How Sexist Remarks Forced Me To Walk Out Of A Religious Teacher’s Sermon

Posted on September 4, 2016 in Sexism And Patriarchy

By Priya Sancheti:

It was another routine day, my mother and sister were going to listen to the guruji’s ‘pravachan’ (sermon). Since it was a holiday, my father had agreed to go along with them. The thought occurred to me that I would have to be alone at home and that I could get bored so I decided to go along.

I was astonished to see that guruji was actually a very good orator and he happened to have a really good following – mostly women. I liked how he took us through the ancient stories until he decided to speak on the topic of ‘sanskaar‘ and started blaming women for all the mishaps in society. I assumed that perhaps he may just want people to be more appropriate with customs and traditions.

But to my surprise, he went on to blame women yet again for the ‘unsuitable atmosphere’ for children at home. To be precise, he asked all the young girls and women to not wear jeans, rather, wear a veil so that no other man looks at her face and desires her. They were not to use smartphones, as smartphoned would destroy their family values and provide exposure to the outside world which could ‘corrupt’ her. They are not supposed to talk to boys, they should not go out dining and eat junk food as these are against values.

I was not able to tolerate his remarks against women. I told my mother that I can’t stay any longer. She tried to convince me to not leave the pravachan in the middle as that would show disrespect against guruji. I wanted to shout and ask her that if it is okay for him to disrespect women. I just shot up, bowed down to guruji and left.

When my parents reached home, they asked me the reason behind my walking away in the middle of the pravachan. I told them how he insensitive he was with his remarks against women and I could not take it as a woman. It offended me a lot.

Later that day, my father asked me, what would have happened if all the women who had attended the pravachan, had walked away along with me and concluded by saying that either guruji had to apologise to all the women for his language or else he won’t be able to give any more pravachan here. I was relieved and I knew then that change has already occurred in minds and just needs a nudge every now and then.