The world is patriarchal. There’s no doubt about it. Someone long ago – a man, perhaps – thought he was the greatest living being to be brought into the world and that women were made to follow and obey a man, even though only women have the power to give birth. Where would he have been if not for a woman? Would he have even been born? Irony punched itself in the face that day.
Millennia of misogyny and sexism filter themselves into our daily lives. They’re in jokes and they’re in the way we see the functioning of the world every single day. How much ever we want to say that no, sexism and misogyny doesn’t exist anymore, there are so many instances where it comes out so casually that I begin to wonder, “Does this person respect me or does he think making fun of my gender is okay?”
The thing is: casual sexism does not only happen to women. It happens to people of all genders. But women are mostly targets of it because of the internalized misogyny that has been passed on to people in this age from their ancestors. And the problem is that no thanks to the social conditioning throughout the ages, even women tend to talk out against other women if they happen to do something that has always been considered against the norm.
Let me share with you something that happened very recently.
An ex-colleague, who I was always polite to and who was always polite to me, posted a couple of stories on WhatsApp that angered me to no end. The first one I sort of left alone after stewing for a couple of days. The second one, however, I could not let go, because despite my misgivings, if I didn’t tell him what I thought of it, I would never be able to forgive myself.
Here’s the first picture, which I sort of let go. It’s not even casual; it’s blatant sexism. It took me a lot of backspacing to control my anger and just not call him out on it.
It says in Hindi:
“Samaajsevika Srimati Sunny Leone ji ne apne Jeevan mein kabhi kuch nahi dhaka. Agar unhone mask lagaya hai toh samajh leejiye khatra kitna bada hai.”
English translation: Social worker Mrs Sunny Leone has never covered herself up. If she’s wearing a mask, you can understand how big of a danger we are in.
Can you imagine the light in which the person who wrote this sees Sunny Leone? As an immoral woman who walks around naked? The sarcasm in those two lines is so horrible! These are the same men who watch her movies and videos in the dead of the night. The same men who lust after her and then when she does something commendable, throw eggs at her and leer and sneer at her. The world needs to change and soon. But I doubt it will anytime soon, given that she narrow-minded, misogynistic, sexist pigs exist in this world.
Also, I don’t understand this obsession with connecting immorality with a woman’s clothes. A man can rape and kill and still society will make excuses for him. While a woman can be an amazing human being but will be looked down upon just because she wore a bikini on a beach. So society is basically a ginormous hypocrite.
Here’s the second picture that he shared:
What he’s saying is that while the men of the world are trying to think of ways to overcome this pandemic, thinking of ways for the economy to bounce back, working so hard to bring the world back to normalcy, while the women are just here doing the sari challenge or whatever other photo challenge they did.
First of all, who the hell are you to unnecessarily glorify yourself and take digs at women? Do you have any idea of the number of women who actively work hard to make your life better? Do you have any idea about how the world looks like? If this were to be said about a man and his crappy Tik Tok videos, the raging from the man’s end would have gone on so long, he would have brought the world to side with him. That’s how stupid the world is.
Plus, this ex-colleague of mine actually had the gall to tell me I was reacting over nothing. I am reacting over something that has been rampant over millennia – men thinking it’s okay to make fun of and belittle a woman when it’s really not. You may think there is no sexism there and that’s the worst part. Just because a girl agrees with the sari challenge part of the “joke” doesn’t make it not sexist. Moreover, it only emphasizes the social conditioning that us women have undergone so far to actually come out and belittle other women just because it’s the “cool”, “funny” thing to do. No sir, I’m not buying any of that bullshit.
And coming to the challenge: Everyone deals with being cooped up inside in their own ways. And what’s wrong with women who are in quarantine doing whatever they want on social media? Are men who do Tik Toks supposed to be looked down upon? If you haven’t seen the video of that guy spitting on his palm and shaking hands with a woman who scolded him, with the intention of passing on his germs to her, you totally shouldn’t because it has enough views to give that idiot a bloated ego.
It’s not a matter of whether or not I’m overreacting. I may be. But it is that people find it funny when jokes like this are made, and I include a lot of women in this. There are so many men I know who will take offense if a joke is made upon how they are scared of their wives. If you think that is degrading (which I think it is), then how can you shut up about it when jokes like these degrade the women in your life?
Women are not just dolls. We are not just humans who only care about our makeup and our saris while the world goes to shit around us. We are more than that. We have our own thoughts, our own emotions, our own notions about the world! And all we want is to make our own choice for once without being roasted by the world. Without being made fun of by the very world that looks at us with those monster eyes.
And for every person who cracks such jokes and says, “You are getting too serious about nothing,” when we react to it, all I’ll say is, “Shut your male ego in the closet. I’m getting serious about something that men think is okay to do but is really not.” Know that your casual sexism isn’t something I’m going to take lying down. I’ve had enough of it.