It was a peaceful Sunday and my siesta was rudely interrupted by a phone call. An old friend, who went way back to school, had lost his father. He was with me right from school to college and the news was a little emotional. I rushed off to his home, which was a agraharam right in front of the temple. Crowds were gathered already. The space was already small and everyone was nearly standing on the toes of the other. Priests with bare torsos and the traditional strings moved around nonchalantly. Soon the mantras started and we moved outside where there was a little fresh air.
I joined my old college mates. We started chatting about the life we ended up living and soon the conversation veered off to the latest trend topic- the young actress who was molested recently in her own vehicle by her former driver. The incident had happened two days ago. Although the news did not catch much traction initially, it picked up steam soon with the media and stars expressing their ‘huge shock’. And here we were, in the middle of a cremation, talking about the molestation. There were wild guesses and suggestions of the people behind the incident. People made suggestions about the contents of the video and how soon it is going to be released. Probably the actress would have never experienced such a huge hype even over any of her movies. I went back home, lost in thought over how a melodramatic scene shifted to much racy topic.
The discussion was heard all the way to tea-stalls, bookshops and beer parlours. Most of the male population seemed to be eagerly waiting for the ‘video clip’. The next day at the office, the friendly sweeper lady remarked innocently about the film star on whom shadows of doubt had fallen, ‘He is already married twice. Why did he have to do this’.
The common man who didn’t enjoy the privilege of any personal protection or support from the film stars & who had to risk daily travelling late hours among unknown people started making their own inferences.
To have a driver is a luxury in itself. To appoint a person with criminal credentials is a luxury as well as arrogance. The actress who represent the arrogant girl of new generation crossed her line in roaming around with a criminal. Bhavana who came into movie as the innocent sister for the big star, who get ditched for lack of good looks suddenly transformed herself into the torch bearer of new generation. The cool image although had its share of success, didn’t go down well with our Sanskari clan. Well it’s still okay for guys to drink and smoke, but it’s totally forbidden for women. They have greater responsibilities like child bearing and child rearing.
Now this, at the outset, sounds as an issue which we can sit back and make judgements upon. But looking at it again don’t our women face the same issues in a different intensity everyday. To some extent, yes a woman can collectively counter the offense by a unknown attacker at a public space. But can the same narrative be used in a workplace, where her promotions, relations and outfits are out to constant scrutiny and judgement.
Sexual shaming is a powerful tool. It is actually easy to counter every allegation except the ones involving sexuality. It is not confined to women alone and many institutions have used the weapon to confront unruly elements. Now you may recall during every student agitation the first allegation to come out would be the sexual anarchy. The public digests it happily and without reasoning.
Sexual depravation is another factor. The effects of liberalization has moved from economy to social life. If you look at the recent works in mainstream movies, which are used as a benchmark for culture, the common theme loudly proclaimed is if you have enough money, you can enjoy women, drinks and drugs sans any moral limitation. And if you can’t afford a woman, you have every right to stalk her and assault her. The spurt in recent killings of women, who refused the advances of men, is a grim pointer.
I am winding this up here for now…more to follow