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India Today Anchor Asks Lieutenant General Madhuri Kanitkar A Sexist Question; She Fires Back

Posted: March 4, 2020

In an interview on India Today, the anchor called recently appointed Lt-Gen Madhuri Kanitkar “not just an army wife”, and asked what it took to reach the top “in what is seen as a man’s world”! Sexist language, much?

From going into space to driving taxis there is no profession that women have not left a mark on. Yet, some professions are still considered to be “a man’s job”, like in some sports, armed forces, even some closer home like carpenters, plumbers, etc. 

Women have been breaking this stereotype by proving that being good in a profession depends on hard work, not on one’s gender. Still, they are questioned about their survival and placement in this “man’s world”, despite them having proven their mettle to get where they are.

Lieutenant General Madhuri Kanitkar was recently interviewed by India Today following her recent appointment to the post, India’s 3rd woman officer appointed to this post.  

Sexist and patronising

In a 3 minute interview on India Today, news anchor Gaurav Sawant asked three questions to Lt. General Madhuri Kanitkar. 

It began well, with Gaurav Sawant asking her if, 37 years ago when she joined the army, she had thought that, in 37 years, she would become a 3 -star General? To which Lt-Gen Madhuri Kanitkar replied that she hadn’t, but “had been very clear that I want to spend the rest of my life in this uniform.”

Then it went downhill, with Gaurav Sawant asking his cringeworthy question: “In an uniform, not just be an army wife… your husband, Gen Kanitkar, is a 3-star General himself of the mechanised forces…ma’am, in your appreciation, what did it take to reach the top in what is seen, as a ‘man’s world’?”

Lt-Gen Kanitkar listened politely, smiled (I’m sure many must have asked her this question!), and fired it back.  

I think it’s not really a man’s world. I think it finally hard work, professionalism, and a place where your capabilities are really appreciated… what you need is finally a passion for what you do.”

I hope the anchor was suitably chastised, or maybe he is more thick skinned than the likes of me, cringing as I listened, are.

Women are more than just their gender, but yes, in a world that invalidates their abilities, they know that they need to put in all their passion to get to a place where the Lt-Gen is currently. 

In fact, at one point in the interview, after acknowledging the recent SC ruling where women can now get permanent commission and can hold command positions in the armed forces, she actually says that “the organisation goes one step, and the women go forward two steps”… putting the focus on the extraordinary way women are grasping all opportunities available to them with both their hands, in a more inclusive environment that is “using only capability and potential as a yardstick.”

The anchor, Gaurav Sawant’s tone deaf questions just go to show that there is so much of male bias, a patronising sense of entitlement, and internalised misogyny in the simplest of interactions with achievers who also happen to be women.

To her credit, the Lt-Gen gave it back with enough grace for both of them. 

Watch the interview here

This conversation again proves how it’s high time that society understands that honest work, and professional commitment is not something that can be gendered. And once someone gets a job their gender is not what takes them forward and makes them successful.

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