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Even you are very beautiful: Nikitha Suryadevara

February 24, 2013

Guest post by NIKITHA SURYADEVARA

Bhopal: Janata Dal (United) President Sharad Yadav today stunned many at a press conference in Bhopal when he called a woman reporter “beautiful.”

The journalist asked him whether he prefers Madhya Pradesh or Bihar – he has represented both in Parliament.

The chief of the Janata Dal (United) dodged a bullet by saying, “The whole country is beautiful.”

Then came the unexpected remark – “Even you are very beautiful,” he said.

Read the complete article here at NDTV

 

So I figuratively raised an eyebrow when I first read this (raising just one eyebrow is much harder than it looks, trust me I’ve tried). The reporter asked him a question designed to make the man fumble, but Mr Sharad Yadav is just too suave. When asked to pick between one of his two constituencies, he swiftly pointed to the reporters beauty instead. Well that seems like a logical conclusion.

Why, for an old guy he’s quite a smooth operator. I wonder what other potential gems he has hidden away in his vast repertoire. In most of the comments that follow the original article, all claims of sexism are pooh-poohed away as an ‘over reaction’ or as being ‘overly sensitive’. Since when is giving a woman a compliment a crime you ask? Well let me put it to you this way. If a male reporter had asked him the same question, would he have said “Oh, you are also handsome.” I’m thinking the answer to that would be a no. Okay, I get it. Relatively, this is no great misdeed of massive proportions. But such comments and such trains of thought continue to propagate the treatment of women as pretty playthings.

One guy even commented, and this is a direct quote “How is this a sexist remark? So males cannot even appreciate beauty by complementing them? Aren’t we going a bit too carried away after the rape protests?” Go ahead, complement away, boss. But unfortunately for the vast majority of the male population, the term ‘complement’ can only be imbued as a compliment in some situations. In a professional setting like a press conference, definitely inappropriate. Yelling “you’re beautiful, you’re sexy!” at passing women on the street can never be construed as a compliment. My apologies to legions of what I’m sure are well meaning men with only pure good intentions.

On a different note, as I was driving to work the other day dressed as stunningly and modestly as always, I felt six pairs of staring eyes boring a hole into me. This was on the road, mind you. A car filled with men, all of them facing backwards in their seats, to look at me driving the car behind them. This went on for about fifteen long minutes of my commute, and it was incredibly uncomfortable. I had to keep my eye on the road, and somehow not make eye contact with these depraved beings in my direct line of sight. On the larger scale of things, was it any kind of violation? No, I’d guess not. But did it make me curse and wish I could just give them the finger so they would leave me alone? Definitely.

I want to be more than a piece of meat. I want to be more than something pretty to look at. I want to inspire respect not lust. And until the day it happens, I will continue to be over sensitive and I will continue to regard all such ‘compliments’ with the skepticism they deserve.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Usha Raman permalink
    February 24, 2013 10:00 AM

    Happens all the time, and the guys just don’t seem to get it. For instance, a sports writer reporting on a women’s cricket match, begins with “The pretty Elysse Perry….” referring to an Australian all-rounder who played great cricket.

  2. Jayasree.a.k permalink
    February 24, 2013 10:38 AM

    Agree with the author. Oversensitivity has to be tolerated for some time to compensate for the millennium old imbalance

  3. February 24, 2013 11:33 AM

    I completely agree.
    There is this tiny masculine pride that these politicians have in the corners of their minds that inevitably, at times, display itself on at least such minor scales. The place and time of such eruption is what makes them special – for some, it will come out in a controversial situation and for some in the aforesaid case wherein the remarks will be brushed aside as being insignificant.

  4. February 24, 2013 11:33 AM

    Reblogged this on The Squirrel Talks.

  5. Aishwarya permalink
    February 24, 2013 1:28 PM

    Absolutely agreed. When I was an overenthusiastic college student, at the forefront of making speakers uncomfortable with pointed questions, I was often paid the “compliment” of having my questions disregarded by the speakers who chose instead to make a misplaced comment on my appearance. Everyone present (except me) used to find this very flattering and very funny, and the laughter that ensued would be then taken as sufficient substitute for a straight answer, before moving on to another question. I was the only one who saw it for what it was – a low and sexist strategy to mask one’s inadequacy in answering questions by putting the woman in her place – very gallantly of course. So yes, we will continue to overreact, we will be hysterical, we will be anything but the objects of demeaning chivalry.

  6. February 24, 2013 8:42 PM

    i don’t know about other guys but this happened to me yesterday> i was commuting on my scooter and there was a trolly full of people all staring at me , cracking jokes as if was some kind of hired clown… wish i had given them the finger… women have had to deal with worse situations than this …. :(

  7. snehalmshah permalink
    February 25, 2013 10:42 AM

    since my childhood, even before teenage, I used to crave for the ‘freedom’ of walking on the road without being conscious of ….!!! free to be lost in whatever that i might be thinking that day.. only partly aware of the surrounding to avoid any accident, or just being very aware of the surrounding to appreciate for what it was – beautiful or not, sad or happy, provoking thoughts or just calming.. allowing any thought to occur… What I had to be conscious of – in reality, while walking on the road/ travelling – was who (read male) is coming from straight ahead or behind and their stares and possible intentions/ risks… just became a habit of being conscious all the time on the road.. and i longed to be free of that habit. A freedom I partly gathered only when I became ‘fatter and older’ (compared to the stereotypical beauty, and as I became a mother), giving me a long awaited partial relief from the compelling environment.. I was happy to note that now less males ‘noticed’ me (read my body) as I passed by, and enjoyed the new-found (although not complete) freedom. Hope the day comes sooner than later… when I can be free of these things and live/ think the way I like – at least while walking on the road?

  8. Vinay Kamath permalink
    February 27, 2013 2:44 AM

    “”I want to be more than a piece of meat. I want to be more than something pretty to look at. I want to inspire respect not lust. And until the day it happens, I will continue to be over sensitive and I will continue to regard all such ‘compliments’ with the skepticism they deserve.””

    And what about those millions of women on the internet who want to be seen as pieces of meat , who wouldn’t care two hoots for respect and whose sole objective is to inspire lust in men. Are they traitors to the modern feminist movement as espoused by the author above.

    • Nivedita Menon permalink*
      February 28, 2013 8:30 AM

      What about those women Vinay Kamath? What exactly are you trying to say? The real question is, what about the thousands of men who make their money off these women, the thousands of men who are rapists and women bashers, the thousands of men who are violent misogynists – shall I assume your consent to all of that? The consent of all men to all of that, in fact? Are you in fact, suggesting precisely your consent to the actions of such men? And if not, why should the author of this post be addressed this question at all?
      Now, read with me the following two syllable word – CONSENT.
      To echo an earlier post on Kafila – don’t treat us like pieces of meat unless we explicitly ask you to, in a language unambiguously understood by both parties. (NOT, in other words, Vinay Kamath – “oh my god, she’s touching her hair, she definitely wants me to treat her like a piece of meat.”)
      You just have to accept, as Veena Venugopal put it on that earlier post – “We are not saying that we don’t feel any desire. We are simply saying that it’s not you who we desire.”
      That’s it, Vinay Kamath.
      (And by the way, dont worry your pretty little shallow head about traitors to the modern feminist movement. Leave that to us to grapple with).

      • Nikitha Suryadevara permalink
        February 28, 2013 4:49 PM

        Amen to that. Thank you for responding to that so eloquently. I couldn’t see past the red for a while there.

      • March 22, 2013 10:53 AM

        Extremely well explained! Kudos ! :D

  9. Mukund Kirdat permalink
    February 28, 2013 2:55 PM

    मला सौंदर्य स्पर्धेच्या वेळेसची चर्चा आठवते … मुळात सुदर हा शब्दच ‘राजकारण’ घेवून येतो … मला कोणी ‘ सुंदर’ म्हणले तर आवडत असेल तर मी सौंदर्य स्पर्धेतल्या सौंदर्या ला विरोध का करतो?… ते माझ्या मनातल्या सुंदरतेच्या कल्पनेचेच आक्राळ रुप आहे का? . गोरी/काळी/काळे …. हे राजकारण आपल्याला चांगलेच माहित आहे . अर्थात या लेखातील मुद्दा वेगळा आहे आणि तो अगदीच बरोबर आहे. स्त्रीचे वस्तूकरण आणि दमन पुरुष नेहमीच करत आले आहेत

Trackbacks

  1. Why did Sharad Yadav say, ‘Who amongst us has not followed girls?’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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