There were some things in that editorial -- its faux-sympathy for women's issues, its dismissive, mocking tone at the end, and other things (see below) -- which made me sense an anti-women bias in it. Here's my attempt to explain what those things are.
* * *
First, here's Mint's "critique" of the Pink Chaddi campaign:
1. The pink-bloomer war against the moral police managed a victory of sorts, but failed to raise the issue that gender injustice in India goes beyond pub-going and Valentine’s Day. [This is followed by several paragraphs with statistics about women's status in Indian society, without referring once to the Pink Chaddi campaign].
2. [The atrocious last paragraph which doesn't deserve to be elevated to the status of a "critique"; it betrays a certain callous attitude towards crimes against women.]
3. [At the end of the article, the editorial poses this question, and seeks readers' response] Did the women-in-pubs controversy grab headlines at the cost of more pressing gender issues?
Well, here's my case -- or, six different versions of my case:
The business case: By any yardstick, getting 50,000+ people to support a movement in less than 10 days is an amazing feat. That the Pink Chaddi campaign used its ideas, people, technology and resources so well to beat back -- using chaddis as their non-violent weapon -- a bunch of violent street thugs is a huge achievement. A clear victory for peaceful protest. For innovative thinking. For the mobilizing ability of those who put this campaign together. For women. And also for men who are not Muthalik, SRS goons or their supporters.
Mint cannot even bring itself to recognize this achievement. It calls it, grudgingly, "a victory of sorts." Why?
The business newspaper case: Business newspapers thrive on dissecting a success story, extracting the key takeaways (lessons in management!), and peddling them to unsuspecting
Mint, on the other hand, does something strange with the success of the Pink Chaddi campaign: it frames it as a failure! This alleged failure is interesting: it's not a failure to achieve the stated goals, but a failure to do other things -- specifically, a failure "to raise the issue that gender injustice in India goes beyond pub-going and Valentine’s Day." It doesn't matter to Mint that this was a 10-day old campaign aimed at solving a short term problem.
Why does Mint, a business newspaper, dive into this success story looking for failure?
The Updike rule case: John Updike's first rule for reviewing a book is this: "Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt." [In the academic world of peer review, this rule is restated as follows: "don't write the paper for the authors."]
Mint fails the Updike test when it complains that the 10-day long Pink Chaddi campaign failed to raise the centuries-old issue of gender injustice. Why should such a huge burden be placed on a group that's fighting against a gang that threatened women with imminent violence?
[BTW, this is a critique of the internal logic of the Mint editorial. In other words, its conclusion is invalid even if its premise is valid. But I don't think the premise -- that the Pink Chaddi campaign and the issues of gender justice are two separate things -- is valid. See below.]
The freedom case: The Pink Chaddi movement is about women's freedom to pursue their interests and hobbies -- including pub-going.
Mint misrepresents the campaign by painting it as exclusively about pub-going; in fact, Mint accuses the campaign of not going "beyond pub-going and Valentine’s Day."
The management case: It doesn't take much to see the relationship between achieving gender justice and the Pink Chaddi campaign. If the former is the mission, the latter is a tactic.
Mint talks about them as if they are distinct; it asks its readers, "Did the women-in-pubs controversy grab headlines at the cost of more pressing gender issues?"
Why does Mint try to create the impression ("at the cost of" is the key phrase here) that the two things are mutually exclusive?
[Consider the Tylenol recall. When the executives took various actions to deal with the crisis, would a Mint editorial scream at them? "But all your efforts are taking the attention away from the company's long-term mission!"].
The jumping-to-conclusion case: Many women who enthusiastically supported this campaign have been long time activists fighting for gender justice -- some of them blog here. They are in this for the long haul; and they can be expected to use the success of the Pink Chaddi campaign for mobilizing new supporters for their cause.
Mint insinuates that the women's groups will declare victory and go home -- or, rather, go back to the pub and get drunk, because it thinks that this campaign is just about pub-going.
Why does Mint try so hard to portray the campaign as a frivolous effort by non-serious people whose sole interest is in getting drunk in pubs?
* * *
I have to wonder how much of what Mint has written is because the Pink Chaddi campaign was conceived, designed, implemented and marketed by women.
Just consider the novelty of it all, the savvy use of social networks, and the very viral marketing. Throw in the right kind of mid-course corrections -- for example, the campaign changed the blog's header image because its organizer had "no interest in annoying people or upsetting people's religious beliefs." These are all examples of great organization and management.
But the Mint editorialists are grudging in their praise -- "a victory of sorts". Worse, they locate the source of the campaign's successful "spill into the real world" elsewhere -- "the speed of the internet" -- rather than in the tech-savviness and organizational abilities of the campaign's leaders.
Instead, the Mint folks are overly keen to frame the campaigners as one-shot wonders and frivolous pub-goers. They are unwilling to wait to see how the movement proceeded after the Valentine's Day, because they seem to have concluded that the campaigners are a bunch of non-serious hobbyists who don't care about the 'serious' issues of gender equity, and that their only interest is in pub-going! They place the short-term, highly focused campaign within a frame of failure using the "failure to work towards gender justice" trope. [And don't even get me started on that last paragraph ...].
* * *
Does the editorial, then, represent?
A one-off mis-speak at Mint?
Anti-women bias at the business broadsheet?
Misogyny at Mint?