It is obvious that as most other women, I was outraged by the acutely sexist Outlook write-up about IAS Officer, Smita Sabharwal, titled ‘No Boring Babu’. Somehow the volume of work that she has done thus far, her dedication and hardwork all seemed to be belittled by the mere fact that she is good looking, wears pretty sarees or carries herself beautifully.
That really set me thinking about the popular notions about women and that have become almost an indelible part of our psyche. The belief is if a women is professionally accomplished, she’s got to be dowdy looking, most times overweight, not wearing fancy clothes and the hair all over the place or strictly pinned in a bun. If you are svelte, pretty and well turned out and are a woman then surely you do not have the grey matter to match the looks or even if you have no one’s really bothered to find out. You are a trophy ‘arm candy’ and that is what matter!
This is where I question the so called apparent modernity in our thoughts. Despite loads of degree, tons of books and many thousands of debate, the society so easily treats the woman more as a commodity. Equality for women was never about reserving special seats in the parliament, make a special quota in the job market or being treated specially (read differently). It is almost like the concept of secularism in the context of religion. You cannot be secular if you give more favours to individuals from a different religion. Secularism is that context where religion will stop mattering anywhere outside your house and your inner self.
Similarly to all those proponents of women’s right, calling for equal rights, ‘apni soch badlo’ change your approach. Giving equal rights to women is not about clicking selfie with your daughter but rather bringing up your daughter as well as your son, more importantly stop differentiating them.
Why does a woman still have to fill her husband’s name or father’s name in most official documents? Why does most matrimonial ads still call for smart convent educated homely bride? Why is a woman’s incompetence in kitchen still sneered at? Why is a kitchen still considered out of bounds for men in even modern Indian houses?
If we do discuss Smita Sabharwal let it be about her competence or incompetence as a public servant. How come I have never come across an article about a nattily dressed babu? I rest my case here, the rest is for you to decide. Change is imminent but I firmly believe how to bring it on will be what makes the difference.