mid-day editorial: Call out pejorative, sexist views

A while ago, a Kerala woman cop slammed a piece in a Hindi daily listing 11 beautiful IAS and IPS officers in the country.

Kerala cop Merin Joseph was unhappy and had some trenchant criticism for the piece, calling it patriarchal and misogynistic. She explained that these are bold and brave officers working in the complex bureaucratic system in India. Instead of focusing on that, they are reduced to a list that one can ogle at.

Joseph has a slew of supportive comments to her angry reaction on Facebook. There are several people slamming the listing, saying quite rightly that the women have been diminished in a way, to a beautiful face. One comment asks whether a newspaper would ever compile a listing of the 11 most handsome male IAS and IPS officers. While objectification of any gender is not on, it is true that mostly, it is women who are objectified.

In another controversy Assamese actor Angoorlata Deka, who recently won the assembly election in Assam on a BJP ticket, is grabbing eyeballs these days, but this is not for her win. Deka is all over social media with the comments of whether she is one of the hottest MLAs. To compound this, Deka’s pictures have been morphed with those of a fitness trainer, Sapna Vyas Patel from Ahmedabad. Patel is mortified that some newspaper in Punjab had actually called her hot.

In both instances, we see a clear diminishing of achievements and the accent is on the hotness or oomph factor. Those who object to this are routinely dismissed as grouches, stick in the muds, hypocrites who secretly enjoy such comparisons but pretend otherwise. They are told to loosen up and have some fun, and are accused of not having a sense of humour.

Hugely sexist and misogynistic, they do not talk about the enormity of achievement, challenges faced, or even acknowledge that there are intelligent, thinking and accomplished women behind that aesthetic or sex appeal.

Puerile and disgusting, let’s value professionals, or just people, for what they are rather than what they look like.

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