A friend mailed a copy of a report about how an American court of justice endorsed the firing of a female assistant simply because her feminine charms were perceived as a threat to the family life of her male boss.
The court didn’t see the firing as an instance of gender discrimination but as motivated by “feelings and emotions.” The boss and his wife thought that the female assistant’s attractiveness was a threat to their family life as their feelings and emotions were swayed by the employee’s physical attractiveness.
This is funny indeed. If we go by this logic, it would be quite impossible for women to be attractive and hold on to their jobs at the same time.
Extend the logic a little further. Can a boss fire any employee (of any gender) for disturbing his/her “feelings and emotions”? Can a boss fire an employee on account of jealousy, for instance?
The seven judges who passed the above judgment were all male. Their argument is not any different from that of certain people in India who argue that the dress worn by women can be a cause of male aggression on women and hence women should attire themselves modestly. Don’t men have any responsibility for controlling their feelings and emotions?
The latest controversy about Mr Abhijit Mukherjee’s “sexist comment” highlights this very attitude. What really matters about Mr Mukherjee’s remark is not just labelling the women as “dented and painted,” but more about the holier-than-thou attitude as well as male chauvinism.
It may be true that many of the women who are raising their voice in the public places of Delhi in connection with the brutality perpetrated on a young woman may not be students, may not be following the traditional moral codes, and some may even be libertines.
The fact which may not be very pleasant for the traditional moralist is that women have the freedom to discard the moral codes prescribed by a patriarchal system. To use Mr Mukherjee’s own phrase, women have the liberty to be “dented and painted” if they choose to be so.
But the dents and paints are not an invitation for anyone to impose himself on them. They need not restrain women from demanding security for themselves in their society. After all, if they are indeed dented, some men are responsible for that!
Mr Mukherjee’s remark about women going to discotheques is the typical example of the conservative patriarchal morality. And it also reveals the kind of thinking that the US judges exercised. If men feel tempted by women (because of their dress or their going to discotheques or whatever), women are culpable!
I’m not defending frivolous behaviour from women. I’m merely stating my view that women have the right to live their life just as much as men have to live theirs.