When academic books promoted sexist ideas

A monthly magazine, Shivira, aimed at school teachers brought out by Rajasthan’s Education department suggested that women can keep fit by grinding ‘chakki (stone grinder)’, filling water pitchers, sweeping or mopping floors.

Nathmal Didel, the magazine’s chief editor, however, said that the writer might be under the traditional society’s influence. Domestic activities should not have been suggested specifically for women, he added as per a report by Hindustan Times.

An academic writer, Deepti Priya Mehrotra in an article “India: Sexism and Patriarchy in the Textbooks” noted down: “In Rajasthan textbooks, an archaic, feudal or monarchical ethos is frequently evoked, with women relegated to subsidiary positions. They remain responsible for household chores, particularly cooking and serving; even the story of an activist woman, Imarti Bai, begins with the sentence, ‘Imarti Bai was working in her house’ (Rajasthan, Class 3). Even queens are projected primarily as wives and mothers, rather than rulers: their horizons are limited to the (royal) household. Not one text or illustration depicts a male engaged in household work.”

However, Rajasthan is not the only one to suggest such outdated ideas, there are more on the list:

More dowry for ‘ugly’ girls:

According to Class 12 Sociology textbook in Maharashtra, parents have to give more dowry for the ‘ugly’ and ‘disabled’ girls. The textbook was used by students to prepare for the Higher Secondary Certificate board examinations.

The paragraph in the book reads: “If a girl is ugly and handicapped, it becomes very difficult for her to get married. To marry her, the girl’s bridegroom and his family demand more dowry. The helpless parents of such girls are then forced to pay up…”

Definition of 36”-24”-36” by academic book :

CBSE schools used a textbook that listed the ideal body proportions of a woman as 36”-24”-36”. “That is why in Miss World or Miss Universe competitions such type of shape is also taken into consideration,” said the book.

“The bones of hips of females are wider and their knees are slightly apart. Due to this shape, females are not able to run properly,” the book further mentioned. The book was condemned by Union education minister Prakash Javadekar.

Men become unemployed due to women employment:

“Before independence few women were employed. But today women are employed in all sectors that has increased the proportion of unemployment among men,” a textbook by the state education department of Chhattisgarh said in Hindi.

The state’s school education minister Kedar Kashyap said the chapter would be withdrawn from the books, after a female teacher from Jashpur district, in 2015, petitioned the state women’s commission against the textbook, reported The Indian Express.

Donkeys and housewives:

A Hindi textbook compared housewives to donkeys, reported the Times of India.

“A donkey is like a housewife… It has to toil all day, and, like her, may even have to give up food and water. In fact, the donkey is a shade better… for while the housewife may sometimes complain and walk off to her parents’ home, you’ll never catch the donkey being disloyal to his master,” the Class IX textbook (2006) from Rajasthan Education Board said.