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Neta on notice

Politicians perpetuate sexism. But Indian women are countering this with courage and dignity

By: |
January 27, 2017 12:00:30 am
BJP's senior leader Vinay Katiyar addressing a press conference at the state party headquarters in Lucknow on Wednesday. Express photo by Vishal Srivastav *** Local Caption *** BJP's senior leader Vinay Katiyar addressing a press conference at the state party headquarters in Lucknow on Wednesday. Express photo by Vishal Srivastav BJP’s senior leader Vinay Katiyar (Express Archive Photo by Vishal Srivastav)

The misogyny of BJP MP Vinay Katiyar, speaking about Priyanka Gandhi campaigning for the Congress — the MP said the BJP had “more beautiful” women campaigners, reportedly adding a derogatory reference to a female Union minister — is stark. However, the fact that Katiyar expresses such offensive thoughts so brazenly is no surprise.

Katiyar has a wide list of cross-party club-mates, including JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, who earlier made offensive remarks about South Indian women, and much before that, on women with short hair. Yadav shares Katiyar’s current shame too, describing how a daughter’s honour apparently matters less than a vote’s. No matter how offensive their words are, though, these politicians will evade any real party action — like many others.

It is evident that male politicians are feeling a deep insecurity as Indian women are increasingly stamping their presence in public spaces once considered “male”. As more women work, take public transport, navigate new malls, drive through old gullies, it seems male politicians cannot bear their confidence. Other professional realms have had to tackle misogyny, particularly after the December 16, 2012 gangrape-murder in the national capital brought the issue onto public centrestage, creating new laws against harassment, stalking, offensive language.

But our politicians haven’t sensed the change. Resenting Indian women having an independent presence outside male control, the sheer degree of netas’ disconnect from contemporary society is surprising — and disturbing. Priyanka Gandhi treated Katiyar’s remark with the withering scorn it deserves, thereby emulating countless Indian women who tackle misogyny with dignity and contempt.

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First published on: 27-01-2017 at 12:00:30 am
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