Subramanian Swamy, spokesperson for Indian 'manhood'? | india | Hindustan Times
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Subramanian Swamy, spokesperson for Indian 'manhood'?

Twitter was set abuzz with Dr. Subramanian Swamy asking the nation to decide whether they wanted to be a 'virat Hindu renaissance civilization' or secular 'hijdas'. Dhruba Jyoti Purkait explores why India feels the constant need to 'man up'.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2013 15:53 IST
Dhruba Jyoti Purkait
Dhruba Jyoti Purkait

Twitter was set abuzz with Dr. Subramanian Swamy asking the nation to decide whether they wanted to be a 'virat Hindu renaissance civilization' or secular 'hijdas'. Subsequently, some pointed out to Swamy that Hijda could scarcely be used as slang and that they too were human. Swamy and his supporters magnanimously admitted that 'hijdas' were human but proceeded to explain that they were only trying to say that some characteristics of 'hijdas' were shared by 'sickulars'.

What those characteristics are, @Swamy39 doesn't explain. But we can hazard a guess. Not being a man. And that is where the utopia of the "Hindu renaissance nation" comes tumbling down; for, Swamy's Hindu nation has no place for any form of minority, least of all the sexually marginalized, who don't fit the image of the virile young male-hood that has come to be identified with strength, power and desirability.

A Firstpost columnist had once wondered how a Harvard-educated professor makes such remarks which reek of ignorance and bigotry. To be honest, calling a "hijda" a birth defect has got nothing to with education, neither does calling being gay, a mental disorder. The problem is more insidious.

From our childhood, we are taught that the ultimate benchmark is Herculian manhood; the biggest compliment a woman CEO receives is that she is as tough as a man. Our notions of eMANcipation stem from a need to ape the social characteristics of malehood and from the same tie stems our derision of anything that subverts that manhood.

Being a 'hijda' is therefore especially disturbing for Dr. Swamy. How can you be assertive and not shameful of your identity if you are not a man? Not being a biological man has to necessitate lack of spine, ability and leadership.

It is a sad commentary of a society that is trying to fight crimes against women if it views anything other than the biological male as a lesser being. Be it "BE a MARD" or Swamy's vitriol, we are constantly enforcing the importance of "being the right kind of man", "being a real man" and so on. We are a nation of quick fixes. Hence we don't question why we have to identify women as property, as bearer of honour and as sisters and mothers, instead of as fellow beings. We want our rapists castrated but we never wonder why not having the male sexual organ is the ultimate punishment in our minds.

There is a small piece of paper pinned to a clipboard in my office. Presumably put up after the Delhi rape case, it reads, "Real man please stand up." The real renaissance will be a day when one wouldn't have to be a "real man" to stand up in this country.

(The views expressed are personal.)