“Acche din” for men? Not by a long shot!
By Uma Challa
When the news of BJP’s election victory broke last year, I was on vacation in the US, on a beach in Florida to be precise. I was just as excited about the end of dynastic politics as many of my fellow countrymen were. I wrote a congratulatory message to India on the sandy beach, and posted a note on Facebook about how thrilled I was to return to a “Modified” India. I knew “acche din” were going to be a reality for at least some people in at least some issues. I could imagine the beginnings of decolonization and the revitalization of neglected cultures and languages.
“What about the ongoing war against men and boys?”, I wondered. “Will the Saffron Government end it or will they intensify it in an attempt to outdo the previous regimes in their “pro-women” stance?”, I pondered. Considering BJP’s serious and seasoned feminists like Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Ms. Smrithi Irani and Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, who are all patriots enough to reject western-feminism, but share the same degree of misandry nevertheless, one could only guess whether “acche din” were in store for Indian males.
It would be useful to recall that back in December 2013, Ms. Irani, speaking at a leadership summit, said, “If a man is without malice, he has nothing to fear.” Her words resonate with those of Ms. Renuka Chaudhary, who, during her tenure as Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD), said, “If men behave, they have nothing to fear”. Anyone who has had a brush with the Indian “women-protection laws”, the law enforcement machinery and the judiciary knows what the above words mean. I took solace in the fact that none of the above mentioned card-carrying feminists were assigned to the Ministry of WCD in Modi’s Government.
Ms. Maneka Gandhi, the newly appointed Minister for WCD, remained very quiet and non-controversial with regards to her Ministerial affairs for over a year. We do not know if, suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue, the pressure of her job description finally got to her, or the evil spirit that haunts her office possessed her. We do not know if she was overcome by a strong zeal to please or even outdo her predecessors and colleagues, or if she was indeed a misandrous closet-feminist who was waiting for the right moment to come out, but she finally spoke!
In a Facebook interaction with netizens, Ms. Gandhi declared that all violence is male-generated. Many Indian men’s rights activists (MRAs) were misled into believing that Ms. Gandhi was either ignorant of ground realities or that she was deliberately ignoring them. They tried to (in Arnab Goswami’s words) “throw statistics at” her and cited examples of violence by women on men and children. What these MRAs failed to understand is that according to Ms. Gandhi’s well-considered opinion, men are either abusive or they do stuff to deserve abuse against them, and by that impeccable logic, all violence is male-generated.
Ms. Gandhi, no doubt, made her mark and proved her worth by reasserting the Ministry’s eternal commitment to war against men. What really sets her apart, though, is the elegance with which she overtly declared state-sponsored war against boys through an upcoming initiative called ‘Gender Champions’. Under this initiative, boys who can train themselves to become doormats and punching bags early on will be rewarded with prizes, just as the girls who walk over them and punch them would be awarded titles for their “bravery” and “attitude”.
Just in case we might miss the point, Ms. Gandhi went a little further and stated that according to her, “education should be more gender sensitive and certainly animal sensitive”. This statement actually gets to the bottom of the ideology that drives the Ministry of WCD – that boys and men do not even deserve the empathy that animals do and that all males are dispensable. No democratically elected representative of India, not even the formidable ex-Minister of WCD, Ms. Renuka Chaudhary, was able to state it in such clear terms.
I cannot help recalling another speech by Ms. Irani, from late last year, in which she stated, “When women are put at the helm of affairs, conflict has this very unnatural way of decreasing”. She also said, “A leader is someone who takes you where you want to be, but a female leader is someone who takes you where you ought to be.”
So, here we are!
No prizes for guessing where we are going!