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The Great Indian Misogynistic Mentality That Got Offended By Breastfeeding!

Mar 05, 2018

The Great Indian Misogynistic Mentality That Got Offended By Breastfeeding!
The Great Indian Misogynistic Mentality That Got Offended By Breastfeeding! | Credit: Grihalakshmi

The cover of a Malayalam magazine called ‘Grihalakshmi’ has created a furore recently. The said cover features a model who is shown breastfeeding and has a caption that translates to ‘Don’t stare, we want to breastfeed’. This has gotten a section of the society so enraged that a case has been registered on the editors of the magazine, the model and the management representatives slamming the ‘indecent representation of women’. While the people of the country are divided in their opinions, let us take a minute to think about how we, as a country, are looking at our women today.

Today, the mentality of Indian men and women is shaped by what the society dictates. We are bought up to live by the rules of what is acceptable and what is not. We have heard our parents and grandparents say, “Oh what will the society say” way too often in discussions relating to even life-changing topics like marriage and career. Somewhere along these lines, we have created an extremely misogynistic mindset in our men and sadly in our women too.

The constantly judged average Indian woman is somehow not able to emphasise with other women and ends up becoming judgemental of other women at the drop of the hat. Picture this, a woman goes to a supermarket and gets a condom among other groceries. The woman at the billing counter takes one look at this and makes a hundred judgements about the customer while also giving her looks of disapproval to make her feelings clear. Why is the woman made to feel like a criminal for buying something that is totally legal? Why is she judged as a woman who is ‘not good’ for no fault of hers?

We are a country that respected women as goddesses. Our goddesses have been depicted as powerful beings that guarded the whole of humanity. How did we get here from there?

In fact, in 1980, an Indian postal stamp was released by the Postal Department to put the spotlight on breastfeeding. The stamp shows an Indian mother feeding her baby. 

Today, we hear of stories of rape that get more horrifying each day. Somewhere in the midst of these rape stories and our population getting offended by something as natural as breastfeeding, isn’t the double standard clearly visible?

Breastfeeding problems faced by mothers are real-

Mothers need to breastfeed for their own health and for the health of the baby. If we are viewing this act from a sensual angle and sexualising the most natural act of a mother, what does that say about us? Just because people do not have the integrity to respect a feeding mother, are women expected to put that before the health of the baby and her own health and postpone the feed?

The advocate who has registered the case against the magazine claims that the model is merely posing and is not a real mother who is breastfeeding. Even if that is the case, it is clear that the magazine wanted to create a dialogue about the issues that mothers face while breastfeeding. The model might not be a real mother, but the issue is real. 

We are expecting mothers to leave the child hungry or to feed the child in an unhygienic public toilet just because we do not have the decency to look away. It is truly a matter of shame that our country has come to this.

Where do we go from here?

Clearly, we cannot stoop lower. So, at least for that reason, let us try to go forward instead of backward. Women don’t need to be respected with special preference. What we need today is just the common sense that both men and women are but the same species, living in the same environment, facing the same challenges, yearning for the same love. That is a plain basic fact. Apart from the biological difference between the two genders, there is, in reality, no other reason to treat one gender differently from another gender. Doesn't this sound so simple and true? Why are we not able to recognise this? It is high time we rethink our values and set things straight. Because there is a whole new generation ahead of us and it is our responsibility to make sure that their world is a fair one.