Yati Narsinghanand has finally been arrested amid election season. Kudos to the Uttarakhand Police for the same, considering Yati told them ‘you’ll all die.’ But the confusion to arrest him is – in which case? Is it because he called the police ‘hijra’ (eunuch), or the inflammatory comments on the Prophet, or calling the former President Abdul Kalam a Jihadi, or for the Haridwar genocide conclave? Then, the Uttarakhand police clarified that Yati was booked for ‘misogyny’, although there is more to arrest him for.
To the unversed, Yati Narsinghanand had referred to senior women ministers in politics as ‘mistresses.’ According to Yati, women in politics are either mistresses of big leaders or belongs to political families. This is why Yati is arrested. Police knows that there are endless misogynists within the system, and if they arrest him on the very ground, they would be compelled to arrest more. So, after two days of his arrest, Police added the ‘hate speech charges’ too alongside the charges of misogyny. Yati has been sent on 14-day judicial custody to his friend Waseem Rizvi.
Hate speech is met with outrage but misogyny is often less talked about. Why have we normalized sexism and misogyny? Misogyny or contempt for women, to keep women at a lower social status than men is a disease.
How does it thrive in Indian Politics?
Yati Narsinghanand is not the first to pass misogynistic remark. Our politicians are known to be fond of misogyny. When congress gave ticket to model, actress, Archana Gautam, it stirred an unnecessary controversy. Some portals even started sharing obscene pictures on the internet. Gradually, pictures of actress in bikini went viral when she was announced a candidate in the election.
In this regard, Priyanka Gandhi reacted, saying, “Why people are interested in a woman’s private life, her attire or background. Would a man like Modi ji be treated similarly?”
Misogyny is prejudice against women. BJP’s Rakesh Tripathi said, “Congress is not serious; ready to field any candidate to gain cheap publicity.”
How can a model be serious? Only the rapist, corrupt and criminal politicians are serious! Is that what he meant? In fact, a gentle reminder to Tripathi ji that his party fielded famous ‘tik-tok star’ Sonali Phogat in the 2019 Rajya Sabha elections in Haryana. Now, is she a serious candidate according to him? Height of logic!
Misogyny is not merely limited to Archana or Sonali. When Sonia Gandhi entered politics in 2004, rumours were made describing her as a bar dancer. However, it was cleared a number of times that she worked as a part-time bar attender while studying in University. By mixing up words, character assassination was attempted. Though, a bar dancer has more dignity than a politician anyway. IT-cell made innumerable memes on it that if you type “Italian Bar Dancer” in Google, it shows the photo-shopped pictures of Sonia Gandhi. They trend #bardancerday on Twitter on Sonia Gandhi’s birthday. Is this mind-set any different from Yati Narsinghanand’s?
Interestingly, this disease of misogyny or aversion to women is rampant everywhere. Congress is no exception. Kamal Nath, a Congress politician’s “item” dig at BJP woman candidate triggered outrage. Moreover, Priyanka Chaturvedi, an MP resigned from Congress when no action was taken on the male members of the party who insulted her. In 2019, Samajwadi Party leader, Azam Khan commented that rival Jaya Prada wore Khaki underwear. And, our honourable Prime Minister, in 2012, had called Shashi Tharoor’s wife“50-crore-rupeegirlfriend”. Mayawati has forever been a popular target to demean, thanks to the misogynistic society. It’s because she made a dent in the male-dominated sphere of politics in her time.
Not just Mayawati, kindly read the biographies of women leaders, like Jayalalithaa, Indira Gandhi etcetera, and you will learn that the biggest barrier in their lives was not to beat their opponents, but to defeat misogyny. There are many examples of misogyny in politics, and not limited to one party. Their target is towards the women politicians always, be it Smriti Irani, Mamata Banerjee etc. So, misogyny exists from the top to the bottom tier. But, why is it difficult to believe that women can make their own mark in Indian politics?
Why is misogyny so deep-rooted?
In simple terms, misogyny refers to dislike or hatred for women. These hatred and prejudice have been normalised in such a way in our society, that it has become institutionalised and internalised in our brain cells. Sometimes, we are misogynistic even without our conscious knowledge. In reality, we assume a social hierarchy, that men are superior, thus maintaining the societal roles of patriarchy. We hesitate in power sharing. That is why men negate women’s opinions, belittle them in the form of sexism.
The question here is – how did a misogynistic society develop? Patriarchy is the root of misogyny; roles are predetermined –where men are considered to be strong, and women, sensitive; boys as sportsmen, girls as cheerleaders; boys study mathand engineering, girls study humanities; boys ride bikes, girls scooty; boys play with ball, girls with doll, and the list continues. From childhood to adulthood, such differences are highlighted, and we tend to fall for these. That’s how some careers become male dominated.
Number of Women in Parliament
In terms of population, there are 1020 females per 1000 males in India, but complete opposite a picture in the parliament. There are 24 women of 245 Rajya Sabha members, and 78 women of 543 Lok Sabha members. Meaning, our parliament has become synonymous to that of the engineering colleges – less female participants! (?) Society assign gender-specific roles. Some women even justify domestic violence. Sigh! Imagine, how wrongly this obnoxious concept of ‘patriarchy’ must be internalised in the mind and soul of these women!
Solutions, Awareness and Reservation
The first step towards it is to admit that there is a problem. Lack of awareness is not helpful. Patriarchy is not propagated completely by men. It is internalized by women to such an extent that they even participate in it. For an instance, women from Jind, a city in Haryana sent bangles to PM Modi; congress women sent bangles to a BJP candidate in Madhya Pradesh. What are they trying to portray through this act? Do they consider wearing of bangles as a sign of weakness? Hence, these are the cases of internalised misogyny.
Sometimes, a catalyst is required to usher change. One of these catalysts is – women’s reservation bill. It was proposed in 1996, aiming 33% reservation for women in Lok Sabha. The bill is not passed even after 25 years. Male lawmakers hesitate to pass the bill that would put their position in the parliament at risk. However, in municipal and panchayat elections, women reservation is implemented, but male members somehow find their way around the system – nominating wife as proxy.
Women in academics have made a name for themselves. Army has started inducting women as soldiers for the first time. Politicians can’t ignore women voters.
To conclude – the problem is deep-rooted. Change is slow. The question here lies – Are you and I a part of this change? Efforts of change are evident, but how can we too help? By recognising internal misogyny, and curbing sexism within us. Don’t give further strength to patriarchal system.
[ Pics from internet]