Nivedita Menon in Kafila:
... the sharp opposition to the Bill cannot simply be dismissed as anti-women. Take for instance, Sharad Yadav’s much reviled comment, derisively referring to “short-haired women” (par-kati mahilaen) who would overrun Parliament. This has been widely attacked for its misogyny, but we do need to see it as expressing a legitimate fear that the composition of parliament would be radically altered overnight, in favour of upper classes and upper castes – the image of women with coiffed short hair drawing upon a common stereotype of westernized and elite women. Now, of course this stereotype is misogynist, or anti-feminst, or both, but as a feminist I do insist that this is not the point here, for no feminist can be under the impression that all the support for women’s reservations comes from strongly anti-patriarchal sources...
...What I fail to understand is why the “quotas within quotas” position is so unacceptable to progressive people. After all, surely the idea of reservations for women in Parliament is not based on the understanding that the biological category called “women” needs to be represented? If we are arguing that the social experience of being positioned as “women” within current economic, cultural and political arrangements is disadvantageous vis-a-vis men, and needs to be reflected in Parliament, then we need to accept that this experience is inflected differently by caste and community – that is, the social experience of being an upper-caste, urban Hindu woman, while definitely shaped by one kind of patriarchy, is nevertheless different from the experience of being an OBC or Muslim woman. Why should not the latter also have representation in Parliament?
Read the full piece at Kafila
Incidentally, Mr Sharad Yadav has also been demanding a quota wihin quota for the women.
Jun 07, 2009