Saturday, 1 August 2015

Will The Real Feminists Please Stand Up?


With this post, I'm treacherously trespassing hostile territory, and fully cognizant of it. I may sacrifice a lifetime of being loved (and may just lose my smile) yet I choose to willingly defy what is fashionable within the modern society, for what is life without dicey risks and public defamation?

This is the world we've painted; the vision we've skewed. A man speaking up against feminism is surely the antagonist. Who the hell is he, an entitled man trying to speak his mind? What does he know what it's like to be a woman?

Nothing he could say can justify the patriarchal history that has led to this movement. The fact that he has the audacity to ostensibly affront would mean he's just another male chauvinist pig, just another born and bred in the 'all men are dogs!' league.

But I'm going to try, and take this not as an attack on any of you, but simply a disquisitive yet confused mind's quest for answers. With an outpour of raging feminism all around me, all I want to know really, is what you want.

Let's get a few things straight - I don't abhor women, on the contrary, I deeply love them (shocker). I believe the world is a much better place with them in it, and in no way support the idea of patriarchy. This world is as much ours as, in the honourable words of Nas, it's yours.

If you're clamoring for equal rights for women, I'm with you. For education, for jobs, for wages, for the freedom and liberty, for independence and individuality, I'm with you. To discriminate in any of these spheres on the basis of gender and not ability is unfair to me, and worth fighting for. All I'm highlighting in this piece, are the different definitions of feminism I've come across, and I'm just looking for the right one.

Having said that, I still fully expect to be hit with 'hard-hitting facts' on why we need feminism, and I humbly implore you to read deep and see that I don't question the need.

So anyway, let's start with the easiest and tune up the band as we go along. There are few feminists who fight for independence on any medium they see, yet expect men to give up seats for them, open doors and drown themselves in chivalry. You know, coast along with the idea that the man should ask a woman on a date, pay for the dinner, propose (or not be considered a 'real man') and treat his woman like a princess.

I say balls to that. 

These actions should be viewed as products of love and respect, rather than convention. In that vein, why is it such a social anomaly to expect a woman to give up a seat, open doors and treat the guy like a prince? The women who try to woo men are labeled and shamed by the same society that lauds the role reversal. Aren't we promoting this divide, placing women on a pedestal, asking men to channel their masculinity to treat them like a prize?

This begs the question whether this pseudo-feminist wants to be treated like a human, or treated like a woman?
Feminism Equality

It has always been so, for women are the undeniably the fairer of the sexes. Why are most Bollywood movies about heroes fighting thugs, Amrish Puri, beasts, wars or dads (or Amrish Puri as a dad) to reach their lady loves? Would Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge have worked if Kajol was on the train and Shah Rukh was pleading with his daddy to let him go? Would Titanic have worked if Kate Winslet had frozen to death while Di Caprio floated off?

Aren’t we subconsciously planting the aforementioned concept through everyday entertainment outlets?

Then there are those, whose entire idea of feminism is jobs, opportunities and benefits solely for women. Aren't we speeding completely to the opposite end of this gender extremist spectrum with this argument? Sure there's a balance that needs to be obtained after years of male domination, but I do feel this is the wrong approach, because didn't beliefs that specifically favoured men create this logjam in the first place? Surely the best way to rectify a mistake isn't to commit the same mistake again but with the roles of the oppressor and oppressed swapped around?

So yeah, where exactly are you going with this?

That would make feminism, literally and beyond, a pro-women movement which baffles the living daylights out of me when I see most feminists claim it a movement for equality for both men and women? Isn't it a movement for equality for just women? Consequently making it a movement for women? Which rather ironically, doesn't make it a movement for equality at all?

Are these issues worth fighting for women? Absolutely. Does that make this a movement for equality among men and women? No.

I don't see the merit in the words that this movement represents men when not many prevalent male discriminatory social, political and pressingly, judicial issues have been raised in front of me. It's very much possible they might have and I never came across it, but then this is a piece laded with my personal opinion, and my personal opinion is centred around the fact that as an educated, connected individual with access to multiple modes of information I'm hard pressed to find feminist advocates protesting male discrimination.

That's just, you know, my personal opinion.

But then, what do I know, entitled male that clearly cannot feel what you feel. I am just, after all, a lonely wanderer looking for answers.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Everything Right, Wrong & Bhai About The Salman Khan Hit-And-Run Controversy

At what point do we really tread past the grounds of morality?

For sabki aan, sabki shaan, sabka bhaijaan to be sentenced to a jail term is fair. No matter how much Bhai love is harboured by any of us, we would be the first to lob 'corruption' as India's biggest vice at any given opportunity, so it is fair that we accept the dish of justice when finally served, however bland and insipid, for justice skewed to favour the ones we like is probably what led to this corrupt quagmire in the first place.

Salman Khan, since proved guilty, deserves a penalty and deserves to live out the consequences of his actions. This is that post, that considers Farah Khan Ali's and Abhijeet's comments incredibly idiotic, so cue in the disappointment if you were expecting a disillusioned Bhai love fest.

There is no fulcrum of equivalence when it comes to taking a life - had Salman robbed a man (while realistically drunk) and then doled millions of funds in charity to that same person, it can be forgiven. We would be happily ensconced within the realms of morality - where balance is attainable and no sin is unforgivable.

The Wrong isn't the verdict, but rather the execution. This drama has been presented as a spoilt brat's delayed encounter with punishment, which I find hazy. This spoilt Bhai gave birth to and funded the Being Human Foundation, Salman Khan Being Human Productions, guided the Little Hearts campaign, freed indebted jail inmates, adopted villages, given employment to many via his Facebook page and quenched the thirsts in a drought before the government.

Some major criticism, as expected for any good deed in India, is centred around the fact that Salman might have done all these charities to clean his name, put on a facade of philanthropy to cleanse the guilt.

Why the hell does that matter?

To roughly quote Salman from the India Today Conclave in 2014 - "We could do these good things for a variety of reasons - be it a genuine desire to do good, a wish to mask guilt or from fear of something or just for show. I don't know why I do this, maybe for a bit of show, sometimes I genuinely want to do it and sometimes to change my image but for whatever reasons I'm doing it, I'm doing good work at the end."

Indian Bollywood Actor Salman Khan Being Human

The truth here is that Salman has saved millions of lives in India and positively influenced even more, be it for whatever reason. However, a million lives saved and one killed is beyond the balance of justice. That one death doesn't lose it's significance in the shadow of this mass of charitable work, as many raged critics have been claiming, but then we shouldn't hide the significance of all those scores of lives saved either.

You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Salman Khan however, figuratively died a villain in 2002 and is doing everything he can in his living memory from thereafter to be a hero.

He has also become the scapegoat of a judicial system out to make an emphatic statement that celebrities can't mess with the law - all well and good, but a claim that is rendered a shadow of a thought when the brutal reality of the thousands of hit-and-run cases not involving celebrities are not dealt with fairly on a daily basis. Are those lives not as significant?

It's hazy, it's complicated and it confuses me. How people who've not touched a sliver of the charitable work Salman Khan has done call him a 'spoilt brat' and paint the picture of an uncaring elite superstar being brought down to ground.

How much emphasis we give to this story, only because it concerns a superstar popular beyond belief and loved by millions, pitted against the poverty that contrasts his luxurious lifestyle to create the ultimate tale of downfall, all to make a statement that is, at the end of the day, gone unheeded at the lower levels and justice that still eludes the non-elite.

At what point do we really tread past the grounds of morality?

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

Everything Wrong & Right About The AIB Roast Controversy

All India Bakchod Roast of Ranveer Singh & Arjun Kapoor AIB

If ten years down the line someone would ask me how I felt as an Indian youth and how it affected the way I think, feel, live and perceive, I honestly think ‘it’s complicated’ would be my unfortunate response.

We belong to a developing nation stuck for eternity in development, teeming with unbound, untapped potential yet bogged down by it’s own fallacies - we are, as I like to muse, a superhero that doesn’t want to save the world. 

The growth of Internet and just a wider awakening in general has exposed today’s educated youth to the disparities in our lifestyles as compared to the big bad West. Amazingly hypocritical is our stand that we shouldn’t model ourselves over the western culture, yet we unabashedly love to emulate the negatives and condemn the positives. Emulate when we feel it’s time to develop and condemn when we jingoistically feel we should adhere to well-defined norms. 

As a result, we’re getting bloody nowhere. 

Movies like ‘PK’ or ‘Oh My God!’ are promulgated with tags of ‘this is what India needs’ or ‘big step for Indian cinema’ instead of ‘good movie’ or ‘nice acting’. We are suspended in limbo in wanting to be as free, bold and audacious as the rest of the world, yet being pulled back by preset notions of conventional behaviour.

It’s frustrating, gut-wrenchingly, brutally frustrating to watch this unfold. For us to take a tiny step forward, and then be pushed back another five. Why are we so afraid to be bold, and why are we so hell bent on forcing personal opinions on everyone else?

I’m writing this post today as a rant that will mostly be forgotten by the time the next ‘Mauka Mauka’ video for the Cricket World Cup comes out, and to all this is just an outpouring of despondency. I’m sharing an opinion that you don’t have to agree with, and the last thing I want is to force you to live a life based on my opinion. (not like anyone will)

The first mistake All India Bakchod made was bask on their confidence that they’re transgressing horizons in Indian culture. Who are they to think that they could call a few actors, indulge in a bit of self-deprecating humour, raise some money for charity and not piss off the world? Who on Earth gave them the right to think people will have to live with this, because they’re being bold and India has to accept this?

No way in hell would we accept this, for a few homosexual jokes on Karan Johar (which never even existed for the past decade), a few derogatory jokes on film stars that actually sent the message that they’re not the gods you treat them as, as they too have their flaws, a minor jab on Ashish Shakya’s skin colour (skin colour jokes are a downright no-no between most friends after all) are all definitely more apocalyptic than our perpetual poverty, economy, illiteracy and general disregard for a person’s individuality. (see Section 377) 

Maybe they should’ve gone through it gradually by loading the Roast with some knock-knock jokes followed by a few subtle jabs on Ranveer Singh’s frivolous sex life (like any other Filmfare award script) because that’s the only kind of comedy we should hear. This is what they did Wrong. They probably underestimated the backlash, and maybe the condescending ‘you know, like a roast’ should have been ‘please give us a chance to try this in our country’. 

They should beg and plead, because you can’t have freedom of expression until it’s approved by everyone.

The one thing that really pisses me off, to no end, is the notion that these groups who condemn these kind of shows do it because it’s ‘against our culture’ or ‘paints the wrong image for children’. 

Sir, when I was one of the children, I grew up a spectator in a country where rapes happen so often no one within the authority cared anymore, money was being lavishly laundered in projecting splendour while the same children scrapped to be literate, politicians threw insults and chappals at each other (and also watched pornography during parliamentary sessions), people pissed in public wherever they went and mainstream movies featured heroes that disrespected women because it was cool. Are you sure that’s not against the culture as well, because I sure did grow up painted with the wrong picture.

Kids are not stupid, and definitely smart enough to know what’s for them or not. I preferred watching my kid-friendly Cartoon Network over Star News’ Sansani or a Kuch Kuch Hota Hai over a Murder or Jism because there’s a reason entertainment is catered to a specific age group. It’s because the rest won’t care. 

Also, where’s the bloody consistency? If someone made a joke on Deepika Padukone’s fairness or Rohan Joshi’s anorexia, I want everyone to flip out the same way. Morgan Freeman once said that the best way to end racism is to stop talking about it, and big bad M-dog spits some real truth when he wants to.

Aamir Khan can make Delhi Belly and ask people who get offended to not watch, yet condemn a show with a similar style of entertainment (without even watching it). Criticism is fine as long as it’s fair - that the show was cheap, crass and offensive is true. That some people should ardently dislike it is fair. That none of us should see it because apparently it would definitely affect us is dictatorship.

It’s frightening how sensitive we are to trivial issues that won’t end up benefitting anyone, how stubbornly hell-bent we are on consorting everyone to what we perceive is the ideal lifestyle and how bluntly impassive we are to issues that actually drag our nation down. 

But hey, saare jahaan se accha Hindustan hamara, and all of that.

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If you liked what you read then do help me by sharing this on social media platforms of your choosing (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, G+, Reddit I ain't picky). We're all artists somewhere, in some field, and this is just my form of art that would truly find expression if more people get the inclination to read it.

You can like this blog's Facebook page here, follow the Twitter feed here or follow me personally on Twitter here.

Similar articles:

Everything Right, Wrong & Bhai About The Salman Khan Hit & Run Controversy: Read More

TVF's Arunabh Kumar, International Women's Day, Buzzfeed And The Growing Business Of Feminism: Read More

India At Rio Olympics 2016: No Country For Non-Cricketers: Read More