BJP MLA Surendra Narayan Singh’s remarks against BSP chief Mayawati, calling her ‘shaukeen’ reeks of sexism. According to The Hindustan Times, he said, “Mayawati gets facial done every day. She has no right to say anything about our leaders. Her hair have turned grey but she colours them to look young. She has turned 60 but still her hair are black.” Singh’s comments apparently are in retaliation to Mayawati’s tweet on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in which she questioned his lifestyle.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • BJP MLA Surendra Narayan Singh alleged that Mayawati gets facial everyday and colours her hair to look young.
  • While his comment was in retaliation to Mayawati’s statement, it reeks of sexism.
  • Would he have retaliated on similar lines to a male politician?
  • Why is it that men cannot stop discrediting women for their vanity and go on to give men a clean chit on the same?

What have facials and hair colour got to do with politics?

I am not defending Mayawati’s tweet here, but Singh’s remarks are deeply sexist. What has getting facials and colouring your hair got to do with politics? Moreover, why is vanity being used to shame a female politician, as if it is a crime to want to look young? Every woman has her own perception of how she wants to look and she is free to choose what amount of effort she wants to put in on looking younger, after a certain age. But to use it in political diatribes, as a weapon against her, shows why sexism is such a big problem in our country.

Would Singh have retaliated the same way, had a male politician made this remark against Modi? Would he have taken a pot shot at a male politician for colouring his hair? Or does he think that vanity or desire to look younger is a trait exclusive to women? He would have questioned a gent’s clothing, lavish bungalow, big car, etc, but since it is a woman, he decided to portray her as vain. This meandering political discourse in our country is frustrating. Even when the elections are just a month away, our leaders are discussing facials and hair colour. The attacks are still largely personal, and thus the focus is on degrading each other more than the issues that actually matter.

Even when the elections are just a month away, our leaders are discussing facials and hair colour.

Singh’s jibe was aimed to draw attention to Mayawati’s own extravagant lifestyle. But whenever it is female politicians at the centre of such conversations, it only revolves around their expensive sarees, jewellery, make-up and the efforts they put in to look young. We all know that men colour their hair too. Yes, there may be exceptions. The agenda here is acceptability of a certain action (colouring of hair in this instance) for one gender and using it to accuse the other of being vain.

Even men wear expensive clothes and invest in jewellery, but seldom anyone uses that to make fun of their desire for vanity. Not just in politics, but even in our daily conversations, we attribute the aspect of vanity singularly to women. It is used to belittle them, and to take them less seriously. Mayawati is a seasoned politician with a long and deep political history. Couldn’t Singh have dug a little deeper than facials and hair colour to retaliate?

This brings us to the root of all sexist political commentary we’ve witnessed this general election – laziness.

It is plain lazy to retaliate with a comment on getting facials and hair colour. To comment on a female politician’s choice of clothes, or her physique or her appearance, only exposes the unwillingness to work harder to swerve voters. But sadly we do get swerved with such little effort. Thus, it is on the electorate now, to demand that our politicians work harder to one-up the opposition, than revealing each other’s beauty secrets.

Picture Credit: theuniversealnews.com

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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