I am writing this letter... it's my choice
You opened and are reading it... it's yours
You abuse the balls out of me or spare a moment of thought, it is again your choice
Because that is the beauty of living in a democracy. It gives you CHOICES, irrespective of gender.
So why do we need a leading Bollywood actress to tell us what should be the choices of Indian women? Why do we need a Bollywood director to make a short film on "women issues"? And most importantly, why do we find it so appealing that it has gone amazingly viral?
Because India is a misogynistic country with a patriarchal set up which needs to be set right. Because Indian men are lecherous and do not respect female species at all. Hence, hard hitting pictures of menstruating girls, videos bearing social messages starring Bollywood stars MUST go viral to drill some sense into the Indian system.
So far so good, because I have tried to hold back sarcasm in my tone as much as Homi Adajania has tried to glorify the concept of an eye for an eye in his new short video. The video starts with a poetic description of the word "choice" which then romances the concept of womanhood and finally delves into the realms of gender stereotypes, like most videos, in the name of 'celebration of womanhood.'
No doubt womanhood should be celebrated.
No doubt it's your body, your mind, your choice.No doubt, to be a size zero or size 15, is your choice.No doubt, to marry or not to marry, is your choice.No doubt, to love a man, or a woman, or both is again your choice.
But having sex outside of marriage? Your choice? I doubt!
To carry a baby or not? Solely your choice? I am afraid not.
The video starts to irk me when it indulges in unabashed selective usage of the word "choice"! And I am not saying this because I am a man. Before I go any further, sample this comment from a female YouTube user on the video:
"If it is your choice to have sex outside marriage, it should be his choice too. Don't call him a cheat.
If he wants to marry a fair, beautiful girl, don't call him sexist. It's his life, it's his wife. Simple!
If he asks for dowry at the time of marriage, don't call him a dowry seeker because it is again his choice.
Don't force him to move out with you, because it's HIS CHOICE to stay with his parents."
Do not file a rape case on promise of marriage after having consensual sex because he made a CHOICE not to MARRY YOU."
And this is not even a man speaking! A lot of women are feeling the same way after watching the video because the logic of the video goes from stereotypical to bizarre in a very short span of time. If the video is anything to go by, ISIS is absolutely right when when they stab or shoot people on camera, it's their choice after all! You don't cry foul if BBC airs "India's Daughter" because, again, it was their choice! You let Salman Khan walk free because one fine day he was getting bored and had the choice of killing a black buck for his pleasure or letting it go because law didn't approve of that. He decided to avail his choice! Oh dear, I wish availing "choices" without facing repercussions, good or bad, was that simple!
Come to think of it, how can two genders be so different that what is considered infidelity and sexism for one, becomes "choice" and empowerment for the other? When did adultery become feminism?
Yes, I am a man, but correct me if I am wrong when I define feminism. Isn't feminism about breaking even with both the genders rather than pulling one down? Isn't it about meting out equal treatments to both the sexes than being anti-men and slut-shaming other women. Yes, a certain section of men need to be shamed, but does feminism endorse inflicting pain on men in general to derive pseudo pleasure? In my opinion, the term feminism is as much for men as it is for women because men too struggle with gender stereotypes. And as far as this video is concerned, all men have caged minds and freeing them is Deepika Padukone's and Homi Adajania's CHOICE!
Talking of the duo, I am reminded of a blockbuster movie called "Cocktail" which coincidentally (read ironically) was also directed by Homi Adajania and starred Deepika Padukone. The movie in its 2.5 hours of run-time gave every possible reason to establish Deepika's character as a 'slut' because she wears short skirts, sleeps with men, goes clubbing, does drugs and pours herself into liquor while Diana Penty dresses in salwar-kameez and is projected as the 'good girl.'
As expected, nice girl gets married while the outrageous one is left sulking in the corner. So, a video like 'Vogue Empower' from the same duo appears a bit superficial and as far as the audience is concerned, most of us do not have a short memory!
I personally love Deepika Padukone as an actor and I think she looks really good and convincing in whatever roles she performs. But then again, that is precisely why this video got me really worried, both for the female audience and for Deepika Padukone's own image. For no particular reason, Deepika Padukone's over enthusiastic PR team has been trying hard to project her as the new age 'feminazi' which she absolutely does not need to become! Yes, we all stood united with her in her ugly spat with TOI or participation in AIB roast or depression issues because there was a woman conveying heartfelt messages to an audience who loves her as a person.
However, in the 'Vogue empower" video, Deepika parrots lines which she must not have given a hard thought to, because if "absolute freedom of choices" is what Deepika Padukone supports, she has not only failed herself but also her supporters as again, it was TOI's choice to gain clicks out of her cleavage.
There is a very fine line between freedom and absolute choice, and that absolute choice can have multiple connotations, good, bad or ugly. The video can never be justified as empowering, not with Vogue's name on it, not with Deepika Padukone hooking her bra, and most importantly never on the pretext of feminism.
Oh, by the way, I never said you should not watch the video. You should, by all means. Because you too have that CHOICE, just like I do of having this opinion.