Merin Joseph isn't alone: What the media always gets wrong about women in power

On Sunday morning Merin Joseph, Assistant Superintendent of Police of Munnar, Kerala, woke up to a fine article — 10 most beautiful female IPS and IAS officers in India. Yes, sounds like one of those 'comprehensive' pieces on the 10 best places to eat this weekend or 10 beautiful places to visit. Joseph was not (rightly so) pleased. She took to social media to express her disgust about the the existence of such sexist material on the internet. She blew off her steam on Facebook and pointed out how such articles propagate patriarchal structures.

We have to appreciate the amount of effort that the research team of ( must have put in to dig out the most beautiful IAS and IPS officers. What did that exercise involve? We wonder. Joseph pointed out how publications have never gone to such great lengths to hunt out the top 10 handsome male IAS and IPS officers. She wrote, "Have you ever wondered why we never see a list of the most handsome males in the IAS and IPS?" That really would have been a mammoth task since there are three women IAS officers to every 20 male IAS officers.

The bold IPS officer also pointed out that there is a lot that is wrong with Indian media, especially, the "vernacular" press and wrote that a "shameless objectification of women" propagates patriarchal structures and reduces "a lady's worth to her face value."

Putting the brave female officers of the country on the same pedestal as her male counter parts, she mentioned, "These are bold and brave officers working in the complex bureaucratic system in India, negotiating their way through the good, bad and ugly of our body politic — and here we have a list of officers whom people can ogle at. It's seriously disgusting, constricting and very very demeaning to our identities as smart, intelligent self made women."

A file photo of IPS officer Merin Joseph. Photo credit : Facebook, Merin Joseph

A file photo of IPS officer Merin Joseph. Photo credit : Facebook, Merin Joseph

Social media came out in support of Joseph, the post gained traction. Some comments on her post read, "Really shameful...but this is what Indian media is all about...they forget that whoever has reached that position has done so on their individual merit and if IAS IPS were interested in exposing themselves they would have selected modelling and not this reputed profession..woman's beauty is her intellect not face value.."

One of the commentators was quick to point out that he knew of her only through such articles, "Madam, i didn't want to tell u this but i came to know about u from similar kind of article...Your pics had been viral on social networks.." One must appreciate his honesty. The website soon took the piece down, and we are glad!

But this is not the first incident of objectification of women (in power) that has taken place this week. Many media websites took to introducing Assam's latest female MLA Angoorlata Deka with sensational headlines like Meet the BJP MLA Who Is Famous For Her Beauty or BJP Ki is Mahila Vidhyaka Ke Khoobsurti Ke Charche or A new beauty sensation in politics. Some even cited appointing her as Modi's greatest achievement — not because she was excellent at what she did, but because she was excellent at being beautiful.

The ever helpful twitterati couldn't help ogling at her. Photos comparing Angoorlata’s look in her films and during her modelling day were positioned next to those of her as a BJP MLA, presumably to drive home the point about her beauty. Director Ram Gopal Varma, known for his action-packed thrillers like Ice-cream, also confessed his fascination for the MLA by pointing out, "If MLA can look like this, Achche din aagaye hai..Thank you Angoorlataji,Thank you Modiji..1st time I love politics." Varma should probably get a room, or at least a pair of socks.

Joseph put the media frenzy to shame and stated, "People may have gone to Mars but their mindsets haven’t changed…I wanted to use my celebrity status to serve the people and contribute to the development of the society. Such comments are uncalled for. People need to grow intellectually. Henceforth, I will not react to such comments.”

Maybe they are beautiful, and maybe their beauty does deserve a sonnet or two. But maybe not judge them just for that? Shall we say its time to put their career first?

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: May 26, 2016 10:15:00 IST

Also See