Gender is but a biological accident
Why is it so important for society to constrict people in brackets of a man and a woman, asks Harish Iyer
Asian Games gold medallist Pinki Pramanik was released on bail after spending 25 days in jail on charges of rape
Pinki Pramanik... Is it she?
It's time that we look at genders beyond the paradigms of “Male” and “Female”. There are genders beyond those defined by anatomy. And the fact is that no one has the right to define my gender but me. Not the country, not any medical council.
Pinki Pramanik’s case has been stuck in the web of controversy. She is accused of “rape” by her partner. Her partner is a woman who insists that Pinki is a man. The same Pinki who has won India a gold medal in the women’s relay in 2006 Asian games held at Doha.
If she is a “he” then how did it go unquestioned for so long? I am sure they have screening tests in international competitions like the Asian games and the Commonwealth Games. This raises an important question. Why do we need to put people in brackets of “Man” and “Woman”. There are genders beyond the genders that we know.
Some moons back Santhi Saunderajan, the “daughter” of a kiln worker rose to the heights of popularity after she won the silver medal at the 800m run at the 2006 Asian Games. She was ripped off her medal after she underwent a sex test. The test result read: "does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman". Later the then Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi offered her a cash prize of 15 lakh rupees and a television set. When Karunanidhi was quizzed about the controversy that surrounded Santhi, he simply replied “this is the same body that won India her medal.” That was the wisdom of the CM who stood up for Santhi. And what a statement it was. Reflect on it; how did her gender matter? Santhi was diagnosed as someone with the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome— a condition that causes hormonal changes in the body and makes it more masculine.
Gender is a social construct. And gender is not just black white and grey. Gender is but a biological accident.
In Pinki’s case, most of us feel disgusted to even fathom the fact that a woman could be raped by a woman. It has to be a man, always. A woman is a devi, a man is the devil. Well, that’s not the truth always.
Investigate the rape allegations against Pinki thoroughly. I was in a show with NDTV, about child sexual abuse and someone just sent me an email saying, “such men should be hanged”. I replied: “don’t give the abuser a gender. It could be a woman or any other gender too”. The whole definition of rape and sexual assault has to change to include all genders as both the accused and the abused. Here probably the anti Child Sexual Abuse Bill leads the way by being gender neutral. Is that not possible? Can’t lesbians rape? Can’t women rape? Does one need to be a man to rape? Is rape always forced penetrative sex?
I am all for a thorough investigation, let Pinki go through a trial. Let Pinki be punished if she is found guilty. But I cant help but ask some obvious questions. Were there no tests done when she went for international sports events? Did she suddenly become a man? She probably has a magic wand, if she could swing from being a woman to a man so easily. If you ask me, this looks like a classic case of domestic drama between two women lovers going public.
Tell me who lodged someone who has a vagina and identifies as a woman in a male prison? Who squeezed her breasts to determine her gender? Who shot the MMS that went viral? Is this the course of law in the rape investigations against Pinki Pramanik?
Harish Iyer is an equal rights activist.