Sunday, July 14, 2024

Rahul Gandhi’s Flying Kiss Unveils the Persistent Misogyny in Indian Politics

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On 9th August 2023 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s flying kiss to the Union Minister of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani, in the Lok Sabha. Gandhi made this degraded gesture unnoticed by the camera while leaving Lok Sabha after concluding his speech as part of the ‘No Confidence Motion’ against PM Modi. This frivolous act has sparked debates on the persistent misogyny faced by women in Indian politics. 

Amit Malviya shares 'flying kiss video', calls it shameful act by Rahul Gandhi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
PC Hindustan Times

In a world striving for gender equality, politics remains a ‘man’s game’ despite the presence of successful women Ministers, Prime Ministers, and Presidents. Despite achieving progress in Indian politics, women often face discrimination, sidelining, and even insulting behavior from their male counterparts. The unfortunate ‘Flying Kiss’ incident sheds new light on the reality of misogyny in Indian politics.

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Women Politicians’ Long-Standing Battle for Equality

Indian culture speaks of respecting women since Vedic times. However, women in modern India face demeaning comments in their professional spheres. The Hindu diaspora has made remarkable leaps in acknowledging women leaders who have shattered glass ceilings on the difficult roadmap of politics. Contrarily, female politicians often encounter subtle and overt forms of misogyny by their colleagues. This degradation of women in public service hinders their personal growth and demeans official contributions.

Derogatory Behavior:
Jayalalitha Tamil Nadu Attack By MLA Of Karunanidhi Party Real Story And Real Photos | In Pics: भरी असेंबली में किसी ने खींचा जयललिता का पल्लू तो किसी ने फेंकी चप्पल, यहां
PC ABP News

Nirmala Sitaram recently reminded the Lok Sabha of the incident of indecency of DMK members in Tamil Nadu’s state assembly. She accused the DMK members of pulling and ripping Late Shri Jayalalitha’s saree in the Tamil Nadu Vidhan Sabha in 1989. The female leader had responded by vowing to never step into the state assembly till the DMK is taught a lesson by her in the political arena. She came back as the CM of Tamil Nadu and made the DMK regret their derogatory behavior. 

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Sexist Remarks
Trouble For Azam Khan Again For Sexist Comment, After Jaya Prada Now Rama Devi - YouTube
PC YouTube @ India Today

In 2019, the misogynistic attitude manifested through sexist remarks of the Samajwadi Party’s leader Azam Khan. He made derogatory comments about BJP lawmaker Rama Devi when she was presiding over the debates on Triple Talak in the Lok Sabha. Even opposition leaders like Mayawati rose to defend the BJP female politician. The comment reduced Rama Devi to her physical appearance. However, such comments were justified by the head of Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav, as innocent remarks not aimed at personal insult.

In 2018, DMK leader M. Karunanidhi made controversial remarks on Late J. Jayalalitha during a public rally.

His words displayed his deeply ingrained hatred of women in power. The Election Commission made the leader publicly apologize for personal remarks that debased her as a woman. However, his repeated personal assault on women politicians in the past showcases the sexist mindset of the DMK party as a whole.

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Dismissal of Opinion
Smriti Irani said 'you don't know me who I am', claims Congress amid 'Rashtrapatni' remark row | Mint
PC Mint

In 2016, BJP’s Smriti Irani was heckled and silenced by the opposition while trying to give her speech in the Lok Sabha. Most female politicians often find their opinions dismissed or trivialized. The male members of Lok Sabha laughed and jeered at the idea of an empowered woman minister and her presentation of facts. The gestures and taunts are not aimed at the party but the person in power. Therefore, a woman in a place of influence is usually dehumanized by her detractors.

Spoke like teacher to class of students,' says Sitharaman in her reply on Budget - Times of India
PC Times of India

In 2014, Nirmala Sitharaman was heckled by Mallikarjun Kharje in the parliament. He dismissed her knowledge and opinions while she presented a bill. His behavior displays the typical male chauvinist approach of his party. Such parties often dismiss women and their intellect. 

Heckling and Trolling
Aap logon kay burey din aayenge': Jaya Bachchan loses her cool in Rajya Sabha, curses treasury benches | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
PC Hindustan Times

In 2021, Jaya Bachchan as a BJP leader was heckled in the Rajya Sabha while trying to present her debate on the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill. The opposition made it so uncomfortable for the elderly leader that she was forced to leave the assembly without completing her speech.

Why do Female Politicians face Derogatory Behavior From Male Counterparts?

Feminism in the Last Decade: An Interactive | Economic and Political Weekly
PC Economic and Political Weekly
  1. Inadequate Representation: The underrepresentation of women in politics is a primary cause of the male-only approach in the political sphere. While women constitute nearly half of the population, their presence in the Indian Parliament remains disproportionately low. This underrepresentation is a glaring example of systemic sexism within the political structure.
  2. Perceived as Tokens: Women politicians are sometimes seen as mere tokens, placed in positions for optics rather than their capabilities. This perception belittles their achievements and portrays them as beneficiaries of gender quotas rather than deserving leaders. Women have to work twice as hard to prove their mettle in the political arena.
  3. Orthodox Patriarchal Mindset: The patriarchal mindset of Indian society is largely responsible for the way women in politics are perceived. They are seen as an extension of their male colleagues. Their hard work and dedication are seen as their neglect of their family. Their political roles are treated as eye candy by male politicians.
  4. Lack of Public Support: Women politicians are trolled more often than their male counterparts. They receive public flak in derogatory memes and comments at a higher frequency. Lack of public acceptance and support increases instances of misogyny within politics. 

Conclusion

Rahul Gandhi’s Flying Kiss incident is a representation of the mindset of male politicians when they are forced to sit in the opposition by a woman. Unrecorded instances like this are often left to public scrutiny without legal support. The persistence of misogyny in Indian politics is a formidable challenge to India. True gender equality can only be achieved by fighting the parochial and patriarchal mindset of the male member in the political landscape. As the nation progresses, it is crucial to acknowledge and address issues of derogatory gestures and comments in the Indian parliament. India is only a step closer to creating a more equitable and inclusive nation. Therefore, a fair political landscape that empowers women leaders is essential for the development of the country.

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