Not ‘Mostly Harmless’: The Underlying Misogyny Of India’s Swearing Culture

Are you feeling stressed? Angry? Frustrated? A new study shows that punching someone in the face can not only give a healthy outlet to your anger but may also relieve stress. Most importantly, it’s totally harmless and even healthy. Worst case scenario, it may hurt the other person a bit, but it will definitely heal over time. They will get used to it after all!

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?

Same is the case with profanity you use every day, which is as common as taking someone’s name. They help you release your anger, and come on, after all, what’s the big deal? Why does everyone have to be so sensitive? It’s just a word, after all. No one means it literally. It’s just used for fun. It’s friendly. And no one minds it! Grow up!

But no. It’s not okay. And YOU are the one who needs to ‘grow up’.

It’s not okay to call yourself educated and casually support the history of oppression and subjugation against women and many other communities and cultures.

Using words and phrases with women-centric connotations suggests that men are the eternal doers and women the done-upon, who obviously have no choice in the matter. If some men are not using these words or adjectives, it is because of their kindness and goodness of their heart, though they could easily fill those roles if they wished. Don’t these men deserve an award or their name framed in the hall of fame for respecting consent and agency? No. It’s not praiseworthy or exemplary to respect people. It’s basic human decency.

So don’t you dare call someone these words or other more ‘cool’ variations of these. It’s not okay to dehumanize and objectify women in any role. These words do nothing, but blatantly demote the value of a female to that of a sexual object, which only helps to fulfill carnal and lecherous desires.

Using the male equivalent of these misogynistic terms isn’t the solution. What do we actually gain by it anyway? We will only further increase the gender divide and propagate sexism. Using ‘gender-neutral’ phrases doesn’t alter the sexist history of their origin. The solution is not using derogatory words and phrases which dehumanize a whole community and a group of people, who have a right to exist and be themselves. Women aren’t weak. ‘Hijras’ are humans. ‘Retarded’ people aren’t stupid; you are ableist.

No. It’s not okay. It’s not cool. It’s not fun. No bro, not this time. It’s not okay to call yourself educated and casually support the history of oppression and subjugation against women and many other communities and cultures. Grow up!

Similar Posts

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below