Cel­e­brat­ing women’s achieve­ments. Are we miss­ing the point?

Consumer Voice - - Editor's Voice -

By the time this magazine reaches your hands, cel­e­bra­tions around sil­ver and bronze wins and dis­cus­sions around ‘how to win gold’ would be over. Also, most of those opin­ion pieces, ed­i­to­ri­als, state­ments by celebri­ties and politi­cians – that un­der­lined that a woman needed to achieve some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary to jus­tify her ex­is­tence – would have been read, thought about, and left be­hind for good.

The mind­set that in­spired those save-the-girl-child and em­power-the-women type of cam­paigns is some­where re­spon­si­ble. So, in­stead of cel­e­brat­ing the ac­com­plish­ments of Sak­shi Ma­lik and PV Sindhu as world-class athletes or pro­fes­sional sportsper­sons, their wins be­come a sort of vic­tory for the fairer sex, and the girls end up be­ing hailed as am­bas­sadors of gen­der par­ity. Makes me won­der: if win­ning medals is what it takes for women athletes to be ac­knowl­edged as In­dia’s daugh­ters, then what were they seen as ear­lier?

When I read Viren­der Se­hwag’s Tweet # Sak­shiMa­lik is a re­minder

of what can hap­pen if u don't kill a girl child, I cringed at first. Then I re­alised it was prob­a­bly needed. He has some point to make in his own way. It was a grim re­minder of the fact that these Olympics win­ners were women who stood up and stood out in an op­pres­sive so­ci­ety. They are achiev­ers in spite of a con­vo­luted po­lit­i­cal sys­tem that does not pro­duce athletes. They have won be­cause of their mad ded­i­ca­tion as well as crazy sup­port from those who be­lieved in them. Be­ing girls, they had to run a few ex­tra miles against the winds.

And when it comes to cel­e­brat­ing and ac­knowl­edg­ing their achieve­ments, an ig­no­rant yet fa­mous news an­chor calls Sak­shi a ‘kid’, as if she has won a house-level com­pe­ti­tion in her school. Next, our prime min­is­ter as­so­ciates her achieve­ment with Rakhi, a festival that says women need pro­tec­tors. Shouldn’t the aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion be her suc­cess alone?

In my opin­ion, ev­ery time a sports star or a suc­cess­ful woman from any pro­fes­sion or field is re­ferred to as In­dia’s daugh­ter or In­dia’s sis­ter, it be­comes a pa­tro­n­is­ing dis­course that harms the gains made by path-break­ing women. Let them be In­dian women. Treat them like you treat men. ( Who’s In­dia’s son or In­dia’s brother?) The achiev­ers are wor­thy of re­spect as women who are ex­cep­tion­ally good at what they do. And even when they fail to win, they re­main wor­thy of our re­spect and time.

Yes, Sak­shi’s win has a strong an­swer to the au­thor­i­tar­ian dik­tats that once orig­i­nated from Haryana’s grass­roots. Like­wise, Sindhu’s medal and Deepa’s achieve­ment were achieved af­ter con­tra­dict­ing a so­ci­ety that ex­pected its women to be docile. How­ever, the pur­pose of their win was to win for the sport and for their coun­try, and be cel­e­brated as sportsper­sons. They cer­tainly did not want to ‘prove’ any­thing and be pa­tro­n­ised for the same.

We do not win of­ten. So, when we win, we must be re­spon­si­ble in the af­ter­math when it’s easy enough to get car­ried away. Cel­e­brate medals the way the women in sports will like them to be cel­e­brated. Learn from them how the path to suc­cess can be made a lit­tle eas­ier for other girls who will fol­low suit. Padma Ed­i­tor

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