In a story that appears to have been first reported here, the Malayalam paper Mangalam decided to publish “tips to help you conceive a male child”. The original article seems to have since disappeared but the story lives on, becoming instant grist for the mill for various national and international English papers that continue in the best colonial traditions. A non-racist version of the story is here.

Expressions such as “in a country where female foeticide is rampant” and “male-dominated Indian society” are liberally strewn all over the articles, while everyone comments / shares it in self-righteous “we will never change” indignation.

What is most upsetting about the list is not that it is:

  1. stupid -> “Have sex on odd numbered days of the week for a boy”,
  2. seems to believe it is mostly up to the woman -> “Don’t miss breakfast / sleep on your left side”,
  3. aims to annoy either 20% or 70% of the Indian population depending on how one translates it -> “Eat mutton / beef for a boy” or
  4. That it is ignorant of the most basic biology in its great need to be sexist -> “Men should avoid acidity producing food so that their sperm is stronger” (yes, stronger(!), I kid you not!).

What is really upsetting about this list, is that someone in a Malayalam newspaper thought that such an article was suitable for their target audience, presumably consisting mostly of Keralites!

Let it sink in: this happened in Kerala! The same Kerala that has had a long tradition of a powerful matriarchal system (where women head the family and property is passed on through the female line). The same Kerala where women have always gone out to work, fight battles and generally provide for and protect the family as any capable adult is expected to. There is a reason for why so many women from Kerala work in difficult jobs in almost every country in the world, and that reason is Kerala’s well-established culture and history of gender-equality.

But recently, things are changing at an alarming rate. Starting with the colonial missionaries, furthered by Saudi Arabia, propagated by ridiculously myopic education systems, and finally, constantly reinforced by mindlessly sexist television shows and movies,Kerala has been under constant attack. As an extremely fertile part of the country, and thanks to its strategic location, it is being overrun by highly misogynistic cults of Abrahamic religions whose main USP is taking property (and therefore power) away from the women and keeping them as oppressed as possible. To blame is also the advent of television, especially cable TV and the ‘saas-bahu’ serials that have defined “Indian culture” (which is surprisingly, exactly the same as the British culture from Victorian times) for an entire generation of Indians. This has only hastened this decline further.

Where 50 or even 20 years ago, Kerala was the safest place for a woman to work/ walk / drive around, without giving a single thought to what she was wearing or what time it was, it has now turned into a nightmarish place where the few women on the roads are covered in layers and layers of clothing and bogged down by constantly judging proponents of Victorian “morality”.

If a society, and their government, prevents women from being independent, from contributing to the family monetarily by working, from owning property and the security that brings…if one basically prevents women from being normal, adult humans and forces them to be dependent and helpless, like children, it is not at all surprising that tabloids like Mangalam will encourage you to have “useful” male children instead of the “awful burdens” that are females! Is there any chance episodes like this will make the state government of Kerala, sit up and notice the s**t hitting the fan in the Goddess’s own country?


Tilottama

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