Here I was, thinking that the reason why I consider Pratibha Tai to be “not Rashtrapati Bhavan material” is because she defrauded a cooperative bank and distributed the bank’s assets to her relatives.
The reason why I oppose “I-see-dead-people” Ms. Patil’s candidature is because I am an MCP who is afraid that Ms. Patil’s ascendancy to the top would open the doors to even more female participation in our national life, a dystopian vision of the future that puts the fear of God into my black chauvinist, power-hungry heart.
I was convinced of my pigginess after reading the sagacious Mrinal Pande. In a brilliant article in the Mint (incidentally my criteria for brilliantness—any article that has “hugs an armload of juicy mangoes to her heaving chest” in the first paragraph) , she exposes the real reason for the ubiquitous opposition to what she calls “the quietly dignified” Patil :
The real worry the feminist baiters have is not that they will have a woman President, but that it will give women ‘ideas’ above their station and ultimately bring out the real bugbear waiting in the wings: 33% reservation for women in the nation’s legislature, and plonk it centre stage before they can yell Sharad Yadav! If that happens—and not an Aishwarya, dripping with diamonds or a Bipasha dripping oomph, but a severely dressed Sonia or a quietly dignified Patil become iconic to Indian women—how long can the lucrative shop-till-you-drop ethos be kept afloat? Once they are genuinely empowered and armed with self-esteem, what can prevent women from storming the legislature and occupying not just one-third, but half the available seats?
Hmm. Well it certainly makes sense.
Why? Cause I see a disturbing pattern emerging in my behavior.
You see, I did not like Mandira Bedi as a cricket commentator because I felt she (and I blame the producers for this) dumbed down the analysis of my favorite sport through her asininity and by her gratuitous cleavage-show, which despite its succulent spectacular-ness, had no place in a sporting program.
Well now I realize : that was not really the reason for my irritation.
The real reason for my dislike was that I resented a woman’s intrusion into the male world of broadcast sports, a fact that Mandira Bedi, like Mrinal Pande, points out in a piece titled “Sports is chauvinistic but I have changed mindsets”.
In sports, it’s a very chauvinistic, male-dominated field. I have managed to change the minds of some people and I know there are some who will never accept me in that position.
It’s another thing that I find the very manly Charu Sharma and the uber manly Arun Lal to be as, if not more, irritating. But surely for Mandira, my feelings originate from a more sinister, primal center. If it was Navjot Singh Sidhu squatting on the ground, doing a pitch report, with his fly intentionally open I would have just laughed it away with a “the ball went so high it could have brought down an air-hostess with it” joke. But if it’s Mandira Bedi, I crib “Oh God. Why has cricket coverage come down to this?”
Similarly according to Barkha Dutt, I resent Mayawati not because of her publicly declared 52 crores of assets but because of her “hard-nosed Hindi, unapologetic aggression and shimmering salwar- kameez” and most importantly because of her caste.
You learn something everyday from the media.
And it’s not just about the world, but also about your own sinister self.