STATUTORY WARNING: This is not for readers who are tired of a beaten-to-death topic like gender discrimination and gender equality. I am of the belief though that unfortunately there will never be enough said on this for ages to come.
SMITA CHIMMANDA writes from Bangalore: For one who has never encountered blatant discrimination based on gender or suffered ignominies for being a woman, I never thought I would one day write an article on this topic.
Most accounts of sexism and gender-based discrimination and harassment in the workplace, in a ‘cosmopolitan’ city like Bangalore, seemed to be exaggerated experiences of a handful of women, or fanciful imaginations that one used to justify one’s own lack of assertiveness.
And I am guilty of having having pooh-poohed it with disdain.
Now, in retrospect, I wonder if I was not being a little naive and deliberately blind to the realities of the day—desperately not wanting to believe in its existence lest it take away my self-imposed holier-than-thou status among my women friends and acquaintances.
I now stand corrected. Sexism against women exists in this day and world. And not all of it can be blamed on the pseudo-urban/progressive male.
It is the many thousands of years of cultural conditioning, cemented by the actions and behaviours of both genders, that requires chipping away. Whereas in our previous generations, this probably was not a topic worth debating (there was only one side to it you see), today such diktats are couched under hard-to-decry societal sentiments of values, culture and integrity. Convenient!
And so, OMG, isn’t it shocking when apparently well-read, well-travelled, successful, professionals (males, of course) dare to reveal their coarseness by indulging in the mockery of the other gender through tangential, sometimes lewd references to their anatomy/ intellect and individuality?
Well, not quite dare, because in this age of technology, the e-pseudonym provides the right cover to the pseudo-progressive, pseudo-intellectual man. Well, it is all in good humour it is said. ‘Go get a life!’ ‘Be a Team Player”Dont lose your chaddis over this’!
And, of course, there are the fence-sitters whose minds are more difficult to unravel and so more dangerous than the openly outrageous loud-mouth. Are they enjoying the action by the ring-side? Are they silently supportive of the perpetrator/ propagator of these animalistic tendencies? Are they plain uninterested? Or are they plain gutless and opinionless to take any side?
While we try to debate and understand ourselves and why we think and behave the way we do, below are some news items that reflect the subterfuge that is known as ‘Gender Equality’ in India.