Sexism, Misogyny and the Debunking of an Informed Political Debate this Election Season

The election season hit an all-time low as Atishi, the AAP candidate from the East Delhi constituency, was attacked in a personal capacity. Pamphlets titled ‘Atishi Marlena-Know Your Candidate’ were found in East Delhi area that carried lewd remarks against the personal and professional conduct of Ms. Atishi. The pamphlets also contained casteist remarks against Mr. Sisodia, the Deputy CM and political slander against Mr. Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi.

However, this is not the first time we witness character assassination of a woman candidate. In fact, it is not the first time we witness personal defamation of any woman who is trying to make her mark on her own credentials.

We have seen Barkha Dutt be subjected to hostile sexism when she was at the top of her game. We have seen Smriti Irani become a butt of all jokes that have the hallmarks of misogyny. We have the women of the Gandhi family be persecuted through the use of bawdy commentary, time and again. And now we have Atishi!

There is no going over her credentials once again. That has been advertised already! What has not been advertised is that- she is a woman, who is trying to make her mark in the political arena, based on her own terms and beliefs.

That a woman, who has all the qualifications required to be the top boss in a corporation, chooses to relentlessly work in a public system designed to disparage her self-worth.

Political arena is a zone of conflict- a conflict of ideologies, a conflict of belief systems and most importantly a conflict of power. So you fight each other based on the work done, the polices framed and the environment created around you. Why does politics have to stoop to a level that it maligns a woman’s dignity and honor. Why can’t there be issue based politics?

That is precisely the point Atishi is fighting for- an issue based political system.

What lies ahead for Delhi is for all of us to see in the coming days. But the smear campaign has made one thing clear- that the attack on Atishi is a reflection of the society we are. A society that is ready to worship women as long as they are not in the race for power; a society that can denigrate any woman if they become a threat to them.

This is what patriarchy does to us. It does not allow men and women to look at each other beyond our prescribed roles. It puts men and women up against each other in the race for power and resorts to derogatory assault.

The seeds of such patriarchy can be nipped in the bud only through education that can liberate us from our hardwired biases and prejudices; an education that can help us become reflective, sensible and sensitive to fellow beings; an education that denotes quality; an education that Ms. Atishi stands for.

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