Why I, a woman, blame Priyanka Gandhi for the sexist remark

Women must fight together and not against each other.

 |  3-minute read |   25-01-2017
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Tracking her every move in Amethi for a fortnight was enough for me to know first-hand that Priyanka Gandhi is a strong-willed, charismatic woman. And I have seen her championing the cause of women from the Gandhi pocket-borough. Then why do I feel she is responsible for BJP MP Vinay Katiyar's sexist remark on her? I also feel Smriti Irani is equally responsible.

Coming from an extremely privileged background, Priyanka Gandhi has had many opportunities to publicly speak against misogynistic abuse (her own partymen having given her ample occasions). 

But she chose to speak only when things got personal. She should have also taken it personally and stood up against Congressman Sanjay Nirupam when he questioned Smriti Irani's credentials (laced with crude remarks) during a TV debate.

While Priyanka didn't speak up for Irani, the very vocal Union minister, in turn, had ridiculed Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi in a TV interview. And last I checked, Irani has not yet said a word about Katiyar, who not just insulted Gandhi with his misogynist remarks, but Irani too.

smriti-body_012517055708.jpg 'While Priyanka didn't speak up for Irani, the very vocal Union minister, in turn, had ridiculed Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi.' (Credit: PTI photo)

It is not about a Katiyar, a (Sharad) Yadav or a Nirupam. It's about the chinks in our armour because we choose to speak up only when our self-respect is hurt.

Most women fail to see that when it comes to "our rights", we are the only stakeholders. It's a situation where we either enjoy the benefits together or stand to lose together. Yet, we refuse to fight together.

Sadly, women have rarely supported/defended each other. A brief look at the documented history of the women's movement in India mirrors the fact that right from the Quit India Movement, all political agendas have been set by men, and it doesn't take a raging feminist to see that.

In 1989, how many women (with considerable political power) outraged against the men who tried to disrobe J. Jayalalithaa in the state Assembly. The sexiest jokes on Mayawati, which have nothing to do with her politics, are happily cracked at the women's press club.

To illustrate a personal example, it was a year ago when, thrilled to bits for having won the Ramnath Goenka award for journalism, I was exiting the stage only to be stopped by a very senior politician. His congratulatory message came with an additional remark: "So you are the girl with the red lipstick on TV."

He didn't remember the news story for which I got the award, but was more intrigued by the colour of my lipstick. What hurt more was the fact that there were two celebrated women journalists who also laughed at his comment. Was I  intimidated? Yes, I was. Did I expect my seniors to get my back? Yes, I did. But did they? No, none of the two did.

So, I was left unsure and briefly questioning my make-up choices.

The outrage against Katiyar's sexist statements will continue on social media for some time, with many of us already having read "the listicles" on other such sexist statements by our netas on various news platforms. Tomorrow some new names will replace the present list of misogynists, but the discourse won't change.

The likes of Katiyar or Yadav are the side notes to a story that we (women) are writing. At the risk of sounding clichéd, it's time to "man up". The power to change (the narrative) is in our hands. Fortunately or unfortunately, we (women) have to write it together, no matter how much we despise the other and irrespective of our ideological differences.

It's not easy being a woman. There are many more battles to be won, wearing whatever shade of red you fancy.

Also read: Bangalore mass molestation: Time to declare misogyny a hate crime

Writer

Preeti Choudhry Preeti Choudhry @preetichoudhry

The writer is a journalist with India Today TV.

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