“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.” – Women.
I have been accused of many things in life, but being sexist isn’t one of them. That’s because the women I know are too busy getting me food and drinks to form an opinion. However, this wasn’t the case with Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, who was at the receiving end of much female hatred and anger this week after cracking a joke at a kavi sammelan, whose punchline was that wives are no fun after they get old.
Before I comment on this, I should admit that I know nothing about wives, old or otherwise. My longest relationship lasted only a year, because that’s how long Savita Bhabhi was a free site for.
What made matters worse for Jaiswal was that he delivered his line in Hindi, i.e. “mazaa nahin aata“, which made it sound like he was reviewing a Playstation. (Not that I’m equating women to video game consoles – I’ve never seen a PS3 get fat.)
In response, women politicians (belonging to the Opposition, but I’m sure that’s a total coincidence) charged at Jaiswal in full feminist mode, fangs bared, nostrils flaring and armpit hair swaying in sync to the Braveheart OST. Their war cries were ferocious: “Jaiswal has denigrated the women of India!” “Off with his head!” “I can’t believe that hussy’s wearing the same Fabindia kurta as mine!”
The BJP women’s wing in Kanpur actually went about burning effigies of Jaiswal, because, y’know, they’ve had so much free time ever since they finished emancipating all the oppressed women in U.P. In fact, the number of female protesters would have been much higher, had it not been for that little foeticide habit of ours.
Protesters also carried out the whole deface-the-poster routine, which comes across as a really juvenile form of dissent. It reminds me of school, when we drew moustaches on the faces in our history textbooks and thought it to be the pinnacle of humour. And there would always be that one kid who’d go the extra mile with the drawing, resulting in an unholy scene involving Lady Mountbatten, a horse and a strategically placed rose. (That kid now writes humour columns, in case you were wondering.)
Now, if you remember, we recently had this coal scam thing, worth about 1.86 lakh crores, or an average North Indian dowry. One of the ministers facing the heat in the case was – yup, you guessed it – Savita Bhabhi. OK no, it was Jaiswal, whose entire defence was, “The CAG report is all wrong. Looks like a chick wrote it.” It’s nice how we completely forgot about all that, and chose to focus on a silly joke. And honestly, the BJP has no business calling the Congress anti-women. Like it or not, you have to admit that throughout history, the Congress has left no stone unturned in empowering women named Gandhi.
This isn’t the first time a minister has said something stupid about women. A couple of years ago, Mulayam ‘They Named Me After A Baby’s Bottom’ Singh said that if the Women’s Reservation Bill were passed, a lot of rich women would come in to Parliament – the kind of women that young men would want to whistle at. Much criticism followed, with I&B Minister Ambika Soni calling him a sexist. To which Mulayam blushed and said, “Thank you ji. Waise aaj aap bhi badi sexist lag rahi ho. Wink wink.”
As for the Jaiswal protests, I’d say that the women are overreacting, but that might sound sexist, so I’ll just quote Descartes who once stated, “Item log yedi hai.” Anybody with half a brain cell can tell that these agitations aren’t really about an issue, but about whipping up sentiment and scoring political brownie points, thus proving that when it comes to shirking work, women are just as capable as men. And if that isn’t a slap in the face of sexism, I don’t know what is.
(NOTE: This is my HT column dated 7th Oct, 2012.)