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I am a woman, but I never considered "Despite Being A Woman" remark derogatory or a worst compliment
Had it not been Narendra Modi, the scenario would have been different…I guess. Honestly I was quite stunned when the phrase "Despite being a woman" acquired a centre stage in Media that include all (print, electronic and social) few days back.
During his recent Bangladesh visit PM Narendra Modi with his great oratory skills, while making out a profound speech used the phrase "Despite Being a Woman" to eulogize and extol his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on her resolve to counter terrorism.

"I am happy that Bangladesh Prime Minister, despite being a woman, has declared zero tolerance for terrorism," were the exact words out of which the phrase "despite being a woman" raised the eyebrows worldwide and the PM was literally trolled and chided in social media where he actually has a big support….forget about the other media platforms?

I'm not here to defend PM Narendra Modi because I think as an aspiring world leader he should better focus on his choice of words especially while on an International podium. I mean the above sentence could have been much better had he said: "I am inspired with the audacity of Bangladesh PM on her zero tolerance to Terrorism". 

I mean he should have said something without mentioning the gender. I think the speech writer of our prime minister should take a note of this for future.

However what surprised me "Despite being a woman" is now termed as a stinking phrase that dispenses the underlining sexist, misogynist and male chauvinistic narrow-mindedness in the subconscious minds of our male counter parts or society.

Really!! But then why I never learnt to take offence from it? Believe me, I can't count how many times I have been referred with the above phrase so far in life…and you know what… every time I thought it was a bit of appreciation for me.

Let me mention few instances where I have been mentioned with the above expression. During my school days I used to be a very active child. Along with studies, I used to perform very well in all other activities of the school. In our classroom or in assembly, so many times my teachers and my Principal had said: "Despite being a girl, she is outperforming other students in the class as well as in the school."

OMG! Were they actually insulting me for my gender? I never thought like that because I felt it was their appreciation.

During college days also every time I was mentioned with the above idiom "despite being a woman (girl)" with my every achievement, be it college quiz competition, debate, story writing etc etc….I was quite motivated with the admiration. Should I have taken it as insulting?

Once my HOD (Head of the Department) even said it in little exaggerated way before the external examiner who was supposed to take our practical exams. When the examiner was supposed to ask me viva questions, my HOD said, "Despite being a girl (woman) she can beat anyone in Badminton" while referring my recently won Badminton Championship in college to him. And guess what…I topped the practical marks while no serious question was asked to me.

May be the examiner was more impressed with my badminton achievements like that of my HOD. And you know what, I actually felt flattered with what my HOD said. But never thought, "Was he dispensing something reeking sexism in his words?"

Now, what about those myriad instances where we have been taught that "despite being a woman" Rani Laxmi Bai had given nightmares to British administrations, Madam Curie got Nobel Prize in Physics etc etc? Were they utter misogynist mentions?

And recently Malala Yousufzai, who fought against her assaulter who were opposing girl's education, was mentioned with the above phrase numerous times! Were they all sexist quotes?

What about Shakti Mohan and Rajasmita Kar for whom the same phrase was used when they emerged as winners in the TV reality dance show, Dance India Dance. Were those mentions meant that women cannot dance??

Recently the results for various board examinations were out. Many news papers, online platforms came out with a head line "Girls out shine boys". Doesn't it sound something like "despite being girls, they outshone boys"?

OMG! Were they actually denigrating girls' performances while insulting their gender with classic chauvinism? Then there should have been a national outcry on it…Right! But it was never like that.

After PM Modi delivered that speech in Dhaka where he used the above phrase, the Washington Post came out with a head line "India's Modi Just Delivered World's Worst Complement". 

(I really wonder why despite being the leading nation of the world, why USA never had a woman president so far!)

Worst Complement? I mean if not insult or sexism…then it should be worst complement? Does it mean that during all these years whenever the above phrase was used to compliment women, it was actually a worst complement for them? I think there should be a limit to cynicism.

Yes…I agree "despite being a woman" while being a appreciating phrase for the women's achievements, it also reflects how time and again womenfolk had been made to suffer by the society for being a woman. It just goes like "when people say you look young…they also mention your right age as well."

"Despite being a women" always reflected the stinking side of the society with fetid sexism and discriminations against the fairer sex but it was never been a derogatory remark to any woman…I feel.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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Naim Naqvi
To Sir with Love ! That is how Joseph Goebbles had put his ideas about ‘despite being a woman’ : (A fundamental change is necessary. At the risk of sounding reactionary and outdated, let me say this clearly: The first, best, and most suitable place for the women is in the family, and her most glorious duty is to give children to her people and nation, children who can continue the line of generations and who guarantee the immortality of the nation. The woman is the teacher of the youth, and therefore the builder of the foundation of the future. If the family is the nation’s source of strength, the woman is its core and center. The best place for the woman to serve her people is in her marriage, in the family, in motherhood. This is her highest mission. That does not mean that those women who are employed or who have no children have no role in the motherhood of the German people. They use their strength, their abilities, their sense of responsibility for the nation, in other ways. We are convinced, however, that the first task of a socially reformed nation must be to again give the woman the possibility to fulfill her real task, her mission in the family and as a mother. The national revolutionary government is everything but reactionary. It does not want to stop the pace of our rapidly moving age. It has no intention of lagging behind the times. It wants to be the flag bearer and pathfinder of the future. We know the demands of the modern age. But that does not stop us from seeing that every age has its roots in motherhood, that there is nothing of greater importance than the living mother of a family who gives the state children.)
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