Sexism in the media industry is common. And women journalists, no matter which beat they cover, have to face a lot of chauvinism from their male colleagues and commentators. The sexist comments range from women’s body types, colour of the skin to the kind of clothes they wear, how much make-up they put etc. During a recent talk, Rana Ayyub, noted journalist and author of the book Gujarat Files, had to go through similar sexist attitude from one of the male members of the audience present.
The gentleman, who claimed to be a lawyer, stood up asked Rana if it was appropriate to wear glamorous attire while giving such a serious talk? Fortunately, this was met with rage from the audience. The moderator of the talk on Gujarat Files – Siddharth Vardarajan – raised his concern on how could the lawyer ask such a distasteful question before Rana actually said anything. Everyone dismissed the question and moved forward into the discussion.
Rana briefly addressed the crowd, saying, “I am distracted as now I am actually thinking about my clothes.”
While talking to SheThePeople.TV, Rana said,
“Honestly, when he said that, I thought he was going to ask me that is that the question people asked me when I was undercover but when I heard it completely, I was taken aback. I mean at a time like this when I am seeking justice for an undercover investigation, here is a man who is concerned about my clothing. So that speaks a lot about the mindset one has to deal with.”
She added that she never really thinks about herself as a ‘woman journalist’, but today, he really made her think like one and “it is really unfortunate”.
While the crowd’s dissent at the lawyer’s sexist question gives hope and comes off as a result of the talks and debates we are having on women’s movement and growth in society, it also suggests that these talks need to continue and with a renewed energy as sexist questions and comments have not yet stopped coming from the other side.
This is not the only problem that women in media face, there are variants of prejudices against them — one of the other major problems is that of sexist listicles. One Google search about your favourite female journalist will throw off so many listicles named — ‘Top 10 hottest female anchors in the News’. ‘Most beautiful journalists in the Industry, ‘Media Divas of the Industry’, so on and so forth.
About the sexist listicles, Rana articulated, “That is the unfortunate bit, we live in a sexist society where there is no list of the handsome journalist, but there is certainly a list of hot women in the media. This is something that was reflected in the audience when he asked that question. We still see women as hot and sexy and beautiful and not as brave and courageous, which is always generally restricted to men, so that’s the truth one has to deal with.”