By Sneha Rajaram
In the wake of the sickening police crackdown on JNU students in the last few days — not to mention the police having no problem with women being beaten up in a court of law yesterday — little twin vortices of approval and disapproval have been spinning on media and social media.
Now, you’d think these strands would stick to talking about the issue at hand. But no, our government officials couldn’t possibly do that in the media without dissolving into expressing their misogyny, casteism, racism and 50 other forms of discrimination that have no bearing whatsoever on the crackdown. Case in point: Jawahar Yadav, former Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister (OSD to CM) of Haryana, tweets that “Prostitutes are better than the women students who shouted anti-national slogans at JNU”(the original tweet reads: “JNU mein ladkiyaan jo desh drohi naare baazi karra hinthi, unke liye sirf yahi kahoonga ki tumse achhi tawaaifen hoti hain jo jism bechti hain deshnahi”). He then quietly deleted the tweet, following which, after all the media outrage, he realised he had to apologise. But — surprise surprise!
He chose to defend himself instead:
— Jawahar Yadav (@jawaharyadavbjp) February 13, 2016
"My previous tweet didn’t compare any woman student to a prostitute. But I said that our sisters and daughters who are forced into prostitution are better than the JNU women students who shouted anti-national slogans. Our prostitute sisters-daughters, who are forced to sell their bodies, but not Mother India, are better than them."
The only difference between the first tweet and the “apology” is that the apology’s character count was too high and it had to be a screenshot. And, of course, the sudden sisters/daughters narrative that jumped at us out of nowhere, like a creepy cuckoo clock.
The number of fallacies (aka phallusies) in this tweet is astronomical. It boggles, baffles, bewilders and bamboozles the mind. But we must, we must count a few of them or be lost forever in the confusion.
1. The sisters/daughters defence
Because the only way a man can identify with a sex worker as a fellow human being and citizen is if he thinks of him/her as a family member; if a woman is your sister/daughter, then she has to be homo sapiens.Else, who knows? This of course, after insulting her in his hierarchical little worldview – in which JNU women students are the scum of the earth.
2. Clearly Mr Yadav thinks he’s ‘better’ than a sex worker
In most countries, sex work is a terrifyingly dangerous profession — no acknowledgement or protection from the law, no fundamental legal rights, no infrastructure, no health plan. I’m guessing Jawahar Yadav isn’t facing those kinds of professional problems. How does that put him in a position to showcase sex workers in an unfavourable light with his little comparison?
3. Why pick out just the female students eh?
I have a feeling Mr Yadav looked at the news and felt a deep sense of betrayal when he realized that women were among the humans who chanted ‘anti-national slogans’ at JNU. His sisters/daughters had dishonoured him and there had to be a Bollywood-stylefamily showdown in which he yells things like ‘prostitute’ at them and then adopts new sisters/daughters. In this sense, Yadav is only following the refreshing trend in this government of #NotEvenTrying to be politically correct any more.
4. He forgot the sex ratio in Haryana.
Such is the pathetic nature of the sex ratio in Haryana that it’s news when the number crosses 900. Maybe Yadav is married already, in which case his wife might very well leave him after that tweet. Or maybe he’s single. Either way, it’s hard enough for Haryanvi men to find brides. Now he’s practically put himself out of the running.
5. What is all this selling-selling?
First, the Independence movement turns Bharat Mata into a goddess in order to inspirefreedom fighters (but marital rape is still legal today), then the Supreme Court says last year that a woman’s body is her temple (hmm, is someone going to use that to tell women that they don’t need to enter Sabarimala?), then we are told that selling the body is better than selling Bharat Mata, but only marginally.
Now just a minute! Firstly, JNU women students, to all appearances, didn’t sell the country (how would he be able to tell, by the way?). Secondly, doesn’t everyone sell their body — or do we not need our bodies at all for the jobs we do? Can we leave our bodies behind in the jamun tree before going to work? Can we type without our fingers? And in case any of us think we’re selling only our non sexual body parts (as if there’s such a thing), think again. Can you sit in a swivel chair without a bum?
But Yadav is not alone, not by a long shot. He is only special because, in this particular case, he made that lateral leap, had the breadth of vision to see women students where the rest of us only saw students. But we all know the kind of spectacular lateral leaps our politicians make. Pity they can’t be the nation’s athletes. They’d make great OB-GYNs too – for their skills inOBfuscation&misoGYNy. Some people have all the talent.
Sneha Rajaram is writer-at-large at the online women’s magazine The Ladies Finger.