Last night – 24th March 2013 PONDS – the setter of standards of beauty, and FEMINA the guidebook for the woman of substance, crowned one of our’s – Miss India 2013. Ponds Femina Miss India 2013.
In 1969, Carol Hanisch wrote an essay titled ‘Some thoughts in response to Dottie’s thoughts on a Woman’s Liberation Movement’. This paper was later edited by Firestone and Koedt and renamed ‘The Personal is Political’. Political used here, is in the broad sense of having to do with power relationships, not in the narrower definition of electoral politics.
In response to the Miss America Pageant in 1968, Hanisch wrote on how all women, including the participants of beauty pageants are oppressed by standards of beauty. The feminist war cry – ‘the personal is political’ does not apply only to women, but to men, to children, to our societies, our cultures and our daily lives.
As Saswat Pattanayak writes in his piece this month, “Recognizing our everyday acts as political inevitably propels us towards choosing between options that disturb a sense of tranquility; it forces us to become agitated at seemingly innocent movies, playful jokes, and otherwise enjoyable music”.
Anusha Rizvi, director of Peepli Live, in an interaction with students at a Kindle college event asked the audience to vote by a show of hands, who all had found the ‘Balatkar’ speech in the film 3 IDIOTS funny. Without exception, all hands went up including mine. Some students started reciting the speech verbatim and the entire hall swept into fresh peals of laughter.
Laughing at a speech about rape and attending marches to protest against rape.
Does this mean we are apolitical? Or does this mean we maintain double standards?
To quote Saswat again – “From the very childhood , we are encouraged to live with absolute notions of virtues and vices , of personal and political . As a result, we cleverly distinguish between our thoughts and actions, and remarkably manoeuvre and skillfully compromise as we go along in life. In our personal lives therefore, God reigns supreme, but in political lives, corruption becomes mandatory. In our temples, we refuse Dalits entry, but within our constitution, we claim to treat all equally .On the streets we can question every authority, but inside our families, silence reigns when the man of the family speaks. Such contradictions abound because we do not sufficiently employ political lenses to understand how our environment determines our consciousness, or vice versa”.
In the final question and answer session of the Ponds Femina Miss India contest, all the finalists were asked the same question – If you were to die tomorrow , what would be your biggest regret ?
“The only thing I would regret would be not having done as much for society as I would like to. Issues of women’s empowerment and child labour and social evils are a big concern” They gave her the crown.
“Prospero, you are the master of illusion.
Lying is your trademark.
And you have lied so much to me
(lied about the world, lied about me)
that you have ended by imposing on me
an image of myself.
underdeveloped, you brand me, inferior,
That ís the way you have forced me to see myself
I detest that image! What’s more, it’s a lie!
But now I know you, you old cancer,
and I know myself as well.”
– Caliban, in Aime Cesaire’s The Tempest