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#TokyoOlympics2020: Stereotypes through micro-aggression


Ground Report | New Delhi: #TokyoOlympics2020; Amidst the high of the #TokyoOlympics2020, India is turning into a sports enthusiastic nation. This is the same nation where Schools have literally two physical education classes in a week, taught by a least enthusiastic sports teacher. Even those two classes are taken by mathematics, or science teacher to finish their course. If you think, during those physical education classes, girls are least interested in learning the practicality of the sports. Is it on them? I don’t think so.

The female participation in sports in school during PE class always comes as a surprise. There are very few girls who are enthusiastic about any sport. The reasons for the same are fairly straightforward and don’t need a mention in this essay. Rather, I’ll mention, our nation is full of paradoxical situations, and hypocrisy. 

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When Mirabai Chanu, from Manipur–yes, mentioning the state is important– won the silver medal in weightlifting at the #TokyoOlympics2020, the entire country was overwhelmed with joy. But the joy is so bizarre, and hypocritical as most Indian families consider sports as a hobby, not a profession. Right now, go on social media, and witness the country turning patriarchal towards every sportswoman from India in the Olympics.

The idea, here, is to mention the struggles of aspiring sportspeople. Above that are the gender stereotypes that make it even difficult for women to aspire to be a sportsperson. Through this premise, let us talk about microaggressions which generally are not noticeable. This micro-aggression re-establish the stereotypes around gender, every day. I’ll mention them from the world of advertisement. 

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While I was walking back from work, an advertisement for SBI mutual funds started playing on my Spotify app. The voiceover says, ‘Biwi ki lambi shopping list bhi nahin’. I mean, yes, rub those stereotypes on my space, again & again. The husband is the earner of the family, and all that a woman wants is to shop. Yet another example, in a Microtek Infrared Thermometer advertisement. The advertisement is cross-cutting between three female characters — a doctor, a businesswoman, and a homemaker,– talking about the qualities of the thermometer.

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Then, the voiceover starts, which says, ‘Haar Garhani ki Pehle Pasand’. I mean, what even? The Hindi word Garhani– ‘गृहिणी’– means homemaker. A doctor, a businesswoman, and a homemaker, and yet to the makers of that advertisement she is nothing but a guarani. These are microaggressions. The comments negatively target, or re-affirm a stereotype towards an already marginalised group.

These are the micro-aggressions presented as stereotypes, often dismissed. Next time, when you cheer for a sportsperson’s win, the least you can do is reflect. Think about the contribution you have made in that win, or how have you motivated people around you to do that same. If the only contribution is that you were born in a certain, in a certain century, that’s just sheer coincidence. Those advertisements just annoy me, and I am surprised, no one around me even notices such micro-aggressions.

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