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Mothers and women

So many people have been saying what the country needs, there’s really no reason Suchitra Krishnamoorthy, actor, pop singer, author, artist and sometimes also known as Shekhar Kapur’s ex-wife shouldn’t. That’s why God made Twitter na?

Suchitraji was thrilled that Kirron Kher won the election from Chandigarh. But she felt the best way to show her jubilation was to trash talk losing candidate, Gul Panang. Gul lost, she tweeted, because “India needs strong women and mothers, not cleavage flashers.”

Illustration/Amit Bandre
Illustration/Amit Bandre

Suitable outrage followed, including from Sonam Kapoor who was like, “I can’t believe a woman said that about a woman” — bravo Sonam! However she followed it up with a pakka K Soap dialogue “Women are women’s worst enemies.” Oh Sonam. Anyway I have a Feminism 101 kit ready in my bag at all times, so that if I ever run into you I can give it to you.

Because you could be a cool feminist but you gotta study, just a little, I beg you. Don’t tell me not to expect more from celebs. Sonam’s heart’s in the right place, and with better feminist expression she could be a great role model. We need more women who are sexy, strong and smart and should do what we can to help them be that way, including ask it for them.

After the uproar, Suchitraji, retracted her very tu-tu-main-main tweet and even apologised to Gul Panag. Since similar grace has been completely missing in the vicious Internet troll department post election results, I thought, acche din aa rahe hain.

Oh silly me. Suchitraji quickly followed up with: “Indian culture venerates motherhood and looks down on sexuality.” It’s possible that Nirupa Roy’s spirit has taken over Suchitraji’s account. If not, I am curious about why she thinks India needs mothers. Are we a country of silly children, who need to be looked after? Not very respectful to us!

This veneration of motherhood is the biggest number done on women. Just like impossible ideals of being fair-skinned or size zero make women feel like failures when they can’t live up to them, so the idealisation of motherhood is designed to make most normal mothers feel inadequate — besides dissing all women who don’t choose motherhood.

There are all kinds of moms, just like there are all kinds of women — because mothers are women too. Some are effortlessly great at it and love it. Some hate it but do their duty. Some are unable to do it well and hate themselves.

On top of it women are supposed to be naturally made for motherhood, so the burden of parenting is mostly theirs, making women feel overwhelmed, over-worked, underslept, short-changed, ill-treated and often very alone. But koi baat nahin, because you know, we venerate you.

It’s one of the hardest unpaid jobs around. If anything, India needs more fathers and single aunts and uncles who help with parenting. Also, news flash (not same as cleavage flash): Women become mothers after having sex. If you disrespect the latter, you automatically disrespect the former.

By choosing sexuality as a basis for eligibility, Suchitraji reduced all women (including herself) to sex objects, nothing else. Flat-chested or buxom, in T-shirts or sexy sari blouses, what’s the connection to a woman’s capabilities? Suchitraji is not alone. Most Internet trolls assault any woman who expresses an opinion counter to theirs, with sexual abuse.

Everyone’s saying we are heading towards a new future. Perhaps we are. But with barely 11 per cent women in Parliament, (only 2 more women MPs than 2009) won’t be much fun for us if it’s with these all too old thoughts.

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevi.com. The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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