Rahul Gandhi’s manly advice: Be a man, be Hardik Pandya!

The political dynast can’t take Nirmala Sitharaman, who is far more qualified and experienced than him, seriously. Have you been meeting Pandya, Mr Gandhi?

 |  4-minute read |   10-01-2019
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Congress president Rahul Gandhi insists Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been lying all along on the Rafale row and yet, he would apparently hear only Modi talk on the issue because Modi is a man — not the man that Rahul wants him to be — nevertheless, a man.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman may have spoken for a full two hours on the issue, rebutting every charge the Opposition levelled against the BJP government, but it doesn’t matter to Rahul and his party — because she is not a man.

nirmala-690_011019023927.jpgNirmala Sitharaman is far more qualified and experienced than Rahul Gandhi. (Source: PTI)

She may hold an M Phil in Economics, she may have worked with the BBC World Service, she could have been the Commerce Minister, she may now well be handling the defence portfolio — but Rahul Gandhi can’t take the Defence Minister of the country seriously because she is just a woman.

That's even if Rahul Gandhi’s own qualifications don’t stretch much beyond being a political dynast, who had the Congress presidentship served to him on a silver platter (albeit with khadi napkins), because he is a man.

Recently, Indian cricket all-rounder Hardik Pandya told us men don’t hear women talk, their names don’t matter.

“They (men) look for the moves and the grooves.”

The Congress president is just reiterating this, in case anyone thought what Pandya said was a stray instance of a 25-year-old cricketer getting blinded by success and losing his way.   

By asking Modi to not 'hide behind women', 48-year-old Rahul Gandhi has blurred the lines between the cricketer and his own self.

Bringing to fore the problem of toxic masculinity, which stereotypes not just women, but men too.    

The Gandhi scion apparently feels that Modi ‘let’ a woman talk on the Rafale controversy because he is not man enough.

“Man up.” “Don’t be a sissy.” “Don’t cry.” “Talk like a man.” “Act like a man.” “Be a man.”

Millions of boys hear these words, these phrases, these commands, almost every day of their lives. They absorb the words and then spend a lifetime dealing with their effects. Messages that favour dominance over empathy. Physical strength over compassion. Violence over kindness.

And like Pandya, sex over love.

hardik-pandya-690_011019024142.jpgLook-at-me-I'm-being-manly: Hardik Pandya on the sets of Koffee with Karan.

To 'be a man' is to treat women like they don’t exist — or as Pandya taught us, exist only for a man’s sexual gratification.

Rahul Gandhi is a man-talker, so he prefers to talk to men rather than women. It is beneath him apparently to engage with women — more experienced, qualified and older than him — in political discussions.

Sure, Pandya doesn’t discuss cricket either with women at those pubs he visits — what would they know about sports anyway, he'd sneer?

Pandya goes to Karan Johar to discuss cricket.

Rahul Gandhi had made the claim of Modi hiding behind Sitharaman on the Rafale deal debate while he was speaking at a farmers' rally in Jaipur. He claimed Modi had pleaded with Sitharaman to defend him as he “would not be able to defend himself”.

Gandhi added that a “woman had spoken for 2.5 hours in Parliament” on the Rafale deal — but couldn't answer the Congress's simple questions.

The fact is that the masculinity that men like Pandya and Gandhi propound is actually deaf to women talking sense.

rahul-690_011019024315.jpgLet me mansplain: Rahul Gandhi is a man-talker who talks about women's empowerment. (Source: PTI)

Being the chief of a national party, it is incumbent upon him to talk of women's upliftment, women's empowerment — yes, even the women's reservation bill — but not ensure these fancy ideas take the shape of ground realities.

In election after election, Rahul Gandhi talks about more women being given party tickets and yet, when the lists are announced, we find only men making the cut because the world of Rahuls and Pandyas can’t find serious women contenders. Not because women are not competent — but because it is not manly to take women seriously.

One could have dismissed Pandya’s sexism as foolhardiness whose days were numbered anyway, but Rahul Gandhi’s insistence on not disturbing the status quo of this ‘men’s world’ is a dangerous signal to women. This, when his own family, one whose legacy he claims to be the inheritor of, gave India its first woman Prime Minister and also, Defence Minister in the form of Indira Gandhi.

The chief of a national party is apparently incapable of taking the women of this country seriously. He talks just like a juvenile cricketer recently did.

Should such a leader be taken seriously?

Also read: Why Hardik Pandya’s misogyny on 'Koffee with Karan' should be treated as hate speech


Vandana Vandana @vandana5

Author is assistant editor DailyO.

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