“Mansplaining isn’t some jokey thing you only see on Twitter, it’s an important thing. It’s as important to a girl in Bihar as it is to Hillary Clinton,” said writer and journalist, Bee Rowlatt in a discussion around manelists, misogyny and mansplaining at the recently concluded Jaipur Literature Festival.
Bee is a self-proclaimed feminist and has written bestsellers on classic writers like Jane Austen and recently published her latest book on Mary Wollstonecraft called In Search of Mary.
Amrita Tripathi who was moderating the session called out on the need for discussions on misogyny and mansplaining to happen. To which author and former national chess champion, Anuradha Beniwal explained what it is like to live in a highly misogynistic state like Haryana where apart from the gender bias there is, women’s position in the society is guided my men.
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Beniwal took her own example of when she was born after her elder sister, how her father received pitiful messages because one more girl had been born in their house. This sympathetic view of the society which degrades the phenomenon of a girl child born in a house leads to issues like female foeticide and killing of girls in Haryana and many other states in the country.
“When you’re born, there’s no joy from your presence, and this becomes an indicator for things to come. Ultimately, this leads to the genocide of baby girls.”
Moving on, the case of ‘toxic masculinity’ was brought in by journalist and Apne Aap Women Worldwide NGO founder, Ruchira Gupta who addressed it by mentioning Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. She talked about the way Modi addresses the crowd like the head of the family. And that is how the ages old patriarchal family structure works where the head of the family is never wrong.
She drew a comparision of Modi and the recently elected American President, Donald Trump and claimed that America voted for Trump only because “they were afraid more afraid of female authority than of Russia and China.”
Talking about the recent noise around ‘manels’, the ‘token man’ in the panel, Suhel Seth reflected upon the media being complicit in it and clarified, “In the media, we only see a token lady on panels, popularly referred to as ‘manels’.”
Online, there was much commentary on whether Suhel Seth — also referred to by a panelist, as a “token man” on the panel — was in fact trying to mansplain his co-panellists.
As the session was buzzing with feminists in the huge Charbagh hall in Diggi Palace, when asked from the crowd to raise their hands if they are one and in unison every person in the crowd raised their hands. It was fantastic to see the energy flowing in the crowd to acknowledge the issues women face and to call them as society’s issues and not just theirs.