Actor-politician Urmila Matondkar says women are often easily targeted in the world of politics, but it is important for them to stay focused.
During a virtual session of "We The Women" with journalist Barkha Dutt on Friday night, the Shiv Sena leader said politics has become a "poisonous" field for everybody, including women, but she was aware of it when she decided to join the field.
"I knew it will be tough but so was the film career. Here, it has become a poisonous field, it has become horribly vicious for anybody that nothing should surprise you. Women do become easy targets," Matondkar said.
She asserted that sexism exists in politics but she has learnt to stay focused on the good work that she intends to do for the people.
"One has to look at it from all dimensions, I do understand where they (detractors) were coming from. We had glamour-oriented career along with a lot of substantial roles.
"Even then (being in film industry) I didn't agree that if you do certain kind of roles then only you are an actor or glamour queen. All these tags beyond a point shouldn't mean anything so I never let it affect me then and even now," she said.
Matondkar said that it was her decision to connect with the people through politics and she never lets negative remarks affect her.
"People will keep talking but you need to keep the focus, do your best and expect the best," she added.
The actor started her political career with Congress and contested North Mumbai constituency in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, lost to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gopal Shetty.
After quitting the party in September 2019, Matondkar joined Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena earlier this month.
Joining her for the session were Khushbu Sundar, a popular Tamil actor, who recently joined the BJP, and Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan, who previously worked in Bengali cinema.
Sundar believes the patriarchal attitude is more in political field than in cinema.
"It is difficult for women actors to come into this field. The first reaction of people is you are an actor, you are supposed to dance around the trees and not supposed to speak or show you are intelligent. And that we men are way ahead and we will decide what has to be done.
"The reason why I have moved from the previous two parties is because they feel intimidated by a woman who is intelligent and has a mind of her own, is confident and can call the shots," she added.
Jahan said she too was judged when she entered politics, especially since she came from the field of acting. "When men are oppressed they call it tragedy, while women call it tradition. Why don't we look at the brighter side? Times are changing. When I stepped in politics one and a half years back, it wasn't bed of roses for me either.
"People judged me because I came from acting field. They will judge me if I allow them to, so it is upon oneself to change. It is time to bring about change, we are trying to snap patriarchy on face," she added.
Matondkar and Sundar also opened up about being subjected to trolling on social media.
Sundar said she has become thick skinned but it does hurt when her family is targeted on internet.
Matondkar added that she was horrified with the attack on her family and when her husband, who is a Kashmiri Muslim, was called a "terrorist and a Pakistani".
"I don't have any thick skin but my skin is too beautiful to be bothered. I think sensitivity is the strongest point of view of a woman and to be able to have that compassion, empathy is what makes me a woman.
"I'm in this field which is horrible, venomous and I will make sure I will change this," she said.