No, Ranveer-Deepika, showing any spouse, male or female, hitting the other is not funny. In no case

Women are human, just like men. Personality traits like kindness are not attached to one's gender. Neither are abusive tendencies such as domestic violence.

 |  4-minute read |   15-06-2019
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Filmstar Ranveer Singh recently posted a picture of Deepika Padukone, his wife, hitting him with a cricket bat, captioning it ‘Story of my Life Real & Reel!’. The post was in connection with the couple’s upcoming film about cricketing legend Kapil Dev. People loved the post, commenting vociferously about how cute the two are as a couple and how adorable the snap was.

Now, imagine if the roles were reversed — Ranveer Singh hitting Deepika Padukone with a bat and her commenting that it was real and reel life, implying that she was in a physically abusive relationship.

I’m fairly certain many people would have taken up the outraged cry of domestic abuse and called out the post for being utterly unfunny and totally inappropriate.

So, why is it that this post met with laughter, approval — even adoration?

Domestic violence is a very serious offence.

It also cuts across the board.

A recent study in Haryana found that 51.5% of men surveyed reportedly experienced violence by their wife or partner in their lifetime. Although there is a lot of awareness about violence against women, people are still convinced that women cannot be violent. In fact, quite often, a woman slapping people around is termed 'cute'.

Women are not seen as a threat and men are not supposed to be physically hurt by women. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that so many were opposed to women joining the military and law enforcement — they aren’t supposed to be strong enough. And men are supposed to always laugh it off anytime a woman hurts them because ‘mard ko dard nahi hota’. Although India does not usually report cases of domestic violence by women on men, in the US, as many as 15% of men reportedly experience intimate partner violence.

indian-army-women_061319042531.jpgLike it or not, women are tough. And accepting this seems even tougher. (Photo: PTI)

The fact is, there are many women who are physically violent to their partners, male and female. With the added stigma of being ridiculed or thought to be less of a man, many victims do not come forward to report the abuse. They also fear losing custody of children or the consequences their partner will face. Not recognising that men can be victims is just plain and simple toxic masculinity. Blatantly joking about intimate partner violence on social media is inconsiderate and crass.

“You got beaten up by a girl.”

How many times have we heard this being said to put down a boy?

As a slight, it does its job quite well — it calls the boy weak and undermines the girl’s strength.

Time and again, girls are discouraged from getting into any contact sport. For the longest time, women were not allowed to serve in the military — even now, in the 21st century, only some countries allow women into active combat situations. But we will celebrate the Phogat sisters and Mary Kom? I guess they are seen as strong but for women, and they would not be able to do any real damage to a real man? Perhaps the reason women are not considered capable of physically abusing their male partners is that they’re supposed to be ‘dainty and delicate’. They’re supposed to be soft, understanding — and incapable of hurting.

download-2_061319042912.jpgSuch a strong girl! Mary Kom is still considered strong by 'women's standards'. (Photo: Twitter/Reuters)

These are additional problems because rather than just give women the equality they are fighting for, they get put on impossibly high pedestals. It is true that there are a lot more women that are victims of physical and sexual violence, both by strangers and intimate partners — but that does not nullify male victims.

It is also true that most abusers are men — but again, this does not mean female abusers should be let off the hook. It should also be noted that children who experience or witness domestic violence are more likely to become violent as partners when they grow up.

Women are human, just like men.

Women make mistakes — they are capable of being evil, nasty and mean, just as men are. They are also capable of being loving, good and kind, just like men are.

Personality traits like kindness are not attached to genitalia.

Most of us are probably all of these things to some extent, with some traits much more powerful than others. Deciding that women are not capable, physically or emotionally, of hurting men is a part of toxic masculinity.

These are a part of the struggle against patriarchy. It is true that we do not live in a world where gender equality is a reality. It is quite a distant dream. However, we have to work on what we can within our own areas of influence. Considering how vast Bollywood’s influence is, perhaps it's not too much to expect our stars to be more socially conscious.

Making light of domestic violence cannot be the only way to announce the release of a new film.

Also read: Not more Kabir Singh or Arjun Reddy! I want an 'angry young woman' in Indian cinema now!

Writer

Subuhi Safvi Subuhi Safvi @subuhis

The author works in the field of development and is passionate about gender issues.

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