The issue with our society is that people often miss out on social cues. If not that, we don’t second guess crossing lines. Lines that differentiate between right and wrong, ethical and unethical practices. And this reflects in our behaviour, almost everywhere. For instance, the job of a cameraperson is to cover the event. If it’s a cricket match, then cover the game, audiences, and everything that makes sense. But for some weird reason, a trend started, where cameramen started recording women during IPL matches. And there’s literally nothing that should be likable about it.
Of course, taking videos and pictures of people in the stands is a part of the work that is assigned to them. But that’s where the lines start getting blurred. It’s the intent that’s wrong here. Recently, during an IPL match, Kaviya Maran was at the receiving end of this practice, and ended up having to ask the cameraperson to go away. The cameraman had panned the camera towards her and kept it there for a long time – so she said, “Hatt, yaar.” And that is proof that something uncomfortable is happening – clear as daylight. Sadly, this is not the first or only instance.
The common argument around such coverage is that these are public places and audience reaction is required. Now, imagine someone recording you to a point that you’re uncomfortable with it. Would that be justified? Or if you get to a point where you have to ask them to stop, isn’t that problematic? Because, one wouldn’t be disturbed by something if it isn’t wrong. That’s the issue with these videos that keep getting viral on social media, they look harmless but they’re not, because the idea behind them is not.
The worst part is that too many people think it’s the women who are “looking for attention” from the people behind the camera. As if it’s an achievement to be spotted and be ogled at. It’s like, women are literally being objectified, but we’re treating it as a pedestal because someone found them ‘worth’ being on the camera CONSTANTLY. And the fact that news channels and media-persons are glorifying this idea of attention, is diabolical.
Supporting, laughing at or glorifying this is almost like glorifying objectification. But that’s the problem with our society, our lines are so blurred, we can’t even classify basic human behaviour.
Certainly, no one is talking about their intent out loud here. So a possible (and existing) justification is that they’re not ‘crossing boundaries’ – where boundaries are everything that is wrong according to the law. Because as long as something isn’t prohibited or written in block letters, we don’t treat it as unethical. Not that existing laws matter to us. But if pictures and videos of women are circulated from these matches – with captions and headlines like ‘Viral girls of IPL’ or ‘These faces went popular after being spotted on camera’ – can we really say there was no harm done? Isn’t the intent here to capture some women for their looks (conventional looks) and treat them as props? And that’s what they end up becoming – only ‘pretty faces’ or ‘IPL girls’.
And then there are memes. Memes that think that these women are getting a push by being captured and seen. This isn’t FAME. Calling this ‘fame’ is almost like saying, “a woman is asking for it.” At this point, these pictures are treated as jokes – where we celebrate a cameraman for being sleazy and focusing on these women. If a woman would ask them to not do it, it’d come of as ‘throwing a fit’ or an overreaction.
In another instance, a woman became the focus of attention during a match, more than the match itself. This took place during the RCB vs SRH IPL tournament in 2019, and she ended up being referred to as the ‘RCB girl‘. It wasn’t only derogatory in more ways than one, but also ended up being problematic for her. Deepika Ghose (the RCB girl) had shared what this simple and supposedly harmless coverage meant for her. Some people on the internet ended up tracking her name and other details, which also led too many to her social media profiles. This brought a lot of criticism and torture for her – just because she was constantly photographed during the match.
She also mentioned that her privacy was invaded, and a number of men were vulgar and disrespectful. All of this, because she was recorded during a game, and the videos were circulated with sensationalized headlines.
This and many other incidents are anything but harmless. They lead to invasion of privacy of women, in a nation that’s already unsafe for them. Seriously, no woman wants THIS kind of attention, and none of it brings anything closely positive. Cameramen who do end up being recognized and celebrated for these actions, are nothing but allies in making public spaces unsafe. They also normalize nullifying the idea of seeking permission. Because this might not be lawfully wrong, but it can totally lead to other amoral practices in public places.