An Open Letter To Our Feminist Barkha Dutt

Sipping my tea on this lovely lovely Saturday morning,as I plan to dip my toe into the hum-drum waters of the happenings of the world, open my twitter account to try and see what the latest trending “hashtag” is. And there lodged between the daily horoscope and a tweet on the “nice guys don’t finish last”, is this open letter from a journalist who has been an inspiration to many: Barkha Dutt. Ms. Dutt, I obviously being one of those who are in love with your fierceness and the famed in-your-face feminist views, opened the link to the letter and realised that it is a letter to our now Textiles Minister, Smriti Irani.

After going through the letter, I was amazed how on being not recognised as ‘The Barkha Dutt’ by a persona, who I am sure now, you consider as a much superior individual than you, you got down to throwing muck at her through a one-sided account of what transpired between the two of you. I certainly applaud your audacity in demanding of all women that they be at least as big feminists as you supposedly are, since you won’t approve of their behaviour if they didn’t bow to your wishes.

Starting the letter with the quip as to how Irani had gotten into a useless “Dear” controversy, you declared that how she has been wasting her time with things not important. But in Irani’s defense (dare I), maybe if you have colleagues like Irani does, you too would be scarred if they started calling you “dear” (ewww, don’t get fresh, not-so-sir). You go on to say that even though you disagreed the way Irani has functioned thus far, you have never let your personal opinion creep into your discussion of her work, and respect her for “her spunk, combativeness and extraordinary self- made journey”.

That is mighty nice of you. But to start this sentiment with pointing at Irani and quoting how vicious and lacking in empathy she is to other women and the irony of her now being faced with the same behaviour is a tad too much. Considering that first she is a politician, and secondly that she is constantly under malicious bantering and busy fighting it off, I ask you mam, where do you think, she has the occasion to express the empathy you expect of her? I like your flair for hope in humanity though.

You then talk of how at a small Amethi dhaba, Irani gave you a vicious response to your question of her regrets of her tenure. Now, I do not know why you expected Irani to have a heart to heart with you amongst hoardes of people who most definitely were there for the charisma which the political figure was expected to exude. I disagree that her comment “My regret is I am giving an interview to you and your channel,” was at all a personal remark on you, but definitely a reflection on the malicious criticism handed over through the analysis of her performance and views, from someone who was at the receiving end of it all, likes of you and your channel. The same hurt which is plainly smeared all across your letter under reference.

It was a response to the implied message of most TV Channels that her superior’s opinion is that she was unfit for the portfolio she was made responsible for. You on the other hand, fell into the trap of self-pity by calling it malicious and personal on account of the differences of opinions you have had with her style of working. And may I add here, that Irani being an arm of the BJP is definite not Mr. Modi himself. You cannot expect her to act and react as charismatically as he does in difficult situations or have any right to start comparing her with anyone, including yourself (more so, with yourself as per your own image of you). For that matter, no one can be expected to be that calm and sorted publically, all the time.

You then mention, and rightly so that Irani had the audacity to declare that she had given a breath of life to the career of Congress spokeswoman Priyanka Chaturvedi and that her motto is: “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. That’s my personal motto for Twitter trolls.” It is painful to see that a woman of her stature and her influence would joke about another woman getting rape threats and in no way is it correct for her to compare such a situation with people taking digs on her life.

And mam, it was definitely pained to learn as to what happened in your case, when your number was made public and you were stalked on whatsapp by lowly elements of the society. But, may I say, that it is not right on your part to compare your courage in handling the situation to the way she handles her. It is, in no way, agreeable to shun someone publicly when they do not function as human-beings, in line with the standards you wish they would.

Yes, you are brave and amazingly in control of your reactions to such horrid situations, but may I ask, as to why would you take that as a lever to catapult crap on someone else who might be going through similar situations.

You in various parts of the letter have made it clear that how you were heartbroken the way Smriti Irani has let women down, by not violently addressing how women should be treated right and justly. Also, how on many occasions she has not publicly applauded other women for their amazing guts and thought process. I agree that she, on such a platform and with her stature, should take each and every occasion available to rally for the equal rights of women, but I also understand that you don’t consider her not exactly as evolved as a human being as a lot of us would wish to be. Also, you have to grant her this leeway because, let’s face it, presently she has some of her own direct battles to fight as a woman and a feminist, and maybe she needs some time to spread that to the whole womanhood.

It just went downhill when you made it about yourself by mentioning how in her posts she had asked you to “zip it” and how you would not, since you have a feminist frenzy. You end it with a statement that you will still stand for her rights as a woman, even though she doesn’t stand for others. Please don’t! For the love you hold feminism, do not hold feminism as a hostage to try and form this band of women where no one admires anyone for being human, but just for being a woman.

It is just weird and bewildering that you would try to explain that you are the bigger person by saying that you would still stand for her, after metaphorically slapping her across her face over and over in this letter. Let’s understand that you being the evolved human being that you are, need to be reintroduced to the fact that you cannot just start thrashing someone publicly just because they do not act or behave like you want them to. No one should care to justify themselves to you for their behaviour, just because you are hurt by who they are.

You can read Barkha Dutt’s letter Here.
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