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From determining the “underwear” of female politician, asking a female politicians to “remain behind a veil” to comparing Priyanka Gandhi’s looks to other women star campaigners and alleging that Union Minister Smriti Irani wears “big bindi on her forehead” so she “changes her husbands frequently” there is no dearth of misogynist, bigoted and derogatory remarks thrown away casually in this Lok Sabha Election.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • There is no dearth of misogynist, bigoted and derogatory remarks thrown away casually in this Lok Sabha Election 2019.
  • Is Election Commission’s punishment of barring politicians for a few days enough for the offenders to learn to choose better arguments against the opposition contenders?
  • You would be mistaken if you think that only male politicians can make sexist comments as women politicians are also now learning the trade and that is alarming.
  • Why cannot men accept women politicians as their contenders without stressing on prejudices because of their gender?

NASTY COMMENTS AND BARE REDRESSAL

SP leader and controversy’s child Azam Khan really stretched it with his sexist comment against former MP Jaya Prada from Rampur constituency while campaigning for his candidacy. He said, “It took you 17 years to understand her true face. But I realised in 17 days… that she wears khaki underwear.” After this when he was questioned about his crude remark, Khan had the audacity to turn around and say that he never used it for Prada. Is it so easy for male politicians to insult the dignity of women politicians and get away with it?

This time his transgression has not gone unnoticed or without punishment, as the Election Commission has barred him from campaigning for a total of three days. The question is that is this punishment enough for him to learn to choose better arguments against the opposition contenders?

But before Khan allegedly insulted Prada with the derogatory remark, another SP leader Firoz Khan had already taken a lead against her and said, “Rampur ki shaamein rangeen ho jaayengi ab jab chunavi mahual chalega (Rampur’s evenings will turn colourful in this election season),”

MISOGYNY CUTS ACROSS PARTIES

While Khan was barred from campaigning after much outrage on social media and pressure on the election commission, several politicians still have gotten away with their sexism intact. And while political parties may not be able to see each other eye to eye, what brings them all together is that all parties have equally sexist and misogynist leaders.

Congress ally and PRP leader Jaydeep Kawade recently took a derogatory jibe at Union minister Smriti Irani and said, “Smriti Irani sits beside Gadkari and talks about changing the Constitution. Let me tell you a thing about Smriti Irani. She wears a big bindi on her forehead and someone told me that when a woman changes her husbands frequently, the size of her bindi keeps growing.”

Congress national spokesperson Sanjay Jha didn’t insult a woman but PM Narendra Modi. However, his jibe was purily sexist as he wrote in a tweet addressing Modi, “He has white hair, but he sounds more like a blonde.”

SOME MORE SEXIST THAN OTHERS

Earlier, BJP MLA Surendra Singh of Uttar Pradesh commented on BSP leader Mayawati’s appearance and said she does facial and colours her hair, how can she comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lifestyle. Singh also called her a buffalo in July last year. He did not stop there went on to compare Haryanavi dancer Sapna Chaudhary to Sonia Gandhi.

He addressed Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and said, “You should also accept Sapna the way your father had accepted your mother” (“Rahul ji ki Mata ji bhi Italy mein isi peshe se thi. Jaise aapke pitaji ne Sonia ji ko apna bana liya tha, aapne bhi Sapna ko apna bana liya hai.”)

Does Singh imply that professions like dance are not respectable? Comparing a seasoned female politician to a whole other profession that does not require her expertise as a politician is plain wrong.

Singh is a repeat offender who has gone to the limit defending the Unnao rape-accused BJP leader Kuldeep Singh Sengar by stating that no one would rape a mother of three in 2018. He had said, “I am speaking from psychological point of view; no one can rape a mother of three children. It is not possible, this is a conspiracy against him (Sengar).”

Down South, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) campaigner Nanjil Sampath referred to Pudduchery governor Kiran Bedi as someone who “we do not know is a man or woman.”

Another BJP offender is Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey who said that better if she remains behind a veil” pointing towards former Bihar CM Rabdi Devi.

WOMEN POLITICIANS SEXIST TOO

You would be mistaken if you think that only male politicians can make sexist comments as women politicians are also now learning the trade and that is alarming. Recently BJP MLA Sadhna Singh said about BSP chief Mayawati, “jis din mahila ka blouse, petticoat, saari phat jaaye, wo mahila na satta ke liye aage aati hai. Usko pure desh ki mahila kalankit maanti hai. Wo to kinnar se bhi jyada badtar hai, kyunki wo to na nar hai, na mahila hai,” ANI reported.

These are just a few examples of how cruel it is for women politicians to enter the space because sexist jibes from male and female politicians alike, break an aspiring woman’s spirit. It is disheartening to see even women politicians now starting to indulge in this pathetic political tactic.

Recently BJP MLA Sadhna Singh says about BSP chief Mayawati, “jis din mahila ka blouse, petticoat, saari phat jaaye, wo mahila na satta ke liye aage aati hai. Usko pure desh ki mahila kalankit maanti hai.Wo to kinnar se bhi jyada badtar hai, kyunki wo to na nar hai, na mahila hai,”

IS DESEXUALIZATION ONLY RECOURSE FOR WOMEN POLITICIANS?

It takes a lot of courage and determination for a woman to enter politics because when people call it a dirty game, this is what they mean by it—women’s respect and dignity automatically reach the brink once they enter this domain. This is the reason why some of the most successful politicians earn success by desexualizing themselves and by being known as “Amma” or “didi”. But why do women have to take on such prefixes to become successful in politics? Why cannot men accept women politicians as their contenders without stressing on prejudices because of their gender? These questions are worth asking ourselves as citizens too.

Picture credit- STP

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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