Sharad Yadav's 'humourous' sexism is not funny, just offensive and immature

Sharad Yadav's attempt at 'humour' was just sexist and offensive. But he is not the only Indian politician to behave this way.

Debobrat Ghose March 14, 2015 10:35:06 IST
Sharad Yadav's 'humourous' sexism is not funny, just offensive and immature

New Delhi: Will the Indian politician ever grow up?

Despite the intense media attention on issues pertaining to women, particularly the male attitude towards them, our netas continue to be careless in their comments.

A case in point is the unforgivable comment on South Indian women made by senior Rajya Sabha member Sharad Yadav, who is also considered a respectable politician.

Sharad Yadavs humourous sexism is not funny just offensive and immature

Sharad Yadav is hardly alone: AFP

If the JD(U) leader was trying to lighten the proceedings during the discussion on the Insurance Bill, he managed that to some extent – some other male members were laughing heartily at his remark – but it certainly did not amuse women members.

If Sharad Yadav describing South Indian women as ‘dusky with beautiful bodies’ was not bad enough there was NCP leader DP Tripathy commenting that “An ideal woman should be slim and slightly wheatish.”

Now the important question: why discuss women in this way? It not only reflects a mindset that is being frowned upon across the country, it also reflects the indifference of the leaders to public opinion.

Mumbai-based ad professional K. Vivek said, “Honestly, I’m not surprised with what Sharad Yadav said because quite a few Indian politicians have made such detestable comments in public before. What I’m angry about is the fact that it is such people who represent us. I refuse to be represented by a man like Sharad Yadav or of his ilk who think so badly about women. This is not how I have ever thought about women around me.”

Ronita Sinha, a Bengaluru-based software professional working with an MNC said, “I’m feeling insulted on behalf of my father and my husband who’ve made me what I am. My father sent me from Chhattisgarh to Bengaluru to pursue my dream and I am what I am only due to him. After marriage, my husband has fully supported me in my career or else it would have been over long ago. These men are not what Sharad Yadav or anybody talking nonsense like him represent.”

Referring to the controversy, Tilga TR Aiyyer, a Gurgaon-based educationist said, “I would like to believe that only a few men who are intellectually challenged can make such a demeaning and racist remark.” Aiyyer added that she was equally angry when Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav said ‘Boys will be boys, they make mistakes…Will you hang them for rape?’

Objectification of women is not a new phenomenon in a patriarchal society like India. But most men of the stature of Sharad Yadav maintain decency and political correctness, at least in public.

Speaking to Firstpost, Kavita Krishnan, secretary, All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA), said, “Using this kind of language also amounts to violence against women. Our Parliament can’t be allowed to be an all boys’ club, where parliamentarians will discuss complexion and shape of a woman’s body and give descriptions objectifying women.”

But Sharad Yadav is hardly alone in this hall of shame. He joins the ranks of some of India's most well known politicians in this regard.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, as Bihar chief minister more than a decade back, had infamously promised to make the roads of his state as smooth as the cheeks of Hema Malini.

Former Union Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, had compared India’s victory over Pakistan in the ICC World Twenty20 match toa woman, by saying: “New victories and new weddings both have their own importance. As time passes, the joy of the victory fades, just like a wife becomes old and loses her charm as time passes.”

However, the young breed of politicians appears more discreet than their seniors. Such comments don’t come from them often.

In fact Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav sacked his cabinet minister Rajaram Pandey in 2013, when the latter also made a sexist comment referring to the cheeks of Hema Malini.

Meanwhile, the Tamil community of Delhi has demanded an apology from Yadav. “Whatever Sharad Yadav said is absolutely reprehensible. It’s surprising that the Chairman of the House did not take suo motu objection to the remark and expunge it, besides taking action against the MP. Yadav should publicly apologize for his irresponsible and sexist remark,” said Delhi’s Tamil Association.

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