Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And, in More Sexist News...

I regret it whenever I try to mend my general lack of awareness and watch the news on TV (which I usually don't watch in the first place because it makes me depressed or frustrated). I think I should stick to reading feminist sites and fantasy books instead.

Last evening, I watched as the Indian Air Force's Vice Chief Air Marshal politely "explained" on TV that women couldn't be put into combat positions because they have babies and are psychologically not fit. You think I'm exaggerating? Here are his words,
"Nature's way of life is that you get married, bring up a family. Now the latest position on ladies flying is that if a lady goes into family way, she is off-duty for 10 out of 12 months. Now while we can always utilize... a lady in some other job, but in the pure profession in which we have invested so much if the poor lady herself who has contributed so much... if we cannot utilise... then it is not fruitful for either party. But we are looking at it and in a few more years we can see a change coming with certain pre-conditions."
Now I don't know what kind of way of life "Nature" has, but in the real world, we have birth control and child care. More from the esteemed gentleman:
"In a few years time, we might see this change (women getting inducted as fighter pilots) coming in with certain pre-conditions that till this age we request you to be happy, be married, but no offsprings."
Also, as we are chivalrous chauvinists:
"It is not right to have a lady or a woman exposed to a conflict where she can be a prisoner of war."
A lady or a woman, get it? He is not just kind and condescending to well-bred ladies, but also to mere women!

And this gem:
"Secondly, psychologically, are we fit? another factor," he added.
And, in case you thought he was being sexist:
'I have full respect for women……but there are also other physiological, psychological, cultural and historical considerations. We cannot send them into close combat.'
"What considerations?" you may be wondering at this point. Which is where I will enlighten you, gentle reader. First, physiological. You need a penis to man (see? I made a pun!) the controls of a fighter plane. What, you thought your hands would be sufficient?

Second, psychological. How can mere women deal with the immense emotional upheaval of being up in the air and fighting! with! the! enemy! You have to be a strong, warlike man to be able to survive the trauma. (Maybe some extra testosterone would help?)

Third, cultural. Don't you know women are supposed to be at home, making food and ironing uniforms while the men are out fighting? Who is going to have the male fighter pilot's uniform all starched and ironed in the morning, and the food hot on the table when he gets home in the evening, if his wife is out flying too?

Fourth, historical. We are a patriarchal society. That is, you stupid women who want to be equal be grateful for the crumbs of respect we are giving you. Isn't it enough that we are allowing you into non-combat positions? You want to actually FIGHT ALONGSIDE THE MEN?

I am not surprised at the IAF's policy; I am not surprised at the obvious sexism in a government agency. I am apalled though, that the Vice Chief Air Marshall doesn't seem in the least embarrassed about his own sexism - or about making such sexist statements as a defense of those sexist policies.

31 comments:

Deborah said...

It almost reads like a parody. I think I would have been throwing things at the television had I seen that item myself.

Aneela Z said...

oh unmana once i get back home remind me to send you some (similar) gems of wisdom from the PAF and army during my thesis years. One had the gumption to quote Monica Lewinsky (as in a gentleman like Bill C could be tempted) so what would happen to our officers and jawans and at times you have to share trenches.

shilpadesh said...

I saw this and I thought it was a joke, but the man was serious. This from people who are educated and are from so-called high society. I think we need to go back to the 70s and 80s, we don't deserve the 21st century.

Unmana said...

Deborah: Aah, I settled for changing the channel.

Aneela: Why am I not surprised?

shilpadesh: I don't know what we deserve. Certainly not such people making decisions.

@lankr1ta said...

What gems of wisdom. I suppose women also feel more fulfilled if they are serving the penissed ones!!!

ramblingsbybones said...

Men are like animals and like protecting their territory...What would become of them if women took over jobs that were traditionally theirs? Would they still be men?

chicu said...

is that for real?
'women and ladies'
wow

Indian Home Maker said...

I will be back Unmana. I tried counting till 10, it didn't work.

Unmana said...

@lankr1ta: Well, we poor women can't be expected to be able to do things on our own, can we?

ramblingsbybones: A little unfair, I think. The problem is not with all men, but with some.

chicu: Yeah, I wonder if he was listening to what he said.

IHM: Are you raging, IHM? Be back soon, do. And please do participate in blogging for elimination of violence against women (previous post).

Sumedha said...

A friend sent me the link to the article, knowing that my reaction would be similar to yours. :) I skimmed through the article, didn't read the whole thing, so I missed many of the infuriating comments at that time. Seriously! I do sort of agree with the statement that when women are "in the family way", they're gone for nearly 10 months, and that might be a waste of investment, but that's not even his main point in the statement!

And I don't watch/read the news much either. It's too damn depressing and leaves me feeling hair-tearingly helpless.

NuttyNits said...

That chap was definately outrageous. I dont belive that women cannot do fight a close combat battle but somhow i feel women shouldt risk their lives in a country with aleady such a skewed gender ratio and all kinds of life threatning issues like dowry, child birth, rape.. its a horribly long list!!

indianhomemaker said...

Unmana I wrote a post in response to this, here
http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/woman-you-are-not-doing-anybody-a-favour/

nataraj said...

I am all for equal rights for women, but i kinda agree with the officer that women can not be inducted to combat duties now. These are my reasons:
1. Economic reason: Women get pregnant and this means they will be out of the forces for quite some months. India being a third world poor country cant afford to train pilots and give them long leaves. We can only give good training to a few and use them to the max.
2. Our main enemy against which the airforce was/is used is pakistan and they are inhuman. One pilot was downed during the kargil war and he was tortured to death. Now if a female pilot is caught and raped to death and her body is returned, think what effect that will have on the morale of the forces.
3. Cultural reason: The Indian society has not matured enough to see women as equals. We think girls should not be hanging out with boys before marriage. In this scenario if a couple of girls are thrown into a high stress environment with a lot of guys who still havent developed a modern outlook, its inviting trouble. I know in that case it will be totally the guys fault, but we cant afford such cases.

The solution: First lets educate our citizens. Focus on the welfare of girl child. Lets try to fight for better education, prevent female foeticide, prevent eve teasing, exploitation. Once the Indian public is open enough we should fight for equal rights is all areas, including the forces.

Unmana said...

nataraj: You are either for equality or against it. Equality only in certain situations is not equality.

And you think women should be punished by barring them from jobs because men might harass them, do you?

Sandy said...

@Unmana
I think u are having a very simplistic viewpoint of such a complicated issue.

I completely agree with Natraj. Women empowerment does not means it to be restricted to the elite.

In 1979, Russias invaded Afghanistan and worked for women empowerment and equality. Their education was made mandatory. The Aghans who had lived in tribal customs for centuries simply could not digest that a godless country was telling them how to treat their women. This was the single biggest reason why the Afghans fought back.

Moral of the Story: Go slow on empowerment. The most important thing is to change the mindset. In rural India, women are treated like a doormat. Young boys grow up watching how their father treats their mothers and they imbibe the same values. Thats wat has been hapenning for thousands of years and cannot be changed overnight. Just go thru the following link:

http://winnowed.blogspot.com/2009/05/afghanistans-shia-marriage-law-clerics.html

Most of the people in our armed forces come from rural background. We can't change them overnight.

Unmana said...

Sandy: You agree with natraj? I repeat what I said to him. But I suppose that concept is too simple for your mind to grasp.

Sandy said...

Just read the link to the article that I gave u and I would like to hear what u have to say abt tht.

This issue is not as simple as u say. I suppose u just read the first line. I had said quite a lot of things.

Unmana said...

sandy: I read your comment: that gives me no incentive to read your link.

Sandy said...

Ok, thats ur call. In any case, that is not my article and it is very well written article.

I just stumbled to ur blog by chance, and have read some of your posts. You do have strong feminist viewpoint. You have every right to have them, but just be open enuf to read others point.

I am not at all anti-feminist, i am very much pro it. But ur answer seems to suggest i am not welcome on this blog.

Have a gud day and keep blogging. :)

Unmana said...

Sandy: Sexist views backed up by pretend-logic is not welcome on my blog. That should have been clear from my reply to nataraj. You say women should be kept out of certain jobs and defend it by "Most of the people in our armed forces come from rural background." That is ridiculous. Most of India "comes from rural background". That doesn't mean we continue to tolerate misogyny and sexism.

And yes, this debate is now closed.

Sandy said...

See, I only said that women shud b kept out of the armed forces for the moment, that does not means forever. And I have that only for Armed forces not for any other jobs, so plz dont generalize the statement.

There need to be changes at a more fundamental level. For e.g., 1/3rd of all panchayats have been reserved for women since 1993. There has been a lot of positive effect of the same. At least now the same values are not passed on to the next generation.

The Govt. has recently indicated that it intends to increase the reservation to 50%. Thats change, ofcourse its too slow for your liking.

But unfortunately u and i can't change history which has been unfair to women. It is impossible to change every1's mindset in a flash.

Even in the West, Women Rights movement is a very recent phenomenon (1970's), even though these societies have been democratic for over 200 years.

For e.g.,marital rape was made a crime only in 1976 in the US and in 1991 in UK. Kindly don't interpret that I support marital rape. Neither am I defending anti-feminists. I am merely stating that it will take at least a generation in India to change people's mindset.

Unmana said...

Sandy: I'm not sure if you're willfully pretending to misunderstand me or are actually finding this really difficult to understand: I'm going to assume it's the latter, so let me try to do this slowly one last time.

Reserving places for women and allowing them to hold certain jobs are very different things.

"Ofcourse its too slow for your liking." You haven't mentioned how slow it is, and I have never implied that some change is too slow for my liking, or whatever. As you can see, I am more than capable of speaking for myself, so please don't trouble yourself on my account.

Ah, the West. Of course, it's impossible that we might be able to have equality as quickly as they apparently did, isn't it? Comparing with them reminds us of our place, doesn't it?

"It will take at least a generation in India to change people's mindset." If things were to have become ideal in a generation, they would have a long time ago. You don't imagine we are the first generation to ask for equality, do you? In case you haven't noticed, I've asked for a change in rules, not in mindset. Though I ask for the latter too, only not in this case.

Now, because I don't have time to keep replying to comments from someone who keeps contradicting himself (a "pro-feminist" who doesn't want equality; someone who implies people from "rural backgrounds" are less enlightened and then points out the positive effects of reserving seats for women in panchayats), and as I already mentioned that this debate is closed - which you seem to have disregarded - any further comments from you on this post are likely to be deleted.

Sandy said...

The only point I was making that u cannot a mentality of thousands of years overnight. I was being a realist.

In any case I dont intend to visit ur blog or argue with someone as rude u r.

Unmana said...

Sandy: So we should sit back and wait till men decide they're ready for equality, should we?

And aah, poor me!

Sandy said...

Ohh yes plz, go ahead and try to change the country according to ur half baked philosophies. In 60 yrs we cud not remove caste stigma, but i am sure if we follow ur method, in 10 yrs gender stigma wud b over.

Bravo....tussi gr8 ho

Unmana said...

Sandy: I keep thinking I'll delete your comments, but they're getting more and more entertaining. But I'm afraid life's not all play, and I have to go do things now. Ciao!

Sandy said...

Yes exactly, i have other things to do as well. And this shall be my comment and visit on ur blog ever.

Delete if u want u, its ur blog. I guess men are unwelcome to even talk about gender issues.

You dont need to reply to this at all.

Unmana said...

Sandy: Oh, I didn't NEED to reply to anything, don't worry. And yeah, thanks for reminding me it's my blog. I suppose it seems like I'm in danger of forgetting? (And here I was thinking I was getting overbearing and arrogant!)

"I guess men are unwelcome to even talk about gender issues." Ah, you poor men! By the way, it feels better to blame sexism rather than your own inadequacies or prejudices, doesn't it? Not that that's related to what you said.

Sandy said...

I pity u, u seem to b so frustrated that perhaps u find some solace in hitting out at other men.

u r someone who forces the other to be rude. none of my initial comments were rude, but u brought me down to ur level.

go ahead and delete these comments, in any case i have copy of them. i will post them on my blog. Let others know how rude n stupid u r.

Unmana said...

Sandy: Ooooh, I am SO scared! I am afraid my comments online are actually going to be read!

Sandy said...

http://minisblog.blogspot.com/2006/08/unfair-deal.html