When I was a little girl, I used to witness my brothers playing cricket with the other boys in the neighborhood. They seemed to have such a good time, bowling, batting, fielding, catching, screaming, falling over and rolling in the dirt. I insisted on playing with them even though they warned me that it would hurt.
They were gracious enough to allow me to play one day in order not to break my heart, but they couldn’t avert physical hurt. It was a hard cork ball for heaven’s sake and I, not too alert.
I sobbed until they felt sorry and bought a rubber ball for me, and allowed me to play “baby overs”, which meant I got three balls to bat on every turn.
I quickly understood that I wasn’t enjoying the game the same way as the boys could. I was not capable of playing by the standard rules of the game. I was not happy about concessions they made for me all the same.
I realized that if I really wanted to play, I had to assume all the risks that came my way.
This personal anecdote comes to mind whenever I hear feminists disparage many demanding and high risk careers as “male-dominated”, and seek concessions for the “weaker sex”.
In recent years, Senior Officers in the armed forces have been criticized by feminists for making “discriminatory” remarks and for not being able to accommodate women into all ranks, in all regiments and divisions of the three forces.
Politicians promptly take the bait and make tall promises in an urge to pacify their perceived “female vote bank”.
Union Defence Minister Mr. A.K Anthony, who had initially cited “operational reasons to rule out inducting women as combatants into the armed forces”, changed his mind two days later, on the occasion of Women’s Day 2008, and declared, “I’m sure that at some point of time it will happen.”
Former Defence Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee once went to the extent of saying, “We are encouraging more and more women to participate in the armed forces…They should be encouraged not only to equal pay, equal allowances and other opportunities, but we should create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable.” Mr. Mukherjee also envisioned “setting up of institutional arrangements for enhancing their (women’s) level of comfort”.
That is indeed very “gender-sensitive” of Mr. Mukherjee, but I wonder how such politicians propose to fulfill their promises, at what cost and at whose expense!
In a game of “galli cricket”, it is easy to replace a cork ball with a rubber ball and introduce “baby overs”. But what about a career in the armed forces especially involving combat duties? Can we provide “pansy training” and expect “rubber bullets” in the battlefield? Are we going to go as far as compromising National Security for pampering women, and call it women’s empowerment?
In a recent article (link shown below), Seema Goswani provides a candid and incisive commentary on the issue of recruiting women as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force. I hope the politically correct Government authorities, politicians and citizens are listening.