Guest post by NIKITA AZAD
It would be an understatement to say that apart from sexualization of young girls, society infantilizes women on a regular basis. Whether in domestic sphere where men decide what is best for the family and women, or office where men consider their women counterparts as less intelligent and inferior, such infantilization manifests itself in various forms and at various places. A similar trend can be observed in movies where men are usually portrayed as saviors whereas women are depicted as young ‘girls’ waiting to be saved. American TV serials from I Love Lucy onwards have routinely infantilized women, and contemporary Hindi soap operas too, represent and treat women as children to be taken care of by their families and husbands/lovers. Such an approach towards women not only reduces their value and identity as thinking, rational human beings, but it also provides men and the patriarchal structure an argument to justify their control over women. It strengthens the general belief that women are inferior, not only biologically but also mentally, and thus, it perpetuates male intellectual hegemony.
In recent times, many white-collar women employees and actresses have spoken against wage gap and workplace discrimination prevalent in their respective fields, which is as much a result of infantilization of women as it is that of gender discrimination. The work done by a woman, however good, is considered inferior as compared to that done by a man, based on the ground that women are more sensitive, emotional, and child-like; and are thus, there are more possibilities of their committing mistakes. Women feminists and non-feminists, who opine on social media on gender discrimination, are often seen as ones who are easily offended and are emotionally immature. Their responses are treated with sexism than with any serious arguments; the reactions are usually perceived as ‘angry’. Their Face Book and twitter accounts are filled with sexually abusive messages and their opinions are seen as having zero or less value when compared to their men counterparts. A good example would be a recent experiment done by a couple on Twitter, whereby a man and a woman, working for the same organization, The Washington Post, published two articles on similar issues but the responses they received were shockingly different. While the man’s inbox was crowded with racist comments, the woman’s inbox was filled with sexist and degrading names that the man could not bring himself to repeat on his post on Twitter.
While the consequences of the sexist practice of infantilization of women have been widely discussed in feminist circles, a study of its presence in otherwise democratic and progressive circles remains absent. Continue reading Infantilization of Women in Punjab’s Left: Nikita Azad