Lipstick, Bobcut & Bias: RJD Leader's Sexist Remark On Women's Quota

Senior Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui landed himself in controversy, by saying that “women with lipstick and bob-cut hair” could corner the benefits of the women’s reservation Bill.

Oshi Saxena
New Update
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Prime Minister Modi celebrated with women MPs after the Women's Reservation Bill passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. (ANI Photo)

The world of Indian politics is no stranger to outrageous statements and dramatic controversies. But when Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui decided to grace us with his absurd insights, he took it to a whole new level.


Let's delve into the curious case of "Lipstick and Bobcut," a statement that has not only raised eyebrows but also shone a harsh spotlight on the persistent bias against women in politics.

Siddiqui, like many before him, seems to be stuck in a time warp where women's participation in governance is synonymous with lipstick and trendy hairstyles. It's almost comical that in 2023, we still have individuals who believe that women's roles in politics revolve around appearances rather than intellect or capability.

The Remark That Stunned the Nation

Picture this: A room full of individuals gathered to discuss the Women's Reservation Bill, a landmark piece of legislation aimed at giving women a more substantial role in politics. One would expect a debate on policy, representation, and the empowerment of half the population. Instead, what we got was a sexist remark from Siddiqui, the National General Secretary of RJD.

He claimed that the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill would pave the way for a Parliament filled with women sporting lipstick and bob-cut hair. Yes, you read that correctly. Forget policy, forget leadership, and forget the ability to make substantial decisions for the welfare of the country—Siddiqui seems to believe that Parliament is on the verge of becoming a runway for women showcasing their makeup and hairstyles.

A Glamorous Parliament or Substance-Driven Governance?


Siddiqui's comment raises a fundamental question: Do men still think that women are all about appearances and nothing else? Are we to believe that even with increased female representation in Parliament, women's contributions will be limited to adding glamour to the legislative body?

The Women's Reservation Bill is a significant step towards gender parity in Indian politics. It seeks to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The very idea behind this bill is to ensure that women have a substantial say in the decision-making processes that shape our nation's future.

Do lipstick and bobcut hairstyles somehow determine a person's qualifications for political leadership? Are these cosmetic choices more critical than a candidate's vision, experience, and dedication to public service? Siddiqui's remark is not just sexist; it's an insult to the intelligence and capability of women across the nation. 

Historical Parallels: Misogyny in Politics

Unfortunately, Siddiqui is not the first political leader to make objectionable comments regarding women's reservations in politics. This issue has a long history of opposition, often rooted in misogyny.

For instance, the late Mulayam Singh, the patriarch of the Samajwadi Party, opposed reservation for women by suggesting that it would lead to an increase in catcalling and eve-teasing in Parliament. He also implied that poor and rural women would not benefit from the Women's Reservation Bill, alleging that they were less attractive compared to women from affluent backgrounds.


Sharad Yadav, a prominent socialist leader, also vehemently opposed the idea of women's reservation. He went as far as vowing to end his own life to prevent the bill's passage without a quota for Dalits and backward castes. He claimed that women with short hair would dominate the legislature if the bill became law, suggesting that only privileged women would benefit.

Siddiqui's Defense: A Feeble Excuse

When confronted about his insulting remarks, Siddiqui attempted to justify himself by claiming that he was using the local slang to better connect with his rural audience. However, this explanation falls flat, as it neither justifies nor erases the derogatory nature of his comments.

The Bill's Purpose and Provisions

The Women's Reservation Bill, recently approved by the President of India, is a monumental step towards enhancing gender diversity in India's political landscape. This bill aims to reserve 33 per cent of seats in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women. Its intent is to provide a platform for women from diverse backgrounds to participate actively in policymaking and governance.

Contrary to Siddiqui's claims, the Bill does not favour women based on their hairstyle or makeup choices. Instead, it focuses on gender equality and aims to provide opportunities for all women, regardless of their appearance.


The Need for a Shift in Mindset

So, when will we finally accept this bias and challenge it head-on? When will we acknowledge that women are not just showpieces to adorn the political landscape but humans deserving of equal opportunities and rights? 

Women in politics, just like their male counterparts, are qualified, educated, and dedicated to public service. Their presence in Parliament should not be reduced to a mere fashion show. It's time to recognise that women are more than just their appearances; they are leaders, decision-makers, and contributors to the nation's welfare.

Abdul Bari Siddiqui's comments on the Women's Reservation  Bill are a stark reminder of the obstacles women continue to face in their pursuit of equal representation in politics. These remarks, rooted in gender stereotypes and class bias, do a disservice to the cause of gender equality. Remember, true progress is achieved when we move beyond appearances and focus on substance, ensuring that every woman's voice is heard and respected in the corridors of power.

Views expressed by the author are their own

Suggested reading: Women's Reservation Bill: Key Features And Challenges Ahead

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