News By/Courtesy: Gunjan Dayal | 27 Jun 2020 20:45pm IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Sexist remarks against Kerala Minister of Health KK Shailaja.
  • Snowballed into a massive issue.
  • For all its claims to be a highly educated society, Kerala's politicians of all colors are regularly used to make sexist remarks towards their political opponents and women in general.

The president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, Mullappally Ramachandran, has stirred up a storm with his sexist remarks against Kerala Minister of Health KK Shailaja. Speaking at a protest meeting flanked by Kerala 's senior Congress leaders on June 19, Ramachandran used words like "Nipah Princess" and "COVID Rani" for the minister, who had received accolades from all over for organizing the state 's response to COVID-19. Thanks to Ramachandran's obstinacy and unwillingness to show remorse over the problem, what could well have ended with a simplistic retraction and apology has now snowballed into a massive issue. For some odd cause, Ramachandran, who is a two-time state minister in the Union Cabinet and seven-time MP, fell back on a writ-up in The Guardian where Shailaja is referred to as a 'Rock Star' to try and justify himself by misrepresenting "Rock Dancer" usage instead. Ramachandran's is sadly not a one-off occurrence. For all its claims to be a highly educated society, Kerala's politicians of all colors are regularly used to make sexist remarks towards their political opponents and women in general. In the meantime, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and its leaders have gone to town on the matter. Equally bad, if not worse, is the record of the Left leaders when it comes to sexist remarks and comments laced with misogyny. lDF Convenor A Vijayaraghavan made a misogynist statement laced with sexual innuendo against Congress candidate Remya Haridas in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, which caused a backlash against him. Veteran Marxist leader and former Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan were in the eye of controversy in the run-up to the 2011 assembly elections when he made a similar innuendo against his Congress opponent Lathika Subhash by stating, “She (Lathika Subhash) is famous for many things. I don’t have to tell you. You can make out”, which he later retracted. Even the former chief minister and leader of CPI(M) late EK Nayanar, who endeavored to make sexist and misogynist remarks to people with his quick wit and smiling disposition, was infamous. "There will be sex scandals for as long as there are women," was his response to a sex scandal during his time of office. He said another time, "Rap is like drinking a cup of coffee in the U.S." Only the late EMS stalwart Namboothirippad wasn't above it. As Arundhati Roy made headlines with the Booker Prize-winning The God of Small Things, he accused Roy of writing 'immoral things about her mother, who was not protesting. I'm not that kind of communist,' EMS reportedly said. Kerala has witnessed a great many sex scandals involving politicians. Politics aside, misogyny and sexism have plagued Kerala 's art and cultural landscape too. Many famous movies played by actors like Mammootty and Mohanlal are a case in point; while things are gradually changing. Nevertheless, casual sexism in Kerala 's iconic TV soaps, comedy skits, and other programs show no signs of improvement. A male anchor in a Malayalam news channel recently refused to dub Ramachandran 's comments as an outright sexist while holding a primetime debate; instead, he extrapolated the colorful language to a more gender-neutral construct, exposing the lack of understanding of such issues by even trained news presenters. All of these points to a greater malaise in Kerala society, with its high indices of human development. The other side of casual sexism 's persistence is the presence of prudishness and moral control guided by a sense of victorian morality. Although the younger generation has shown more openness to gender compared to their predecessors, it will not be easy to change the prevalent norms overnight. Even the chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, who swears by gender equality, makes a joke of this by making the minister of health a silent spectator at press conferences by not allowing her to take questions about the health ministry. His fellow Congress members, returning to Ramachandran, are unable to accept that his remarks were sexist. The fact that the central congressional leadership has not taken him to task reflects badly on the grand old party, headed by a woman leader.

THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT INTEND TO HURT THE SENTIMENTS OF ANY INDIVIDUAL, COMMUNITY, SECT, OR RELIGION ETCETERA. THIS ARTICLE IS BASED PURELY ON THE AUTHOR'S PERSONAL VIEWS AND OPINIONS IN THE EXERCISE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT GUARANTEED UNDER ARTICLE 19(1)(A) AND OTHER RELATED LAWS BEING FORCE IN INDIA, FOR THE TIME BEING.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 27 Jun 2020 21:17pm IST


Tags : #DarkFaceOfPolitics

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