It all started when I came across this appallingly disparaging meme doing the rounds on Facebook post Sindhu’s historic feat at Rio:

(English Translation: In India, girls have to do everything – right from buying vegetables to winning medals).

A thought – so demeaning in its essence- so austere in its application. A thought – which, so unwittingly endorses the typical condescension practiced by patriarchy. A thought- which so callously mortifies everything that feminism (if I may say that) chooses to sanction. My WhatsApp contacts (both males and females) extolled this blatant counter-relegation as well.

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When Sindhu took down the toughest opponent in the first set, when she staged a mini come-back of sorts in the second set, we were busy celebrating her gender- not her feat. She is Marin. She is world number 1. Sindhu faltered with her smashes. Marin faltered with her temperament. We weren’t ready to dissect the match. We were not even celebrating Sindhu but her sex—her ilk, which was okay until social media posts like this surfaced.

PVs

Image via Flickr

Sakshi Malik, on the other hand, had defeated Orkhon Purevdorj of Mongolia (round 2) en route to her Olympic glory. Orkhon is the same girl who had beaten three-time Olympic champion Kaori Icho in the finals of Yarygin just a few months back. Social media once again celebrated the girl who hails from a state (Haryana), which has consistently received flak for its disconcerting sex ratio. Sakshi got us the first medal at Rio. Understandably, we were busy celebrating history. The enormity of this girl’s feat, however, would be of “perpetual inconsequence”. Sad.

Sak

Image via Flickr

Imagine this happening to cricketers.

A section of social media’s latest bid to anoint Sindhu as the brand ambassador of Telengana, the youngest Indian state could have been branded pertinent if a section of the campaigners hadn’t harped on the unceremonious comparison with its present ambassador Sania Mirza. Sindhu is the “true daughter of the soil”, while, Sania doesn’t really seem to have the right “surname” to do what she has been assigned to do.
“Plz tell me, which name reflects Telugu nativity ‘Venkata Sindhu’ or ‘Sania’, ‘Pusarla’ or ‘Mirza’, was a Telegu Industry minister’s cry. The cunning (highly agendized) comparison has once again failed our present and past champions. Sania didn’t deserve this. So didn’t Sindhu.

What did the girls do to deserve this? They surely deserved better – more meaningful comparisons. The success stories scripted by them definitely deserved a way more constructive critique. Sadly enough, social media didn’t let that happen.

What haven’t Abhinav Bindra, Yogeshwar Dutt, Leander Peas, Sushil Kumar, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and every other Olympic medalist done for us to expect that a substantive sporting legacy of our nation isn’t tarnished by such unabashed display of gender bias?

Author Bio: Hey I’m Sunayani Mukherjee, a writer and Federer fan. Flânerie, I believe, is a semi-latent forte.

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