Azam Khan’s ‘Dear Sister’ Clarification Is Not an Apology

Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan couldn’t have come up with a worse response. 

3 min read
Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan couldn’t have blurted out a worse ‘apology’. 

Out of the frying pan into the fire. Sizzle. Hiss. Crackle. Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan couldn’t have blurted out a worse retort. “You are like my sister,” he clarified, right after a sexist comment directed at BJP MP Rama Devi.

Sure, absolved. A non-apology in the garb of atonement? That’s familiar. Trying to right a wrong with another wrong shall be our collective undoing, I am convinced.

Clearly, we need to hand out UV lights to Mr Khan to help him detect the existence of women who aren’t necessarily his sisters, but deserve the same gallantry he dispenses to his ‘pyaari behenien’.

Mr Khan’s remarks – now expunged – expressed quite an outlandish desire, while addressing Deputy Speaker Rama Devi, who was officiating all proceedings in the Lok Sabha.

Rama Devi (left) and Azam Khan (right). 
Rama Devi (left) and Azam Khan (right). 
(Photo Courtesy: ANI/Altered by The Quint)

Now, apart from Khan’s zero savoir faire, there is more to worry about. How come Rama Devi is not really somebody till she is somebody’s sister? She was at work, just like Mr Khan was, doing her job, just like he... wasn’t, and yet his ‘respect’ was rationed out only when he could pigeonhole her in the ‘pyaari behen’ compartment. How parliamentary.

The slam-bang clatter of survival is so neatly tied to our impulses that at the heart of all things human lies our ability to act or not act on those impulses. Of course, these impulses look like the human equivalent of a massive dump at times, especially when thousands of years of regressive conditioning is at play.

These are the times you specifically ask yourself to NOT act on them.

But sadly, Mr Khan’s ship has sailed. He has made it clear that a woman – who ain’t his mother or his sister – is one he is allowed to take a lot of liberties with. Only when she is deftly deprived of a sexual character is she viewed in a different light, not because she is her own person – mind, body, and soul – but because she is now playing the sacred role of the virgin figure who must not be tainted. And when she does have sexual agency, she is the easy woman, ‘asking for it’.

Remember this iconic line, “Hey sexy lady, who is not my sister or mother, here is your agency that was always yours to keep?”

You don’t.

Because we haven’t said it enough number of times for it become an iconic line. And we are back to the Madonna-Whore complex!

Either the lady in question is pure and must be revered or she is tainted and is someone you can sleep with.

In between, there is a Bermuda Triangle of sorts that clearly needs a fair amount of demystification for the likes of Mr Khan. Sadly, he is just the symbol of a wider evil. Our compartments are way too air-tight and non-negotiable.

Remember Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter? She has a child out of wedlock and is given hell for it. The ‘virginal sister’ metamorphoses into an ‘adulteress’ and all hell breaks loose – because the grand order of things is at stake.

Next time you hear someone imply that they can sleep with some women but fall in love with others – not both, mind you – please hand them some UV lights and talk about the Bermuda Triangle.

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