Rough Cut

Those who went after Swara Bhaskar for saying she felt 'reduced to a vagina' after watching Padmaavat

We thought we should categorise them according to the stereotypes they represent.

 |  Rough Cut  |  4-minute read |   31-01-2018
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The reaction to Swara Bhaskar's piece on her being reduced to a vagina after watching Padmaavat says a lot more about them than it does about the actor. The reactions have varied from applause to attack. While some have commended Swara for being brave in an industry where no one speaks up for anyone else or anything else, others have found various false equivalences. The reactions are expected (if virulent) so we thought we should categorise them according to the stereotypes they represent.

1) The Angry Hindu Dude

Vivek Agnihotri is a very articulate man. He is also a very angry man. And he decided that Swara should take a trip to Bastar to listen to "gut wrenching stories" of ex-Naxal women to understand what the "Real Vagina" feels like. Clearly, there is such a thing as a Vagina Authentication Service that Mr Agnihotri is aware of — and no one else is. 

2) The Angry Hindu Woman

So let's all first celebrate the fact that more women are choosing to air their opinions, at whichever end of the political spectrum, and then examine the reactions of Suchitra Krishnamoorthi and Raveena Tandon.

So Ms Tandon referred to an earlier tweet on a Yazidi girl who was repeatedly raped by ISIS men, and said that Swara implied that Rani Padmavati should have chosen to remain a sex slave rather than committing jauhar. I still haven't wrapped my head around that comment — is Ms Tandon saying the Yazidi girl should have chosen death over rape, echoing Sushma Swaraj's zinda lash comment after the Nirbhaya rape? Or is she suggesting that certain religions allow rape while others don't? Or is she saying that 21st century standards cannot be applied to the 13th century? Wake me up when it's clear.

swara-hindu_013118082434.jpgPhoto: DailyO

Ms Krishnamoorthi found it odd that an actress who can play an erotic dancer/prostitute should feel any anger at the sacrifice of a "pious queen". Again the comment is somewhat baffling, as it suggests an inability to differentiate between acting and real life. And it also suggests that those in the film industry do not have the right to demand a more responsible story telling if they do certain types of roles. Surely just as Sanjay Leela Bhansali has the right to make a film that demonises Alaudin Khilji and valorises Rani Padmavati's jauhar, Swara Bhaskar has the right to protest that depiction. At least, unlike the Karni Sena, to whom Bhansali offered a hapless apology, Swara bothered to watch the film.

3) The Word Police

There were also those who were concerned about her use of the word vagina. Some felt she had overused the word. I presume though that the use of the word is deliberate and provocative. If you don't provoke, you cannot change. And as Swara herself has tweeted, that should not have been the only take back from her 2440 word article.

4) The Sour Grape Sisters

This is an argument that works for everything. Oh, she took on Harvey Weinstein because she had nothing to lose. Oh, they accused Bill Cosby because he was famous and they were not. Oh, yes, he attacked Woody Allen because you know who his mother is. It goes on. A sexually offensive piece of work or comment or person is never without defenders. It's quite natural. It is, after all, the status quo. Anyone who unsettles it, rejects it, attacks it, should be shamed. So Swara's comments can stem only from "jealousy" and not actually any noble intention of wanting to call out something that is clearly regressive and misogynistic.

5) The JNU Haters

This is a hallowed club that includes chief economic advisers, former HRD ministers, and particularly bellicose TV anchors. So Swara cannot help but spread such (misquoted) ideas: "Being raped by invader and become their sex slave is way better than committing suicide (jauhar) to avoid that life." It is because she is a JNU alumnus. Because apparently only JNU produces thinking students, which I presume JNU will wear as a badge of honour.

Is it a surprise that Bollywood has not seen the rise of those who can name and shame their rapists, molesters, harassers? It is not because Bollywood's morality is superior to that of Hollywood. It's just that anyone who calls them out will never eat lunch in the town again.

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Writer

Kaveree Bamzai Kaveree Bamzai @kavereeb

Consulting editor, India Today Group

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