Bollywood is one of the biggest film industries in the world. So naturally, the reach of Indian celebrities is widespread. They make a great impact on their audience. Their words and actions on crucial issues are closely observed by fans.
Gender pay gap, female representation, and women objectification are a few issues Bollywood celebs have spoken about several times. While it is not just women’s responsibility to uphold feminism, it is disheartening to see female celebrities undermining the movement. Sometimes by not understanding the concept fully, and other times by being tone-deaf and insensitive. Here are a few instances when female celebrities let every woman down.
1. When Rani Mukherjee stressed that girls be taught martial arts in schools because that’s the only way to fight harassers.
In 2018, when the #MeToo storm was brewing, famous Bollywood actors came together for a roundtable discussion over many issues including the MeToo movement. Rani Mukherjee was also a participant among other actors like Anushka Sharma, Deepika Padukone, Tabu, Alia Bhatt, and Tapsee Pannu.
During the discussion, the celebrities were talking about how to make a safer work environment in the industry, Rani Mukherjee suggested that girls should be taught martial arts, and self-defense should be made essential in schools.
Oh, ok.— megzie (@megzie__) December 30, 2018
So you can’t tell people how to bring up their sons to be respectful of women, but perfectly practical to make sure all women, girls, infants are enrolled for karate classes en-masse, pronto.Dafuq Rani? #ranimukherjee and Preity are a blot on the actresses of their time https://t.co/lRAQNLGSYY
Countering her point, Deepika Padukone said why should we even bring it to the point where girls should learn self-defense. Rani made it worse by saying:
You can’t tell mothers how to bring up their children.
2. When Lisa Haydon said that women have been given their bodies to produce children.
In 2016, Lisa in conversation with a leading daily said that ‘feminism’ is an overused term and that she didn’t like the word ‘feminist’. Making a controversial statement, she said:
Women have been given these bodies to produce children, and the spirit and tenderness to take care of people around us. It’s fine to be an outspoken and working woman. I don’t want to be a man. One day I look forward to making dinner for my husband and children.
The comment didn’t go down well with many people and the model-actress was trolled on Twitter:
3. When Alia Bhatt rubbished the idea that female actors should always receive pay equal to their male counterparts.
Pay parity is a huge issue in the film industry. Even after being a part of films like Raazi and now Gangubai Kathiawadi, Alia in an old interview with DNA, said:
Investing money in a film is directly co-related to the people you are bringing to the theatre. I’m not delusional that the same number of viewers who go to watch Varun’s movies will come to see my work. He has a wider reach than me. That’s why I can’t expect that the same amount of money, which is invested in his solo-starrers, is invested in mine, too.
4. When Taapsee Pannu made some tone-deaf comments about harassment on being called out for starring in Judwaa 2.
Taapsee raised our expectations with her movies like Pink and Naam Shabana. But her role in Judwaa 2 did not go down well with the audience. In an interview with the Indian Express, she was asked the problematic scene in Judwaa 2 where a guy kisses a girl and slaps her butt forcibly. She said:
He (Varun’s character) comes and apologises (to the girl). It’s his apology, his truthful apology that makes the girl feel maybe he deserves another chance. We can’t stop showing these things. The problem is when we start glorifying these things and make it heroic. We didn’t make it heroic in the film.
5. When Ameesha Patel shared a regressive attitude towards menstruation and called it a ‘girl problem’.
In 2015, Kushal Tandon accused Ameesha of being disrespectful to the nation by not rising during the national anthem at a theatre in Mumbai. Responding to his accusations, she tweeted that she had a reason for not standing up as she was on her period. Her comments reinforce the idea that women are ashamed of speaking about periods in public.
Men like him who have forced a woman 2 speak about her intimate girly problems are jerks .. He is a shame to society— ameesha patel (@ameesha_patel) October 26, 2015
6. When Parineeti Chopra made a problematic statement saying she wants to be a role model for women but not a feminist.
At that time Parineeti was the brand ambassador for Haryana’s ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign.
I am very often confused to be a feminist but I am not. I am really not. Coming into Bollywood, I think definitely it has made me stronger and more responsible. I do feel proud of my gender, of being a woman. I do speak against gender inequality. I am the brand ambassador for Haryana’s ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ campaign. And I think it is very important for me personally to strive for equality, especially in the industry that I come from.
7. When Kareena Kapoor admitted that she wouldn’t call herself a feminist and is proud to be known as Saif Ali Khan’s wife.
Answering a question in a press conference for Veere Di Wedding, she said:
I believe in equality. I wouldn’t say I am a feminist, I would say I am a woman and above all, I am a human being. I am also as proud to be known as Saif Ali Khan’s wife, as I am to be Kareena Kapoor. So that is just the way I am.
8. When Sunny Leone said that she does not see ‘objectification’ as a bad word.
In an interview with BBC World News in 2016, Sunny Leone talked about working in the Indian film industry. When asked if the Indian film industry commodifies or objectifies women more than men, she said:
I don’t know. I objectify men all the time. Just kidding! Maybe not so much kidding but I don’t see the word ‘objectification’ as a bad word. We all objectify things and products and people to sell the product we wish to sell. For me sometimes, it is selling the brand ‘Sunny Leone’. For a film, it’s selling the name with the film.
Which one of these disappointed you the most?