Is Brahminical patriarchy benign? Are you sure you're not standing for rape, murder, and exploitation resulting from this system?

Those angry about Smash Brahminical Patriarchy do you know what youre standing forequalitylabs.org
news Opinion Saturday, November 24, 2018 - 11:09

For those who’ve tuned in just now, sometime in the third week of November, Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, during a whirlwind trip through India, met a few women journalists, activists and writers. It was probably to understand how his company’s commitment to increasing the collective health, openness, and civility in public conversations was faring in the largest democracy of the world.

At the end of this meeting, a Dalit woman activist presented him a poster that read ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’, which he held in a rather cute way and posed for a picture with all attendees of the meeting. So far, so good. Lots of health, openness, and civility, in place. A day passes. Someone decides to tweet this to the world, oblivious to what was to come.

All hell broke loose. Responses ranging from utter disbelief to calls for boycotting Twitter rent the air. Twitter India was quick to respond. With little regard to spelling or grammar, they responded, not once, but eight times to everyone who called them out on their supposed bias and hate speech. Health, openness, and civility were dusted and kept away for other countries, where the supremacists could be held accountable and public opinion was informed by democratic and humanitarian principles.

Despite the profuse apology, the Twitter storm raged unabated. And, in its mindless rampage, the storm accidently blew the lid off something that was cleverly hidden in plain sight by the Indian urban middle class – Brahminism. And, it began a classical performance in the full glare of Twitterati. Even an ex-Union Minister had to throw in his hat and talk of what a tortured minority Brahmins have been in the country. The Mandal Commission, an old and festering wound, was reopened, and hearts bled for the hardworking Brahmin children whose “rightful” jobs and medical seats were taken over by the most “undeserving and reprehensible” humans. This and a lot more of Brahmin angst brimmed across Twitter in a span of 24 hours.

All this when the original poster didn’t even refer to Brahmins specifically. Such a willful misreading belies not mischief but utter foolhardiness – which is usually the first resort of the powerful when called out. In all likelihood, they based their narrative on a simple online search, however incorrect, that caste crimes today, be it honour killings, rapes, beheadings, segregations (even during natural calamities), are never committed by Brahmins themselves and so they can never be held responsible for the crimes. It’s interesting that they did not consider the fact that their community is the originator, and currently the benefactor, of this particularly mean system of segregating people much against all popular notions of humanity. The continuance or the very existence of words like brahmin, paraiyan, baniya, kayastha, vanniyar, etc. should outrage any civilised, educated society, whose founding principles are critical thinking and scientific enquiry.

In Babasaheb Ambedkar’s words:

“How can anybody who is not a congenital idiot accept Chaturvarnya as the ideal form of society? Individually and socially it is a folly and a crime.”

As we inch towards an ideal form of society, the ills that plague the current society must be identified, called out, and obliterated. Presenting the poster to Jack Dorsey must be seen in that backdrop.

Conspicuous in their disapproval of the poster are the voices of the modern, liberal Brahmin women of Twitter. These are women who are probably no strangers to patriarchy. One of them even suggested to Jack’s mother that she gift him a brain. It’s interesting to see how they have become protectors of their men and homes, and by extrapolation, the Brahmin caste group. These are the women whose rights to remarry, vote, and property, Babasaheb Ambedkar fought for years ago. And, who did he fight? Not the British. He fought the Brahmin men, who saw women and lower castes as mere appendages to be exploited like a commodity and denied any agency of their own.

Some of the cartoons drawn in that day and age bear testimony to this poignant truth.

Image credit: Twitter/Advaid

It would be no understatement if one said Brahminical patriarchy is the bedrock of all that ails the Indian society. It is present in the very social fabric of this country, spreading its venom of hate, othering people on the basis of imaginary identities, and keeping people in eternal stupor.

People live by the Brahmin-defined, read designed, code in this country. Even things like a house-warming ceremony are conducted as per the dikats of the neighborhood Brahmin. And the first question he poses to you would be “What’s your caste?” Because even the rituals differ based on an imaginary identity, which you cannot question. For, the sanctity of the rituals lie in the unquestioning surrender to the Varnashrama dharma, which when codified in Manusmriti, prescribes death and other punishments to the transgressors. Transgressors like Swathi-Nandesh, Divya-Illavarasan, and Shankar-Gowsalya will be butchered; Paapal and Chitralekha will be ostracised; and this 13-year-oldSurekha Bhotmange, and Thangjam Manorama will be murdered in cold blood.

To all those outraging on Twitter, are you sure Brahminical patriarchy is benign? Please be sure about what you are standing for. Are you sure it's not rape, murder, and exploitation resulting from this system?

If anything, the poster and the outrage that followed confirm nothing but the rot at the very heart of this syncretic country.

The only way forward is to smash the rot to smithereens.

Smash Brahminical Patriarchy!

Hannah Dhanaraj is a Dalit professional from Chennai, India. She loves travelling, gardening, storytelling, and baking. When she isn't doing any of these, she's busy growing up her little son into a sensitive young man who believes in equality. 

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