The idyllic haven has been in danger of losing its identity with divisive rhetoric in the past. Now, angered inhabitants are up in arms.
The former Portuguese colony that became Independent on December 19, 1961, is an idyllic haven. Known for its sunny beaches, golden sands and “live and let live” laidback ideology, Goa has always had a freedom from impressions for the weary wanderer in a proactive society.
The Portuguese influence, Catholic populace, Saraswat Brahmins and other religions mingling without rancour, the state of Goa has a culture that lives and breathes harmony.
However, when Goa’s chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s commented on women starting to drink beer, he showed how regressive attitudes are still rampant in the state.
Speaking at the State Youth Parliament where he, as an IIT alumni, recalled his own youth and college years, Parrikar, in the context of the rising drug problem said, “I fear now as even girls have started drinking.” The gender bias and misogynist tenor in his speech angered all.
The idyllic haven has been in danger of losing its identity with divisive rhetoric in the past. Now, angered inhabitants are up in arms. Many were in the midst of the famed Carnival celebrations with festivity and, yes tipple!
Many took swipes at the CM with a challenge, where women and men posted pictures drinking beer with tirades. Women and men have challenged the chief minister, holding beers, saying cheers, with the #girlswhodrinkbeer hashtag. Yes, the CM’s comment was in the context of the rise of drug abuse in Goa, but people are against the regressive mentality and a gender bias.
Wendell Rodricks, designer and Goa resident says, “In this day and age, to separate girls from boys is sexist and misogynistic. This said, I hope the comment of the CM has not been taken out of context.”
Which is what many other Goans feel too. For former lawyer and Literati owner, Diviya Kapur, who posted a picture of a group of ladies drinking at the Samba Carnival in Panjim, it’s about time such attitudes were put to rest, “It is fabulous to see the spontaneous response from women to a remark that is downright sexist,” she says.
For Mumbai-based marketing consultant Neha Kapoor, the problem seeps into patriarchy. “I think that it is very problematic when a chief minister speaks about alcohol in gendered terms. When speaking of alcoholism, if you talk about how it’s bad for health, then that’s different. But when you’re actually making a statement about women and alcohol, then it’s just regressive and shows that patriarchy is just as deep-seated in society as it has always been,” she shakes her head.
Niddhi Shetty, a social media manager, agrees. “The sad thing is that these regressive comments on men in power have been coming in from a long time now. It happens in bits and pieces, and so it doesn’t really make much of a collective difference. Before this there’s been chowmein causing rapes, jeans being problematic, mobile phones leading women astray and porn — basically everything starting from alcohol will be blamed for men’s behaviour towards women, except men themselves. The foot in mouth disease is everywhere,” she explains. “The hashtag was a necessity more than anything else. It’s the only way women can actually hit back at such things — by taking to social media. This was one way to get Parrikar to know what he said was wrong; it was a good way.”
Neha posted a picture having beer with her father, but she doesn’t care for the backlash. “I believe that having that kind of open and friendly relationship with your parents is the best thing that can happen. Perhaps this initiative won’t make much of a difference, but it is definitely another drop in the bucket. Perhaps with a lot of similar movements, we can actually create a change,” she shrugs.
Laila hits back at parrikar
Laila Tyabji, social worker and craft activist, on her Facebook account, wrote, “How inconsiderate of these bad girls to frighten a former Defence Minister. God knows where this female beer drinking may lead....
I am SO SO tired of r******d patriarchal male leaders who conveniently dump all the responsibility of every social evil, be it drugs, road rage, child pornography or rape, onto women. It’s us and our clothes, our having a drink, our laughter, our working late, our driving alone at night, even our being professionally successful or just being independently ourselves, that supposedly set off these terrible happenings; inciting otherwise totally blameless, decent men into doing bad things.
So, in protest at this rubbish, following the example of my friend Bunny Suraiya, I am posting a picture of mine enjoying a glass of sangria wine, (something I’ve done for over 50 years without any deleterious consequences to anyone). I urge you all to do the same. Let’s raise a glass to feminine freedom! (sic)”