“Don’t worry guys, you will find the best looking women when you leave this campus. Aur woh tumhaare liye roti belengi“
This was the remark made by Palash Sen, lead vocalist of the band Euphoria, at this year’s IIT-B fest to the men in the crowd, making a reference to the lesser number of women in IITs as compared to men. Instead of expressing concern about this fact (which is a manifestation of the gender divide in higher studies), such a remark justified the higher presence of men in the crowd and successfully ‘othered’ any women that were present. There were many cheers from the audience, but also some jeers from both women and men in the crowd. The jeers got drowned out then, but opposition to such blatant sexist remarks did not. One of the students at IIT who was present at the concert, Arpita Phukan Biswas, posted in her blog about Palash Sen’s remarks and the post went viral. Many supported her views of not suffering sexism silently, while the post also got some negative comments.
Such a remark is condescending not just towards women, but men too. It not only assumes that women are for “beloing” rotis, it also assumes that most men would expect their wives to do so.
Palash Sen also sends the message that “beautiful” women cannot be intelligent and vice versa, and perhaps that “intelligent” men are not beautiful? Such remarks by celebrities have a significant effect, because they are followed and admired by a lot of people. Be it songs, movies or comments on such concerts, they become a part of common and accepted discourse. People take it lightly and if one opposes such remarks, it is said that it was “just a joke”. Arpita Phukan Biswas was one of the first to oppose Palash Sen’s remarks and we support her. Sexism is not funny, period. Having a good sense of humour does not mean laughing at sexist jokes. There surely are many other ways of healthy laughter. There should be zero tolerance towards sexism just as there is towards racism and casteism.