The latest video, showing the members of St. Stephen’s College’s ANGA taking a pledge on Valentine’s Day to promote misogyny, has caused a furore on the internet.
A video making the rounds of social media since 14th February, showing the members of St. Stephen’s College’s Alnutt North Gentlemen’s Association (ANGA) taking a pledge, has been grabbing a lot of eyeballs lately. The oath is taken in the Alnutt North men’s residence block alongside the block tutor every year, and has been a part of ANGA’s V-Day tradition for quite some time now. It is a ritual not unlike Hindu College’s Damdami Mayi Puja of the Virgin Tree on every Valentine’s Day. An eyebrow-raising aspect of it, however, lies in the fact that the men, in the name of “Liberty” and building a “paramount egalitarian fellowship”, simultaneously pledge “to philander exclusively with men” and to “promote among them all misogyny”.
A source, not wishing to be named, clarifies that though most of the boys participate in the ritual and head out for an ice-cream afterwards, it is nota compulsory oath. They are even told in advance, ‘supposedly’, that the pledge is all in good fun. It is not meant to be taken seriously under any circumstance, and the issue was never given such publicity or brought under the limelight before. With social media providing instant access these days and the video going viral, however, ANGA has come under direct attack from various student groups, some of which even claim to have been protesting in vain against the ritual for quite some time.
Responding to the immense backlash, ANGA states, “We as members of the ANGA family and the larger Stephanian family have always upheld its values actively, supporting the ideas of gender equality. The ANGA oath has traditionally been a mockery meant to take a dig at the institutionalised inequality that exists in our society. It was a clear expression of sarcasm… we believe that it is not right to exaggerate it to such a large extent… at the end of the day, we all belong to the larger Stephanian family. We will, in the future, continue to fight for issues of gender inequality. We are extremely saddened by this kind of misinterpretation of our intentions… [This was] never intended to start a war against the other gender.”
Caught between a battle of interpretations by DU’s various feminist students and women’s groups, and a round of clarifications by ANGA itself, the ritual stands contested. Whether this, or even the rituals like the one followed by Hindu College, ought to be followed or not, is an entirely separate debate altogether. As of now, the spotlight is on ANGA.