Good murals make it to Instagram, terrible ones make headlines. Yesterday, satire/parody page, Humans of Hindutva, posted an image on Facebook that’s left the Internet horrified. The photo shows a mural from an undisclosed location in which a young girl child sits with her head covered, while making chapatis. The writing on the wall tells us: ‘Kaise khaoge unke haath ki rotiyan, jab paida hi nahi hongi betiyan’ (how will you eat the rotis they make, if they’re never born).
Raise your hands if you too were reminded of that one relative everyone has who is unaware of how misogynistic his unsolicited advise nearly always is. Of all the possible reasons one could have listed to call out female infanticide, they decided to go with beti bachao, varna roti khud banao? Because of course in the grand scheme of all things patriarchal, a woman’s place is at home (with a dupatta covering most of her face), as she cooks for the men in the family. How else is an adult man (assuming this message was aimed at the fathers and uncles and grandfathers of the house) supposed to get food into his system unless a female (be it adult or child) whips it up for him? Apart from hot meals and child-rearing, what other reason could one possibly have for letting women exist, anyway? Because they don’t deserve to have their choice and their freedom taken away, you say? Lawl. Don’t be basic.
As horrifying as it is that even in 2018, some women don’t have any agency *because* of their gender, it is even more horrifying to note that this attitude plagues not just people in rural areas (as some would have you believe) but also those who are a part of the so-called educated population.
While the reaction to the HoH’s Facebook was largely reassuring, with people calling out the inherent misogyny of our system; noted Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy’s tweet about the same image invited backlash. Missing the point by several miles, Twitter sent Nundy several variations of ‘nothing demeaning /wrong with cooking’, and that ‘home food is the best’.
Who the hell on Earth means it’s demeaning to cook. Only women can multi-task and the food can taste homely ONLY if a woman makes it. How myopic to think these lines (with data insufficient) is demeaning.
— Aniket Sapre (@aniketsapre) May 27, 2018
This is probably centred at the village levels where this probably makes more sense to them. I agree it’s gruesome but if this saves more girls, then I am all for it.
— Sur Oberoi (@SurOberoi) May 27, 2018
What will you prefer- cooking or this? Only people who are not in touch with reality are complaining. While most women find happiness in cooking for their family. pic.twitter.com/66CuEXXT99
— Siddharth sharma (@Sidd282) May 28, 2018
The 2018 Economic Survey declared that about 21 million young girls in India bear the heavy burden of being ‘unwanted’, because parents prefer boys. Which makes female infanticide just one of the many serious issues that plague the very safety and existence of girl child in India. For those wondering why there’s a furore over this ‘harmless’ image that’s for the ‘greater good’, our society not only struggling with the idea of letting female foetuses survive till birth, but also with letting them live, if they are lucky enough to be born.
The Lancet published a study that over 2.39 lakh girls die every year in India out of sheer neglect that’s triggered by gender bias. Government laws may have stopped the widespread abortion of girl child foetuses, but nothing’s stopping these parents from taking away the essential attention and (medical/nutritional) care that these ‘unwanted’ girls need.
And this is precisely why misogynistic PSAs like this one need to be called out. For centuries, the problem has been our lackadaisical attitude towards women and the all-consuming subjugation they’ve faced. About time we viewed women as people too, instead of just objects that serve a purpose in men’s lives.