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What defines being politically correct anymore? In today’s overly sensitive society, it seems that any expression can be misconstrued to be highly charged according to some “inappropriate” agenda. It has become increasingly challenging to find where that fine line between black and white lies amidst all this gray area. Also Read - Watch Tony Kakkar's New Sexist Song - Tera Suit - Starring Jasmin Bhasin And Aly Goni
One thing that can be agreed upon, however, is that when you toe that line, you will get feedback once you cross it—and there will be a backlash. Also Read - Priyanka Chopra Jonas Was Asked to Show Her Panties, And Get a 'B**b Job' Done - Unfinished Reveals All
It’s a sticky situation because it is easy to chalk up offensive, derogatory, racially inappropriate, and sexist comments to the gray area, but very rarely is this where they belong. Don’t misunderstand me—a joke is a joke, but when no one’s laughing and you’ve managed to offend or shock people, you may want to reevaluate your humor. Are you still toeing that line of appropriateness or have you left it somewhere in the dust behind you?
This should be no surprise to India’s top selling author, Chetan Bhagat. Though his accomplishments include a number of novels, awards, and articles, this well-established author receives a great amount of backlash from the public. He has previously chalked up being misunderstood as “…my haters were cutting it up and reposting it out of context with implied meanings. Forgot they lurk.”
While there is a great deal of trolling done online—and much of it is uncalled for—it seems as though in Bhagat’s case it may very well be warranted. Based on a number of questionable remarks, it is quite alarming that Bhagat has undertaken a new project which entails writing from the female perspective.
If an author feels that his humor is appropriate, and he feels comfortable enough with his perspective about writing a novel from the female angle, where does an issue actually lie? How do we know if we’ve become a hyper-sensitive society that likes poking at a few jokes to make a big political spectacle?
The concern about how well Bhagat represents women, in this case, seems justified. For example, the main character of his previous book, “Two States,” had dialogues such as, “Why should any guy want to be ONLY friends with a girl? It’s like agreeing to be near a chocolate cake and never eat it. It’s like sitting in a racing car but not driving it.”
Now, before you dismiss this as another conservative feminist rant, let me just say—I acknowledge the humor in his first statement. It can be a sarcastic comment that is applicable to both genders—you can just as easily say, “Why should any girl want to be ONLY friends with a guy?” when referring to someone’s attractiveness. This may not be the most appropriate statement; however, you can still find this in the aforementioned gray area.
Personally, I feel that this phrase only becomes sexually charged and demeaning when it is followed by the latter statements. Comparing a girl to food and a car leaves the gray area, and crosses into inappropriate, because it is blatantly and irrefutably objectifying her. This changes the casual funny banter into a more serious concern.
Why are girls seen as objects to be used for sex, eating, driving or anything else for that matter? Why can they not also be good friends to hang out with, have a conversation with, and just be human with? Why must they be an object for you to enjoy?
If this was an isolated joke, it wouldn’t be a cause for concern for Bhagat’s new novel. He has previously used statements such as, “she is too intelligent to be a good daughter-in-law” in his previous novel. This further validates why certain harmless remarks are not just jokes and should not be taken lightly. This statement is a clear example of why his humor crosses the line of even the darkest shades of gray—this is black and white. This type of statement is completely inappropriate.
This statement also represents a larger, multifaceted issue. An intelligent capable woman can, in every regard, also be a good daughter-in-law. What are the characteristics of a good daughter-in-law that he is hinting at here? And, more importantly, why is intelligence not one of them?
In a society that is attempting to alter this type of mindset, statements such as these are dangerous because they feed back into the sexist mentality that women who are intelligent and hard-working with careers do not have family values. These two things should not be so isolated on a spectrum that reinforces inequality.
The other aspect of this issue is that it wrongly stereotypes mother-in-laws as women who do not want other women to thrive and grow. It incorrectly penalizes the older generation for views, and may not even accurately reflect them. Which mother would want her son to be the sole supporter of a family, especially in today’s economy? Which mother wouldn’t want her successful child, be it a son or daughter, to have an equally successful, driven partner?
Bhagat really hits the nail on the head in his novel, “Half Girlfriend,” where his lead character combats rejection for sexual advances with the statement, “deti hai toh de varna kat le.”
Depicting this sentiment in his novel, while indefinitely addressing real world issues, highlights the lack of respect and overentitlement many Indian men suffer from. These misogynistic sentiments validate the concerns that men express outside the fictional world of this novel. These are the very ideals that many in society actively work to deinstitutionalize.
Hate to break it to you, but your girlfriend’s purpose isn’t to have sex with you—it’s her choice to do so. Echoing a previous concern, women are not objects; and that is where Bhagat’s writing continuously blurs the line. Accepting these types of remarks as humorous banter enables society to become a toxic environment in the long run for women.
A valid point can be made for humor, in that Bhagat’s statements shouldn’t be taken too seriously; however, that is only when the fine line between human and dangerous commentary is maintained. Time and time again, Bhagat crosses that boundary. This is demonstrated by the fact that he tweeted the word “rape” to describe a downward economic spiral, saying that the Indian currency had been “raped.”
He viewed his post as “harmless”—and then tweeted to justify his original post:
Desensitizing the word “rape,” in any context, is inappropriate and dangerous for everyone. It diminishes the gravity of the word and disrespects women who have been victims of such atrocities. Using the word “rape” to depict a degree of unpleasantness for something such as economic downfall is not equivalent, by any mean,s to someone who has been raped and has been traumatically impacted physically, mentally and emotionally. Most importantly, this creates societal acceptance of the word in common vernacular, which triggers additional associations of acceptance. Simply put, this is absolutely unacceptable.
Though this type of commentary may have been made for entertaining purposes, it is evident that Bhagat is so far-gone that he is routinely inappropriate. Gender-biased thinking leads to harmful, violent and destructive behavior in society. Inequality should not be endorsed—and definitely not encouraged. It is clear that Bhagat does not understand or discuss women in an appropriate manner, even through humor. Therefore, an entire novel from his version of the “female perspective” is cause for concern—and one that people should remain anxious about, for good reason.