Q. What is the first thing I do after waking up in the morning?
A. I check my Whatsapp.
(I check my Whatsapp not because I have been expecting an urgent message from Narendra Modi, I check it because it is my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Checking smartphone throughout the day is symptomatic of my progressive OCD).
Q.What messages awaits me?
A. Series of ‘good morning’ wishes with ugly flower bouquets and inspirational quotes from family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, school mates, college mates, ex-colleagues, fellow mothers from son’s school, and even ex-boyfriends. With so many wishes my day should not only be ‘good’ but ‘best’. However, in most days the wishes fail to work and my day turns out boring and often challenging.
The other day my maid, who is new on whatsapp, sent me a ‘good morning’ flower bouquet. Followed by a voice message that she won’t come for next 6 days as her grandmother died (this is the sixth time her grandmother died. Either her grandmother is dying in instalment or her grandfather had a harem).
As the day follows these flowers and images are replaced by forwarded stereotypical jokes and memes. In most of the jokes, women are at the receiving end. These jokes are enjoyed and appreciated not only by men but even women. Apparently people find them damn funny. I am part of few women’s only groups and even those groups are not spared of these forwards. I guess, more than the flowers, teddy bears and motivational messages these jokes get on my nerves. I hate any kinds of stereotypes and these jokes just re-establish the age old stereotypes that have been used against women.
What are the stereotypes?
- Women love shopping, they spend hours in shopping malls — Really?? All women?? I don’t!! And I know millions who would echo. Don’t men love shopping?? If not, then why do we have billions of products, clothes, accessories catering to men?? Whenever we go shopping, it is the better half who spends hours inside the store while I grumpily await the shopping extravaganza to get over.
- They keep on buying clothes even if their wardrobe is overflowing with clothes–Probably, Sonam Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan does but they do not represent all women.
- They wear make-up. Layers and layers of make-up—That means Mother Teresa, PT Usha, Kiran Bedi, Mamta Banerjee and yours truly are not women. Millions of underprivileged women all across the world are so busy struggling to get two meals a day that they cannot even afford to think of make-up. Lines of poverty on their face are the only make-up they have. Make-up is a choice not a necessity for most women.
- They love to gossip—Yellow Journalism was started by men. Tabloids all over the world have predominantly male journalists. Paparazzi are not jobs exclusively reserved for women.
- They spend hours in front of the mirror—Probably they do. Many wake up in the morning and stare at the mirror to examine the scar or the bruise or the blue marks they got the previous night. They keep staring while wondering do I deserve this. He had said he loved me. Is this love?
- Their only job is to spy on their husband—Yes, they do spy only when they get time after finishing their cooking, cleaning, vacuuming, ironing, bathing the kids, putting the clothes in the washing machine, feeding the kids, dusting, helping the child with home work and school projects…..my hand is aching. I cannot type the exhaustive list.
- They love diamonds and gold— If they are offered love, respect, and peace in exchange, how many would still want gold? I know many, and literally many, who would rush to a bookstore instead of a jewellery store. There are many who would exchange their gold and hop on a flight to go overseas.
- Husbands are scared of wives— this is the most hilarious stereotype. In a country where we had to impose special laws to protect married women from getting killed, isn’t this the most ridiculous stereotype.
- Women are dumb— Well, I agree women are dumb. We are dumb because we laugh at these jokes and send ROFL, LOL, LMAO and all those smiling smileys. Had we not been dumb we wouldn’t have allowed these jokes and memes to circulate all over the internet. Instead of smiles we should be sending guns to whoever forwards these jokes.
- They love to click selfies—so does men.
These jokes are forwarded within our closed groups. The men who forward these jokes are often our father, brother, husband, friend and son. Even women are guilty of forwarding. As conscious human beings our first step should be to raise voice against these misogynist and classist jokes. What appears like casual light hearted humour is in reality the root of a greater misogyny. Stop stereotyping women and thus stop circulating these jokes and memes.
This post featured on Blogadda homepage.
This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) hosted by Nabanita. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists.
Linking this post to #MondayMusings hosted by dear Corinne.