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Indians typically treat their domestic helpers with disrespect as we have no concept of a dignity of labour, as acclaimed actor Tilottama Shome found when a troll called her a 'flop actress who looks like a maid'. Read her answer
Indians typically treat their domestic helpers with disrespect as we have no concept of a dignity of labour, as acclaimed actor Tilottama Shome found when a troll called her a ‘flop actress who looks like a maid’. Read her answer.
One would imagine that after months of lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions since last year, the Indian people of privilege would finally learn to acknowledge and respect people from various social and economic classes, without whose expert assistance their day to day activities had come to the brink of chaos. If not for their being human beings and equal citizens, then at least for selfish reasons.
But, no. The oppressors refuse to better themselves.
This was proved again by some troll on social media who thought comparing Tillotama Shome, the critically acclaimed actress, to domestic helpers was an insult.
This person exposed their internalised classism and casteism when they called the actor of highly acclaimed films like Sir (2018), Death in the Gunj (2016) and others, a “flop actress who looks like a maid”.
Tillotama Shome had the perfect question in response. She asked “how is that even mildly insulting, given my situation?” She also used the hashtag dignity of labour to bring light to the dismal situation in that regard.
But why does the country refuse to grow and afford people their fundamental right to equality? The plight of domestic helpers, particularly female maids, in India is deplorable. One of the first groups of people hit by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures were the domestic helpers who found their entry to urban gated communities barred. The blatant classism and casteism behind this practice was thinly veiled by the language of medicine and social distancing. But the intent was obvious. They were being blamed for COVID, even though the economically upper strata contributed to the spread of the virus.
Even earlier, domestic helpers have always found themselves kept at an arm’s length. Staying in separate ‘servants’ quarters’, using separate utensils, the privileged employers have implemented draconian classist and casteist ‘pollution’ codes. They are often blamed for any and every untoward incident within the household, as the state and its labour laws continue to not recognise domestic workers as workers with rights. Their struggle for dignity of labour is a constant battle against the caste and class hierarchies.
In Bollywood, in particular, and the rest of the society, too, in general, colourism remains a deep-rooted problem, as indicated by this deplorable comment.
Colourism and casteism are inextricably linked in the minds of the privileged, casteist population of the country. After the Black Lives Matter movement last year, the light skin bias and the otherisation of dark skinned individuals was shed light on in India, too. From the popularisation of ‘fairness creams’ to the criteria of ‘light skin’ in matrimonial ads was discussed at length.
While some corporations producing ‘fairness creams’ that cater to colourist traditions and promote light skin privilege and pretty privilege tried to adapt to changing times, albeit inauthentically and unsuccessfully, the society at large remains disconnected to the conversation.
It is a shame that we still have to remind people that classism, casteism and colourism are deeply unethical and atrocious practices. The Constitution of India prohibits discrimination on the basis of these problematic traditions and notions. And calling somebody a maid is definitely not an insult!
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An undergraduate student of Political Science at Presidency University, Kolkata. Describes herself as an intersectional feminist and an avid reader when she's not busy telling people about her cats. Adores walking around and exploring read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
As long as teachers are competent in their job, and adhere to the workplace code of conduct, how does it matter what they do in their personal lives?
A 30 year old Associate Professor at a well-known University, according to an FIR filed by her, was forced to resign because the father of one of her students complained that he found his son looking at photographs of her, which according to him were “objectionable” and “bordering on nudity”.
There are two aspects to this case, which are equally disturbing, and which together make me question where we are heading as a society.
When the father of an 18 year old finds his son looking at photographs of a lady in a swimsuit, he can do many things. What this parent allegedly did was to dash off a letter to the University which states: