Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today has hit out at Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar for his bizarre statement that after article 370 Haryana can bring girls from Kashmir, apart from Bihar for marriage. In a tweet he severely condemned the regressive mindset shown by Khattar and have put the blame on the years of RSS training which creates such regressive mindset.
Rahul Gandhi’s statement is perhaps the strongest feminist statement ever made by an Indian politician. It takes tons of courage to say this in India, which is a deeply patriarchal society and anybody who challenges the male authority runs the risk of paying a political cost. Indian politicians are also completely bereft of academic concepts and theories in the field of sociology and gender studies. And even if handful of politicians do have some knowledge, they often dumb down their communication to cater to the lowest common denominator of the masses. But Rahul Gandhi is not one of those run of the mill politicians, and indeed he has paid a price for being different, but he doesn’t care and continues to speak his mind.
Rahul Gandhi has shed light on the core problem why women are not treated equally and why there is so much violence against women. Simone de Beauvoir called it the ‘othering of women’.
A mindset in which women are always the other to men, never a part of. Men talk about themselves in terms of us and we but women are the other. In political context men are the community, the audience, the decision maker, women are objects or chattel belonging to men by way or relations like mother, daughter, wife, sister. Men communicate with each other ‘about’ women but never ‘with’ women. They make laws for women, they talk about women’s safety, but they never include women in such talks or decision making. As long as women are others they cannot be equal, therefore even treating them as Goddesses does not make them equal.
RSS and BJP leaders continuously talk in a language that makes women the other. They constantly talk about marrying women, women’s role in the kitchen, how many Hindu baby women should give birth to. Modi once said, if you plant a tree, it would fetch you the money for dowry at the time of girl’s marriage. Modi’s gas cylinder scheme was advertised using women as a prop just like most other things like cars, bathroom fittings, tiles, underwear, perfumes are advertised by placing a scantily clad women in the poster. Both are objectification of women. In fact Modi had once said as much, that if you put a woman on the bottle of pickle it would sell more.
RSS mindset however is not a surprise as they have never tried to hide their mindset which sees women primarily as home makers and not equal citizens as men in the nation’s politics. RSS’s women wing Durga Vahini has always maintained this stand that a woman’s duties as wife and mother comes first and they should sacrifice their own career, personal goals for the sake of it. Husbands are to be worshiped as God.
RSS BJP would want women to live, and be educated so that they are available to make rotis and marriage purpose but does not want them to exercise their free will and marry a Muslim man or marry somebody out of her caste.
Indian women should be very worried about RSS’s influence over government’s decision making because the way government is bulldozing new laws without any discussions particularly what happened in Kashmir, I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow they suddenly pass a law making marriage and motherhood compulsory for every woman. Or ban women’s right to work.