As a middle-class feminist born to a privileged caste in Kerala, it is a risky life these days. Social risks of many sizes and shapes crouch in the corners. Any moment one may run into cousins who have never shown any interests in temple visits, but now insist that you dump everything else and explain your assent for women’s entry into Sabarimala. On Facebook, you may catch your English teacher from high school indulging in a veritable orgy, writhing in the sheer pleasure of calling unknown progressives choicest sexual expletives. Yes, the same prude who shot off complaints to your parents because she caught you looking up ‘whore’ in a dictionary. Not to speak of venerable uncles, aunts, brothers and, sadly enough, sisters and nieces, asking incredulously how women could ever be equal to men, especially in matters of faith.
At the beginning of this cacophony, there seemed to be a semblance of reason, however slim. Those who opposed the Supreme Court verdict tried to say (even if in shrill tones) that they had reasons. Some offered a version of the classic rapists’ self-defence—about women’s bodies provoking baser instincts in men—by claiming the deity’s celibacy would be disturbed by the proximity of women. Others claimed that because women menstruate, they cannot partake in the prescribed 41-day spiritual austerities. Not one of these arguments is sound.