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Language: Mind your engendered step!

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By Akash Shukla

Language, identity, gender and politics are interwoven in a relationship that amazingly twists the very fabric of sustainable development in education. Even though we use language constantly, we don’t normally pay a great deal of attention to it.

Be it barren, bimbo, blonde, ball breaker or any other word, Indian media has always been in the line of fire for failing to escape the biasness that English and Hindi bring along with a grudge. There are 220 words in an average dictionary to describe women of ill repute while there are 20 for men. There are three male words for every female word. The word ‘Fast’ need not only amount to ‘speed’ semantically. It also refers to persons who get what they want quickly, especially in a sexual relationship. The terms ‘fast’ or ‘loose’ are often used for women who are friendly to men.

Six things women must learn from men

Man teaches: Logic Lessons

“Don’t hate me for pointing this out, but life will be far easier if women understand that everything in life has logic behind it. Men follow their innate logic as they take decisions, while women are absolutely unaware about the mere existence of logic. And this makes it really hard for men to deal with women,” says TV actor Mihir Mishra for TOI.

The above-stated extract is a lifestyle feature and it harps on the logical predominance of men over women. The bullet point ‘Man teaches: Logic lessons’ reinforces the headline view of male supremacy. Telly celebs voice their viewpoints and their opinion gain momentum via PRINT, it tends to shape ideologies. And, what follows is an endless hue and cry over lax and loose reporting by activists and feminists.

‘Think global and act local (GLOCAL)’ is the way to approach and tackle a report situation. Here follows a list of unprintable headlines in GLOCAL context:

Picture Credit: rediff.com
Picture Credit: rediff.com
  1. Virginity, a must for a happy marriage? (TOI  Life & Style)
  2. Sex on Demand. Get What You Want Everytime! (Men’s Health. Cover)
  3. Ultimate Orgasms. MAKE ‘EM STRONGER and LONGER (Women’s Health. Cover)
  4. BE A LUCKY BITCH! (Cosmopolitan. Cover)
  5. …SEX UP THE BEDROOM (Femina India. Cover)
  6. The mistress of KONKAN SPICES (Indian Express. COASTAL SOIREE)

The list is endless. All these and many more top the charts and rule the roost in mainstream media and lifestyle journalism periodically. Use of words like ‘virginity’, ‘orgasms’, ‘bitch’, and ‘mistress’ is derogatory for women. Irrespective of any refutation, the wordplay is foul and is tantamount to hollow sensationalism. The projection of women is sexual in all the headlines stated above. Women have been snubbed and sidelined as arrogant, shopaholics and sex objects only. Sensationalist headlines do arrest attention but engendered language mutilates ideology of the common man.

Mass communication students and aspiring journalists should be taught to read between the texts and bring out the covert meaning which is always different from its overt counterpart. The world reads story from the publication’s perspective. Since there are no absolute facts, the version of truth tabled by the reporter must not tarnish the image of a publication’s policy.

Lastly, media is the watchdog of society and the only leash appropriate for it is judicious self-restraint at all times for careful and responsible reportage. A teacher must follow suit and do what is best for the students in the ever-changing teaching scenario.

 

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Manjari Lights an Issue of Patriarchy in Tribal Areas of Himachal Pradesh

The literacy rate in the district is 80.77 per cent - 88.37 for males and 71.34 for females - for a population of 84,298

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tribal areas, patriarchy
This is a Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh. Wikimedia

The fair sex is not getting a fair deal in tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh – but Rattan Manjari will have none of this.

She is the chairperson of the Mahila Kalyan Parishad, a rights group based in Kinnaur district, that campaigns on educating women about their right to ancestral property.

The rights group, in association of “mahila mandals” or women’s groups, has also carried out campaigns demanding the amendment of the customary laws.

“With the passage of time, if people in tribal areas can leave behind other customs and became modernised, then why can’t they leave this male-centric tradition (on ancestral property) that is largely responsible for their wallowing in misery with nobody to look after them,” asked the 66-year-old Manjari, who is also an apple grower in Ribba village, some 250 km from state capital of Shimla.

“We want to give a dignified life to the women, particularly spinsters and widows, in our society. For this, we are again moving the high court to get relief from this patriarchal law,” she said of her nearly three-decade struggle to get women a share in ancestry property.

Tribal areas, patriarchy
The rights group, in association of “mahila mandals” or women’s groups, has also carried out campaigns demanding the amendment of the customary laws. Wikimedia

Women in Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Chamba districts are bound by a century-old patriarchal law that allows only men to inherit ancestral property, if not bequeathed.

The still-prevalent Wajib Ul Urj customary law, which came into existence in 1926, bars even widows from inheriting their husband’s property, which is transferred to the sons.

According to 2011 Census figures, the gender ratio in Kinnaur has gone down from 857 in 2001 to 818 in 2011. It is ranked the lowest in the state.

The literacy rate in the district is 80.77 per cent – 88.37 for males and 71.34 for females – for a population of 84,298.

With the help of hundreds of activists in over 170 women groups in the district, Manjari has been organising panchayat meetings and signature campaigns to get the law overturned.

In June 2015, a Himachal Pradesh High Court ruling gave land inheritance rights to the tribal women. This was challenged and the matter is pending in the Supreme Court.

“The daughters in the tribal areas shall inherit property in accordance with the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 and not as per customs. This is in order to prevent women from facing social injustice and all forms of exploitation,” Justice Rajiv Sharma of the high court had said.

tribes, patriarchy
Women in Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Chamba districts are bound by a century-old patriarchal law that allows only men to inherit ancestral property, if not bequeathed. Wikimedia

He had upheld an order passed by the district judge of Chamba in 2002 to grant legal property rights to women.

Old-timers believe the origin of the custom-made tradition is the scarcity of fertile land. Giving inheritance rights to women would give an opportunity to outsiders to become owners of the land if they married outside the community, it was believed.

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“After taking legal opinion, we filed a PIL (public interest litigation) last month in the high court pertaining to the right to inherit the property by daughters under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956,” she said.

Manjari added: “The number of widows and orphaned unmarried women is increasing. It’s high time this patriarchal practice is brought to an end.” (IANS)