Let's get one thing clear. Politics+ Men= Misogyny. It doesn't matter which party they belong to and what kind of ideology they follow. And that's exactly what happened when Congress President Rahul Gandhi took a dig at prime minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal. Gandhi said that the PM got “a woman” to defend him. "The watchman with a 56-inch chest ran away and told a woman, Sitharamanji, defend me. I won't be able to defend myself, defend me. For two and a half hours, the woman could not defend him. I had asked a straight question - answer yes or no - but she couldn't answer," Gandhi was quoted as saying.
It didn't end there. When he was called out for his sexist comment, Gandhi resorted to more patriarchal language to demand answers from Modi.
In a tweet, he asked the Prime Minister to 'Be a Man'.
With all due respect Modi Ji, in our culture respect for women begins at home.
Stop shaking. Be a man and answer my question: Did the Air Force and Defence Ministry object when you bypassed the original Rafale deal?
Yes? Or No? #RafaleScam— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 9, 2019
Try Googling 'How to be a man' and it will give you an interesting set of searches. The first one, a WikiHow article says, "Like it or not, it takes more than a pair of cojones to achieve manhood." I couldn't read till the end of the article because it lists some strange apparent codes that men should be following. For example, "No smiley-faces or emoticons are necessary when texting another guy". We don't know whether Gandhi read this article before advising Modi to 'be a man', but what we know is patriarchial thoughts isn't leaving Indian politics anytime soon.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Thursday issued Gandhi a notice, with chairperson Rekha Sharma calling the statement “pathetic”, “sexist” and “misogynistic”.
So Gandhi did what he did — Showed off his sexist self. But, there's more.
The BJP, in turn, decided to call out on Gandhi's sexism and started trending #BeAMan on Twitter. Talk about irony.
This is from the BJP spokesperson who had been accused of sexual harassment, following which he released a video to deny the allegations and said he was falsely accused. However, he invoked the hashtag #HimToo.
The hashtag #BeAMan may have been thought to be a clever one. Like, a tit for tat, perhaps? But what either side didn't realise is that ‘be a man’ is exactly what the problem is. The term summarises 'toxic masculinity' by trying to attach a valour to manliness. In short, it means if you aren't brave, strong, or powerful -- you are not a man.
While the Prime Minister has responded with, “This is not an insult to a woman, but an insult to entire India’s women power, for which these irresponsible leaders will have to pay the price,” BJP president Amit Shah targeted Gandhi, accusing him of resorting to “misogyny” and “insulting” women.
And men and women on Twitter continued using #BeAMan and tweeting photos of goddesses.
#BeAMan @RahulGandhi, learn to respect the Shakti. This is the land of Durga, who vanquished Mahishasura, and you claim to be a ‘janeudhari brahmin’. Don’t talk like a misogynist who thinks a woman was created out of a man’s rib!— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) January 10, 2019
Mr.Rahul Gandhi dnt challenge
Power of Indian Women like respected lady @nsitharaman Ji
Coz u have never come across the honest and wise people actually in life. Sad you don't respect Indian Women.January 10, 2019
The problem is that neither the Congress nor the BJP care about women, or empowering them or even respecting them.
Just the other day Smriti Irani questioned Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s “purusharth” (masculinity) on a day he gave his constituency a miss to take on the Prime Minister Modi in Delhi. She compared the Congress chief’s masculinity unfavourably with that of Amit Shah. “(BJP) ke adhyaksh apne purusharth se bane hain; Rahul Gandhi apni mata ke ashirwad se Congress ke adhyaksh bane hain (The BJP president earned his post through his manhood, Rahul got his thanks to his mother’s blessings),” the textiles minister has said.
Clearly, this elections is going to be all about manhood. I would like to introduce an emoji here, but perhaps a 'real man' wouldn't like it.