Every March 8 looks more or less the same on the internet. There’s a temporarily initiated discourse on women’s rights, you are briefly reminded of the statistics of crimes against women and #WomensDay trends for a good portion of the day. There’s basically everything besides actual assurance of helping empower women every other day of the year.
Jumping on the hashtag bandwagon, the official handle of Indian National Congress also shared a cryptic tweet for Women’s Day, asking people how they would celebrate the day. The tweet listed a few absurd options — drinking what you love, laughing out loudly, late-night loitering — to take a quick poll. Obviously, the first impression of the tweet is regressive, but it also seems like a subtle jibe at the ruling party.
— Congress (@INCIndia) March 8, 2018
From Renuka Chowdhury “cackling” over Modi to the discourse on banning liquor, the tweet seemingly alludes to controversial subjects involving the Bharatiya Janata Party. However, taking such a priggish tone isn’t a safe play for Congress, a party, which despite having a woman at its helm, is not too far from being sexist.
It’s not like Congress itself is innocent of questioning a woman’s “late-night loiterings.” Remember when the party’s Sheila Dikshit’s, the then Delhi Chief Minister, infuriating remark over the murder of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan? “All by herself till 3 am at night in a city where people believe…you know…you should not be so adventurous,” she had said. How very classy. How dare a woman step out so late at night! What business must she have had… you know… other than inviting the perpetrator to ambush her?
There are several instances from the past, which prove that INC is down with a bad case of sexism. Be it remarks of women’s “tirchi najar” inviting harassment, to unmarried daughters being a “liability,” Congress has validated its own divergence from gender neutrality.
Of course, though, this is just conjecture. It’s not like we’re calling the Congress hypocritical. It’s not like Congress is failing at being an effective opposition. It’s not like they resemble the quintessential Indian soap saasu maa who doesn’t miss a single chance of dropping a sassy taunt. No. They’re just classically sexist, is all. Otherwise, highly-problematic behaviour such as party spokesperson Sanjay Nirumpam dismissing BJP’s Smriti Irani with his “thumke lagati thi” remark or general secretary Digvijaya Singh describing party MP Meenakshi Natrajan as a “sau tunch maal” would not be entertained.
The problem runs deep and it is important that such behaviour is indicative of having stereotypical expectations from a woman, as though women overstep their boundaries by joining politics. Heck, as per Congress MP Abhijeet Mukherjee’s statement about “highly dented and painted” women (from a protest of a 23-year-old’s gang-rape, mind you), pretty women have no business apart from being pretty. “Those who are coming in the name of students in the rallies, sundori, sundori mahila(beautiful women), highly dented and painted,” he had said.
The Women’s Day tweet didn’t sit well with a lot of people. An appropriate reaction, as it does not represent a healthy understanding of what a modern-day empowered woman can be.
— Priti Gandhi (@MrsGandhi) March 8, 2018
So @INCIndia seems to think that women’s empowerment is only about ‘drinking what you like’, ‘laughing like Renuka Chaudhary’ and ‘late night loitering’?
— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) March 8, 2018
Pathetic thinking… Spoils the essence of empowering women, not just today.. But everyday! Women are the power house that supports the weight of development of any nation. They aren’t compressed to such few actions!
— Prateek Rampuria (@prateek61296) March 8, 2018
It’s an internal sabotage act ? The way they come up with atrocious polls, lagta to aisa he hain…
— freelancerightwinger (@kabiiraspeaking) March 8, 2018
Clearly, Congress didn’t have a very fortunate day. Not only did they leave a bad impression, they also kind of overshadowed the voices of those women Congress workers standing outside the Parliament on Thursday, who demand a 33 percent women reservation in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.