Imagine training to be wrestler, earning credentials and respect in your district and then being objectified by a politician who is addressing your contribution to the sport? Well, BJP Member of Parliament (MP) Banshilal Mahto doesn’t seem to think there’s anything amiss about his statements. Mahto was addressing a wrestling competition for women when he saw fit to describe girls from Chhattisgarh as being ‘tan-a-tan’. This slang term is the equivalent of saying ‘ooh that girl’s in fine form’, in a sleazy fashion. It is essentially a term that’s used in the context of objectifying someone. Although this term is sometimes used jovially in conversation, putting this in context with women makes it very sexist, an attitude Mahto seems oblivious to.
According to a report, he’d remarked, “[Chhattisgarh] Sports minister Bhaiyalal Rajwade often tells me that now there is no need for girls from Mumbai and Kolkata. Turis (girls, in Chhattisgarhi dialect) from Korba and girls of Chhattisgarh are now becoming tan-a-tan.” This could have easily been a reference to the proficiency that girls from Chhattisgarh are displaying in sport, except his tone (and he was caught saying this on camera) suggested otherwise.
This isn’t the first time an MP has tried to pass off sexist remarks about women. In 2015, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav had commented in Rajya Sabha that South Indian girls have a ‘great figure’ because they dance, much to dudebros in the House laughing their heads off, while female members looked on in shock. He also added saying, “The women of South [India] are dark but they are as beautiful as their bodies.” Please note the wonderful usage of ‘but’ to reflect both racist and sexist implications of his comment.
We would like to know what the likes of Yadav and Mahto were smoking when they walk onto a public platform and mouth off careless comments about women? We see this is in everyday life too. After every sexist punchline, women are expected to take it in their stride and laugh along. ‘Grow a pair, it was just a joke’ women are told. Sure we will, after Yadav, Mahto and all the sexist boy bands grow some common sensitivity. We don’t know about Chhattisgarh girls being ‘tan-tana-tan’, but we’re fairly certain Mahto has left them tan-tana-stunned.