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As Women Contested in Pakistan Elections, Indians on Social Media Couldn't Help the Sexism

As Pakistan was busy with the elections, Indians saw a perfect opportunity to spew sexism on the microblogging site.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:July 26, 2018, 12:29 PM IST

New Delhi: Pakistan concluded its third consecutive civilian election on July 25. With many media and analysts’ reports calling it the 'dirtiest' election in Pakistan ever, it seems that some of the filth has seeped into social media as well.

The latest elections have witnessed an unprecedented participation from women in Pakistan. Led partly by Pakistan’s Election Commission, which earlier specified that every party contesting elections needed to have 5 per cent of women candidates, a record 171 women contested for the 272 general seats in the National Assembly.

While the number, though low, is momentous considering the country’s history, what followed on social media was not impressive. As Pakistan was busy with the elections, Indians saw a perfect opportunity to spew sexism on the microblogging site.

Soon after some of the women candidates started campaigning, social media in India was abuzz with sexist comparisons with leaders at home.

Some people even called out the sexist tweets:

Personal commentaries and comparisons have long been meted out to women attempting to do a job. The kind of commentary their male counterparts never have to receive.

While there is seemingly no end to misogyny in the country, people indulging in such commentary should note that the Indian women politicians they are seemingly dismissing as unattractive (as opposed to the Pakistani candidates) have both been Chief Ministers in their respective states.

Both Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee have led their own political parties to victory and are seasoned politicians with careers that span over two decades. Mayawati is the former CM of Uttar Pradesh and the chief of Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), while Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee is the present CM of West Bengal.

In 2011, a Washington Post article lambasted then Presidential candidate Sarah Palin for her 'unpresidential' clothes on the cover of a magazine. Such comments never seem to appear for male politicians.

In fact, just recently, alleged images of Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic went viral on social media. Although, it later turned out that the images were not really of Kitarovic, the rude commentary they attracted on the politician’s body, image and even her political calibre was shocking.

While there has been a marked increase in women's' participation in politics globally (albeit marginal in some cases), the world is still a long way from changing its attitudes towards the role of women in politics and diplomacy. Or women, in general.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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