Thursday, March 29, 2007

he thinks he thinks

Via Uma, I discovered Shashi Tharoor's latest article with many a pearl of wisdom.

For instance, how he felt, in China and Japan, a perverse pride that we in India had entered the 21st century in clothes that our ancestors had sported for much of the preceding 20.


I continue, then.

The assumption of women having to be alluring is so preadamite that one is too disgusted to even argue. What is disconcerting is the brazen sexism in the whole article, beginning with the moot point of: why can't women dress up as I like seeing them dolled up? to mocking at some arbitrary notion of liberation revolving around wearing a salwar kameez that women supposedly have fostered over the years.

In the article, he posits some manufactured notion of modernity versus tradition, ice-skating precariously on the issue, and making me recall with great affection the nuanced treatment Orhan Pamuk lends the same question in his superb novel,
Snow. (Of course, that is not to say Snow was about this question alone.)

Sigh, Shashi!

Cricketers retire, coaches get murdered, actors fade away, politicians get assassinated, the better writers get fatwaed... but fools, they endure. Nothing ever affects them.

Related links: A spirited response from Emma; Nanopolitan's take; Soultrot's argument; Arvind's superb satirical reworking of Shashi Tharoor's article


GettingThereNow said...

Nice! Short and Acerbic - just the way I like it :D Followed your link from Emma's blog. Will definitely come back as I like what I read. said...

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angry fix said...

@ gettingtherenow,
Thank you!

Tatabyebyeseeyouok, ok?

menon said...

you mean women are not supposed to always look alluring?
hot damn, this changes a lot of things.
but hey, if someone from the UN says its true, then it must be true, right?

random reader said...

You linked to Tharoor's article, and even though I read it after I had finished reading your post, I don't think he was saying anything more loaded than "it would be a pity if the sari because an exotic dress in its own land"

So while he does mention the aesthetic plusses and the practical minuses of sarees, I think he is ruing more the possibility of the saree's demise than passing judgement on the (non?) wearer.

But then again, I particularly like your last sentence, and independent of context, I completely agree.

angry fix said...

@ random reader,
Thanks for stopping by.

I quite agree with what you're saying, in fact, I'm sure Shashi Tharoor was lamenting the fall of the sari. But in true Tharoorian fashion, he has walked into dangerous territory.

If as you say, his notion is around aesthetics, would you like to clarify how exactly aesthetics are related/ unrelated to class, gender and identity? And that's where the problem lies. In dictating what a section of society must wear, he is subjecting women to what someone once called the "male gaze".

Moreover, I find it nothing less than disgusting that the only subject related to women he could think of was the sari.

Perhaps artistic barrenness and a lack of political awareness are not two separate things after all.

PS: A few years back, I remember reading an article where he vented spleen against a woman who criticised him for wearing a mundu, the South Indian dhoti. Sigh.

Swar Thounaojam said...

Why doesn't Shashi wear the sari himself? WAIT! HE ACTUALLY WROTE THIS - "And this is not just a northern phenomenon, the result of the increasing dominance of our culture by Punjabi-ised folk who think nothing of giving masculine names to their daughters." Well, well, with his lovely unisex name and demure bangs floating dreamily over his forehead, tharoor can be our bharatiya sari icon.

angry fix said...

@ Swar,
If he heard you say this, he'll probably write another op-ed about how the young people of today don't appreciate unisex names and manes.

And muse (in another highly-paid editorial that would've indirectly resulted in the death of a thousand useful trees) about how his generation is, or was, most tolerant of women... as long as they had feminine names, feminine manes, wore feminine clothes and feminine attitudes; they were free to do what they wanted, really. No, really.

Shashi Tharoor is, after all, a progressive artist.

Guru said...

My response to the original piece by Shashi

menon said...

i'm really getting quite tired of visiting this site and seeing nothing but tharoor's photogenic mug.
please don't let your only contribution to the blogging world be comments on everyone else's blogs.