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Bias from her perspective

Why can’t I play the role of the judge? Because I am a girl! Well, this is what my Class 3 NCERT Hindi textbook says.

The play is based on the parable in which a monkey mediates between two cats fighting over a loaf of bread.

The stage directions in the book say: “ 7-8 baras ka ladka bandar ban sakta hai aur 5-6 baras ki ladkiyaan billi ban sakti hain (a boy aged seven or eight can become the monkey, and girls aged five or six can play the parts of the cats).” Even the type of dress is so precisely prescribed for the boy-monkey and the quarrelling cats. And, at the end of the play, how I hate when we two girls, acting the cats, chant: “ Aapas mein jhagdaa kar baithin, buddhi apni khoti… (We fought among ourselves as our minds are weak).” As if it’s only girls who fight for small things! Doesn’t my brother fight with me for that last piece of pizza?

Yes, I am only a 10-year-old girl and might not be knowledgeable enough, but even then some of it is so obviously unfair. Just look at the picture of the three children playing basketball, in the chapter Teamwork in my Class 5 English book. It shows the lone girl’s feet on the ground and the ball beyond her reach, while the two boys are shown high up in the air putting the ball in the basket. I really feel bad because I can beat any boy in my class in racing, football and basketball.

I love playing all sorts of outdoor games and my favourite is cricket. In the illustrations in my textbooks through all my classes, however, I have seen only boys playing cricket; the girls have dolls in their hands. How much I have disliked playing with dolls!

My aunt is a doctor, but I have yet to see a picture of a lady doctor in one of these textbooks. In that picture of a doctor administering vaccine to a child, we see a male doctor, a nurse and a queue of mothers carrying their children. My experience is so different. I love to go along with my Papa to the doctor and he makes me feel so brave that I don’t even fear the injections. In my EVS book, you will see that the pictures in the chapter, Organisations that help us, depict only men in all the important jobs.

Even in the book of my younger brother who is in Class 2, there are pictures of 12 professionals in the chapter, We need them. And none of them is of a woman. And you know what? The only picture of a woman in his book is in the part People who entertain us, and that is one of a dancer.

skandshukla@yahoo.com

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 12:11:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/open-page-bias-from-her-perspective/article8180006.ece

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