The last time the words ‘women’s empowerment’ were so vilified was when Rahul Gandhi decided to use it as a full-stop at that epic Arnab Goswami interview. A lot has been said about the video called My Choice featuring Deepika Padukone and 98 other women from Mumbai. First it was lauded by people for being empowering and then it was castigated by a bunch of intellectuals and feminists for a variety of things which included:
- Promoting bimbo culture
- Being elitist
- For looking like a rip-off of The Ring
- Being anti-male
- Being anti-marriage
- For being opportunist
- For being not relevant to rural women
- For not having a sense of humour (a hilarious mash-up with Govinda’s Meri Marzi was taken down by YouTube at the behest of Conde Nast, the company that owns Vogue).
So, let me play the devil’s advocate to those who criticised the video. Does Deepika or any of her contemporaries in the video ever say that males don’t or shouldn’t have the same rights? Do they claim that the video was made for rural Indian women? Do they ever say that promiscuity is the only way to women’s empowerment? What’s wrong with challenging the institution of marriage?
Let me remind people, we actually live in a nation where marital rape is actually not considered a crime! Yeah, yeah the laws are skewed towards hurting men, but that does not mean we can’t question them.
This video was obviously made for the urban elite who have access to YouTube, the internet and have time to discuss things. A lot has also been said about the fact that it’s made by Vogue, a magazine well-known for telling women how to be beautiful for more than a century. The truth is that this video was probably dreamed up in a corporate meeting at Vogue with one intention – make something viral, so that they remain relevant in this day and age. And they managed to do that as the video has already racked up over three million views. All said and done, it was an ad for Vogue, sugar-coated with feminism and the video has achieved that, because they are in the news! And it certainly did not warrant the feminism vs anti-feminism debate that it started.
The question of consent
One thing that keeps getting my goat is the fact that people keep attacking Deepika and their ilk for appearing in item numbers, doing roles where women are objectified or laughing at jokes. At the end of the day, we have to remember that all of them are professionals who need to work, and if that means ending up in stereotypical female roles in a male-dominated industry, that’s their choice. It’s this concept of consent that a huge part of the population – male, female or otherwise – has trouble understanding. Or as the women say #MyChoice, not yours, theirs! (ALSO WATCH: Deepika Padukone’s My Choice: Men hit back – male version of video says men don’t support cheating!)
The double standards of modern-day ‘feminism’
It’s sad how concepts lose their relevance over the course of time. Socialism became synonymous with laziness, secularism and liberalism came to mean minority appeasement and feminism became male-bashing. Now let me say before we go further that I am a feminist in the true sense of the word. According to the Wikipedia definition, ‘Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.’ Sadly, the feminist movement seems to have been hijacked by nut jobs who think that it is simply synonymous with misandry (just to prove my point, the word is so rare that MS Word actually think it’s an error, while misogyny is not)!
Objectifying works both ways
I believe in a world where if women are comfortable objectifying men, they shouldn’t scream bloody murder when the opposite happens. Obviously, I would prefer no one got objectified, but if we started doing that, 90% of the media would be out of business. I came across these three articles on a MissMalini.com.
Picture Source: Twitter User @amoli
And also this article titled ‘This leading publication is asking people if they’d sleep with Deepika Padukone or Kim Kardashian – ridiculous’, which seems a tad bit rich to me. To be more accurate, the leading publication in question was India Today and they had actually carried a piece of content from their sister site wonderwoman.intoday.in which actually asked people which celebrity they wanted to have a one-night stand with!
The video was actually created by Fame Fashion as a questionnaire where their anchors asked people on the street which celebrity they wanted to have a one-night stand with. However after criticism, India Today removed the article and published an apology. It read: ‘A fame fashion YouTube video run on Wonderwoman.in was promoted on this page. The language and the idea were against everything that we stand for. We sincerely apologise to all our readers. The content has been removed and with that, the persons responsible. Thank you.’
How is it that it’s okay to publish articles about objectifying males and also to throw a fit when someone else objectifies women? That does seem a tad unfair doesn’t it! Can you imagine the outrage if someone did an article called ‘15 female celebrities we want to handcuff to our beds’?
It is this same enthusiasm which is giving the movement a rather bad name. Like the time when Dr Matt Taylor, part of the team of the Rosetta mission was forced to apologise for wearing a t-shirt with space babes, bondage gear and guns. So instead of celebrating a historic moment where their team landed Philae on a comet after a 10-year, four-billion mile journey, he was actually forced to apologise for his sartorial choices. He said before breaking down in tears: ‘The shirt I wore this week – I made a big mistake and I offended many people. And I’m very sorry about this.’ And that is the sad flipside of feminism, which is completely hurting the fight for equality.
PS – The quotation marks in the headline indicate sarcasm. While one thinks, one wouldn’t have to point that out, we live in times where everyone takes everything too literally.