I was sitting in the living room with my grandmother and her guests- my grandma’s sister and her husband. The husband is very passionate about politics, and every time he visits, that’s all he talks about. The previous times he’d visited, the conversation was only enjoyed by all the uncles. Even when I tried to listen, my grandma sent me to check on the snacks or started engaging me in a conversation about things I was not as interested in.
This time, I decided to join the uncle.
(Before proceeding, let me mention that I am a little infamous in my family for having rigid/extreme opinions, and often talking about things that may make people feel uncomfortable on the dinner table)
Hence when my family noticed that I was listening carefully to what the guest had to say about his stance on particular issues, they all became a little wary. At first, my grandma asked me to check the kitchen if the snacks were ready. I did. They were. They got served. When I returned, I started talking. I entered the conversation- asking questions, countering his arguments, basically being active in the discussion which was only being enjoyed by the men in the room (my grandfather, dad and the uncle). By the end, uncle was impressed with me, and asked me about what I studied in college and if we had a good faculty for political science. I told him all about the structure and system of education in my college, and he wished me best of luck. Grandma was relieved and happy. I was proud for voicing my views.
I have often observed, on multiple occasions, that in most households and social gatherings, only the men in the family discuss politics. Women, even the highly educated and financially independent ones talk about other things- like shopping, the household, maids, cooking, chores etc. I have observed this polarization very often- with the men sitting in a different area with their whiskeys, and women on the other side also expected to serve snacks and offer refills during breaks from their conversations. I wonder why, especially considering the following point.
Humanities is often considered to be a “girl’s stream”. It usually consists of a cluster subjects like History, Political Science, Sociology, Psychology etc. Men are apparently more cut out for “tough subjects” like physics, math etc. Boys are often even ridiculed for taking humanities in school. So, if Political science, sociology etc are for women to study, then why is it such a big deal when they engage in conversations regarding the same? Is it bad because they appear intellectual and knowledgeable? If these subjects are assigned to your gender role, then why is it a huge shock to everyone when you overtly discuss them?
To support this point, lets talk about how many women there are in politics in India- hardly any. Women have a poor 11% representation in India’s Lok Sabha and 10.6% in the Rajya Sabha, making India 108th among 188 countries covered in the annual analysis on statistics of women members of parliament (MPs) conducted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). (Source- TOI)
So are women too stupid to understand politics, governance, ideology, leadership? I don’t think so. Let’s think more about this issue, develop opinions, and start expressing them. If we want to see more women representation in politics, we need to start at home, literally.