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Palash Sen raises hackles at IIT-B: Are there good-looking girls here?

Arpita Biswas studies caste and gender at IIT Bombay. But when she attended Palash Sen's concert at the college's cultural festival, Mood Indigo this year, she received a real-life lesson in society's existing gender relations: and then blogged about it.

 Palash Sen raises hackles at IIT-B: Are there good-looking girls here?

Singer Palash Sen.

In an essay that has now gone viral online, Biswas wrote about the comments made by Sen, who reportedly joked about how there were not many beautiful women in IIT, and also that the male students shouldn't worry, since they would graduate and find women who would "belo rotis" for them.

According to Biswas's blog:

"His (Palash Sen's) slew of sexist barrage began with seemingly the most pressing concern of IIT boys on campus- do boys have enough good looking girls to look at and hit on? So he asked, “Are there good-looking girls in IIT-B?” Men both inside and outside IIT-B rose their hands in solidarity to signal no. So he asked again, “Are there good-looking girls in IIT-B?” The hands rose again. The couple of boos from the IIT-women of course went unheard...“Women are for beauty, men are for intelligence. You have to agree that men are more intelligent than women, don’t you?” The crowd went hysterical at this point. Women booed...Having said that, thank you Palash Sen for your absolutely unthoughtful and unsolicited advice to all beautiful girls who’re not in IIT- “That they ought to become as intelligent as boys to come to IIT.”

According to Biswas's blog, Euphoria PR Alok Parande contacted her saying that Palash Sen would be free to speak to her if she wished to. Biswas then pointed out that a meeting was not the point: "Given the state of affairs as it stands, I would rather that this conversation takes place in the presence of official representatives from IIT-Bombay and Mood Indigo."

After this incident, a backup singer for Euphoria also wrote a note on Facebook, defending Sen's credentials as an artiste who supports feminist causes:

I have been the backup vocalist of Euphoria for over 2 years now and thus, have had the privilege to work with, interact with and get to know Dr. Palash Sen. I would want to bring to Ms. Arpita Phukan Biswa's notice that I have not come across a man who is more respectful towards women than him. I come from a background and household that strongly believes in feminism. But, somehow his jokes have never offended me. Does that make me a sexist? No. It doesn’t. Those jokes are not meant to be taken seriously. He jokes about it because the idea of women just “beloing rotis" and men pressing their wife's feet is absurd.

Biswas responded to the vocalist's support of Sen with one more blog post, asking whether passing off such instances as jokes or other instances when women who demand more responsible behaviour are brushed off as a 'hysterical bunch' serves justice. "People can joke and laugh about on various other things- but populist sexism is of course the easiest joke available, isn't it?" she wrote.

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Updated Date: Dec 23, 2013 15:52:18 IST

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