Anushka Sharma has magical powers. Through her presence alone, she can ensure that her boyfriend fails in every innings, jinx the entire Indian Test team, and engineer two back-to-back innings defeats in the recently-concluded India vs England Test series.
Who knew? Not the BCCI, certainly, which gave Virat Kohli special permission to take his girlfriend along for the England tour. And certainly not Virat, or he would have left her behind safely in Mumbai while he played the field (I am talking of cricket of course; what did you think?) in the balmy sunshine of an English afternoon.
But he took the unlucky minx along, and now look what’s happened: we have suffered our worst defeat since that much-talked-about summer of '42 in England!
But don’t worry, all you cricket lovers (and Virat Kohli fans). The BCCI is on the ball, revising its rules to ensure that such disaster never strikes again.
The Board has now decreed that cricketers will not be allowed to take their girlfriends on tour with them. And even legally wedded and bedded wives will only be allowed to accompany their cricketer spouses for a limited period of time.
This will ensure, or so the BCCI assures us, that the team is not distracted by all those pesky little women, who always want to go shopping or sightseeing (or, whisper it, have sex!) and don’t allow their husbands to get on with serious stuff like practising at the nets, working out at the gym, or even winning a match or two.
Honestly, these evil women with their wiles and their charms, seducing our heroes away from the straight and narrow path that leads to victory. These horrid witches who cast a spell on their men, turning them into a shadow of their former selves – they really should be burnt at the stake! Or at the very least, have their passports torched so that they can’t travel along with their husbands/boyfriends.
Yes, for some reason, it is always the women who bring bad luck, and the men who have to suffer as a consequence. So, if Dhoni has a bad run after he gets married, it must be his wife, Sakshi’s fault.
She must be bringing him bad luck with her presence in the stands. And if Virat is back in the pavilion no sooner than he left, it must be because he can’t bear to be away from Anushka for a minute longer.
Of the two evils, wives and girlfriends, wives are just a tad more tolerable. At least their sexual allure is a little dulled by familiarity, so they don’t distract their husbands quite so much. But girlfriends? Tauba, tauba, they must be banished forthwith so that the boys can get on with the job.
So far, so sexist. Not just about the women, who are portrayed as sex-crazed and shopping-mad harpies who won’t give their men a moment’s rest. But also about the men, who are depicted as sorry stereotypes, constantly led astray by a certain part of their anatomy.
This kind of scenario doesn’t just demonise women, it also infantilises men, to the detriment of both genders.
But on balance, as always, it is the women who come off worse. They are the ones held responsible for the non-performance/bad luck of their men.
Virat Kohli is playing so badly because Anushka Sharma is bringing him bad luck (or leaving him so exhausted and distracted that he can’t tell a full toss from a yorker). But nobody would dream of suggesting that Anushka’s movie flopped because her performance suffered as a consequence of being involved with Virat.
That’s how it has always been, hasn’t it? Blaming women for stuff that they couldn’t possibly be responsible for.
It happened centuries ago, when women who were widowed young were treated as social lepers who had to be cordoned off from society in case their bad luck infected everyone else (in some circles, this is still true even in the 21st century).
We’ve all heard of cases where young brides are castigated for having brought bad luck when a family death occurs soon after their wedding (no matter that it couldn’t possibly have been their fault). And if the death is that of the husband, then all hell breaks loose.
Yes, blaming women for all the bad stuff that goes down is as old as time itself. So, what’s been happening with Anushka Sharma is pretty much par for the course.
And you could argue that it is pretty harmless. After all, it just boils down to a few jokes on social media, a brief flurry of commentary pieces on the sports pages, and a couple of cartoons.
It’s hardly serious enough to do her any damage; as a strong, modern, successful woman, surely she knows how to take this in her stride?
And I am sure that she does. But what a pity that we live in a world in which she has to!
From HT Brunch, August 24
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