It's amazing how many self-proclaimed defenders of women's rights spring to action when it comes to a high profile, powerful, rich woman feeling 'uncomfortable'. The same pontificators who never raised an eyebrow to countless stories of real life problems that majority of women face , go guns ablaze when the high and mighty don't find things going their way. It is also almost 'laughable' how these feminist outrages almost always turn out to be mere political frustration.
On 7th February 2018, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi addressed the Lok Sabha. As usual commotion ensued. Members of Parliament, elected representatives who are sent to sit in the temple of democracy to make decisions that would shape the lives of more than a billion people, decided rather to behave like cheap street hecklers. Congress MPs resorted to continuous sloganeering and commotion directed solely against one man. One man who is the democratically elected leader of the country, one man who had risen from nothing to become the Prime Minister. One man who had no political inheritance, no legacy of power and is now the Prime Minister of the world's largest democracy. The kind of poise and oratory skills that the Prime Minister showed that day, will be remembered for generations.
Now, that is the problem of bullies. When bullies don't get attention they get frustrated. So when PM Modi went on to speak in the Rajya Sabha next, the frustration was quite visible. Congress MPs had tried every dirty trick to dissuade the PM, disrupt his speech and had lost.
When the PM went ahead to speak they had realized that heckling and sloganeering are not going to perturb the man. It was sheer frustration that made Renuka Chowdhury cackle maniacally when the PM mentioned that it was in fact L K Advani who had first proposed a national unified identity document for Indians. When bullies fail to incite fear and obeisance, they resort to mockery. That was what Renuka Chowdhury was doing that day. Ms. Chowdhury's maniacal and out of place laughter drew reprimand from the speaker, who branded it as loose talk and unruly behavior. But it was the Prime Minister who tried to make the situation lighter. He made a light hearted remark on how Ms. Chowdhury's cackle reminded him of days of Ramayana serial. That was a joke, because as opposed to Ms. Chowdhury's solitary outburst, the PM's remark made the entire house laugh. Even the perennially serious ones managed a smile.
Since the Congress had no other excuse to question and blame the PM, they soon started leveraging on the jibe. Ms. Chowdhury cried victim before the press, claiming victimhood because she belongs to the opposite gender from the PM. As expected, stooges in the media and the elite circles picked it up. What was a joke made to make an awkward and tense situation lighter, was portrayed as an attack on Renuka Chowdhury's 'right to laugh '. NDTV ran a debate on it with Nidhi Razdan claiming the PM has compared Chowdhury to a witch. Which in itself is almost 'laughable' because the PM did no such thing. Mrinal Pande wrote an op-ed in the Indian Express, taking the argument to totally unrelated realms. Some liberals even tried defending Surpanakha in their attempt to malign our PM.
Mrinal Pande brings in mythical characters and folklores to propagate an obscure narrative. Her article mentions girls not being able to laugh freely at home. I want to ask, which homes exactly? It is an elitist, colonial mindset of rich, privileged households that girls should behave like 'ladies'. Go to any normal middle-class neighborhood, school or college, u will see plenty of girls sharing hearty laughs and non-stop giggles. She portrays the PM's jibe as some sort of patriarchal mandate on a woman's right to express joy. I want to ask, all the PM did, was to request the speaker to let Renuka ji laugh, so why is she complaining? Or is it a neo-feminist idea that humor is unidirectional? That a woman can laugh ON people whenever she wants, however loud she wants but no one around her can share a joke? That is madness. Humor doesn't work that way. Even if we keep all ideas of parliamentary decorum and basic courtesy aside, when someone laughs out loud at people, they need to be equally receptive to jokes made about it. That is common sense, not misogyny. Mrinal Pande was the one who tweeted a picture of a donkey describing it as the PM on his birthday. Was that not derogatory?
What Renuka Chowdhury did was disrespectful and indecent and her gender has nothing to do with it. The maniacal cackle would have been equally disrespectful and indecent had it come from a male MP. It is the larger mindset of crying foul with rants about patriarchy and misogyny that needs to be called out. When Zaira Wasim cries of sexual harassment because a dozing person had rested his foot behind her seat, the feminist cabal goes berserk. But when Tarun Tejpal harasses a woman, they jump in to defend him. Even Shamir Reuben’s cringe-worthy messages to underage girls were downplayed as 'immature behavior' by many.
Fake-feminist outrages are almost always limited to social media gossip and hollow propaganda. The "tax on sanitary pads" was another such hollow propaganda. They cry hoarse over nothing, but never managed to acknowledge facts when presented. They argued big over lack of sanitary pads being a big problem but never managed to put any reliable data on how big a problem it was exactly.
Young girls facing harassment and dropping out of school is a harsh reality. But how many of these fake-feminists supported Yogi Adityanath's crack down on street goons and eve-teasers? Worse, they even ridiculed him for activating anti-Romeo squads in UP.
Recently, fake-feminists had a meltdown over the movie Padmaavat. They labelled it patriarchal, misogynistic and regressive. Swara Bhaskar even alleged she felt herself reduced to a female reproductive organ after watching the cinematic portrayal of a centuries old work of fiction. Surprisingly, neither Swara nor the army of pseudo-feminists supporting her had ever uttered a word against Islamic terrorists of the ISIS forcing thousands of Yazidi women into sex-slavery. A WHO report says over 2 million young girls undergo Genital Mutilation in Muslim dominated regions every year. How many fancy feminists have taken a stand against it? Instead we witness some women’s March activists batting for Sharia Law. Right now there are women in Iran being hounded and imprisoned because they dared to take out their hijabs in public. We are yet to see a single virtue signaling feminist supporting them.
Instead of fighting for real women with real problems, fake-feminists always, invariably manage to make propaganda over trivial issues. Apparently, rivers being addressed as females is a far bigger matter for debate than over 200 schoolgirls being kidnapped by Boko Haram. Justin Trudeau saying 'peoplekind' draws applause but PM Modi supplying 3 crore poor women with LPG cylinders is 'election jumla'. Crazy and utterly unhygienic ideas like 'Free Bleeding' gets more media attention than organized rape gangs targeting minor girls in UK.
The only thing that the self-proclaimed feminists strive to achieve is to draw media attention towards themselves, while actual problems of women get sidelined. None of them has dared to send pink underwear to ISIS. None of them called Saudi Arabia a 'jumla government' when they declare the rape of a child can be atoned by paying 'blood money' to the mother. It is a sad irony of our times that Linda Sarsour is famous, but Vida Movahed is not. Before you google her name , let me inform you that Vida Movahed is the woman who stood on a pillar box and waved her hijab during the Iran Protests . She has been reported missing since that day. None of the fake-feminists cared.
We do not need hollow campaigns and fake activists to decide what is good for women. Empowerment comes from economic independence and financial stability. Empowerment happens when women break social barriers and stand for basic rights . Jamuna Mani Singh, the poor healthcare worker who fought relentlessly to create awareness about malaria among North odisha tribals is a feminist icon. 75 year old Lakshmikutty, who has healed hundreds of poor villagers from snake bites is a feminist icon. So are a hundred others who do not waste their time pontificating from their lounge sofas, instead work on the ground to bring the changes they want. We need to choose our icons carefully.
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