One thing that stood out most, was that she was a woman in the male bastion of politics.

Why women admire Jayalalithaa flaws and all
news Jayalalithaa Tuesday, December 06, 2016 - 15:39

Amma was no saint, for certain, but there was something about her that moved people – regardless of the backgrounds they come from. Some expressed this simply with wracking sobs, and others with articulate posts on social media, expressing their thoughts. 

One thing that stood out most for people, was that she was a woman in the male bastion of politics. 

Kiruba Mususamy, a Supreme Court advocate, said that despite her flaws, Jayalalithaa mattered. She was a woman who stormed the male bastion of politics. 

“Howsoever imperialistic you may be, it is extremely shocking and heart-breaking to know that you are no more!

Your struggle as an independent woman, actress, politician, leader and chief minister must have been much tougher than known in this patriarchal and abusive world.

You have lived such a powerful life. Your life journey is so inspiring. You are an irreplaceable woman. Salutes to you, Iron Lady!

It's enough to fight. You will always be remembered for your perseverance. Let your soul, at least now, rest in peace Amma J. Jayalalitha!”

Charanya Kannan’s Facebook post about Jayalalithaa has been shared over 14,900 times in 19 hours. Posted with a black-and-white image of Jayalalithaa in a sari and smiling at something the camera can’t see, Charanya talks about Jayalalithaa as the ultimate survivor. 

She recalled instances of when Jayalalithaa was harassed – when Janaki’s supporters pinched and stepped on her feet after MGR’s death, and later when she almost disrobed when she opposed the presentation of Karunanidhi’s budget in 1989.

“She was a glamorous actor who cannot, by definition, be taken seriously. Above all, she was a woman trying to ascend to power in 1980s in Tamilnadu. An unmarried, childless woman. To put it in context, she was not only walking a path of thorns, she did it in an oxygen less chamber while her arms and legs were tied. It’s a feat that she survived at all, not to mention that she actually thrived (sic),” Charanya wrote.

A resident of Bengaluru brought up in Chennai, Sreya Vittaldev said on Facebook that “We have seen Amma stand in the face of misogyny, rule with an iron fist in a country where women power in politics and generally in life has consistently been challenged. We have seen her sacrifice a familial life for a life of service to the mass.”

She said that people dismissed the emotional outpouring on the street as “sycophancy” because “the rest of the nation will never ever understand the sentiments of Dravidian politics and how Jayalalithaa's rise to power is important for an entire state of people… To tearfully bid goodbye to such greatness, is something one will not understand till you have lived in Tamil Nadu.”

“I salute Jayalalithaa Amma for all her grace, ferocity, love and resilience. Mikka nandri Amma.”

Gurugram-based women’s rights activist Usha Aravamudham Saxena spoke of Jayalalithaa’s Tamil Brahmin background and how she was possibly ostracised because of it. 

“She was a distant cousin-by-marriage, someone we kids caught a glimpse of at family weddings in the extremely closed Tam Brahm Iyengar community in Bangalore. Already a glamorous actress, living in sin with "that malayalee" (followed usually by a disdainful TamBrahm sniff). 

Growing older afforded me a more critically objective and political assessment of what exactly she had accomplished, and despite all the corruption and scams she was found neck-deep in, a grudging admiration that she was holding her own in inimitable style, in a male-dominated arena. Yes, the lesser evil...

I don't mourn the passing of privileged, rich, famous, old people. But I do feel a twinge of regret that we have lost a woman political leader of some stature, who sadly did not invest in passing on her legacy to another doughty woman. The patriarchy retains its stranglehold.”

Bengaluru-based journalist Indulekha Aravind felt that there was more to Jayalalithaa than the quiet fierceness she exuded. 

“The last time she was close to death, in October, I read Vaasanthi s biography and watched the Simi interview. It felt strange then. Not to eulogise at all, but there was a lot to her we didn't often think about - the reluctance with which she entered cinema in the first place (to make ends meet) to her mostly lonely struggles. But with this, I also hope that media in TN can now report freely and fearlessly without the threat of that imminent defamation case,” she said.

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