On October 17th, The Print published an article where they asked six people from the entertainment industry to weigh in on their views on sexual harassment in the film industry. Tisca Chopra, an established actor who starred in films like Rahasya, Taare Zameen Par, and Qissa, had some very problematic views on the topic.
Here are some excerpts from what she said:
Why do these women go to hotel rooms? Do they not fear for their personal safety? Have they not heard of people’s reputations, and why do they engage with those men?
Why do they not say “no” point blank? And why be alone with a person like that? Every human being is hardwired to protect themselves. Self-preservation is the biggest instinct human beings have, why do they lose that? They think that somehow they will be the one that will duck the pattern and will escape. Knowing someone’s reputation, why would you put yourself in that position with them?
This isn’t the first time that someone has shamed a woman for being assaulted. Why is the onus of assault being put on the victim? When someone is sexually harassed or abused in any way, it’s not because they weren’t in the right place at the right time. It’s because the other party is a criminal who thinks he/she has the right and power to force themselves on someone.
In India, women are already dealing with a lot of stigma when it comes to rape, molestation, or any kinds of harassment. Feminists are constantly fighting to ensure that victims are not stigmatised or shamed for someone else’s crimes. And then, women like Tisca Chopra come in with their problematic opinions and ruin everything. If we were to abide by what she’s saying, then women will have to sit at homes and not go out to work because there’s no way of knowing when you’ll be touched inappropriately and by whom. Women are anyway constantly under the pressure of keeping themselves safe so saying that women shouldn’t “lose self-preservation” is completely misguided here.
When Harnidh Kaur, poet and writer, pointed it out to her, Tisca retorted by saying her comment was made in reference to the Harvey Weinstein situation in Bollywood.
Producers often have suites in hotels meant for hosting meetings. It’s common practice. The onus of assault ALWAYS lies on the perp. https://t.co/bE7XDqwutE— Harnidh//Peglet (@PedestrianPoet) October 18, 2017
Even in this context, we can’t blame female actors for agreeing to meet male producers in hotel rooms. As Harnidh rightly pointed out, most producers book hotel suites for film meetings and discussions. Instead of telling a woman to not go for a meeting, we should tell men not to assault their guests.
Assault is always the perpetrator’s fault and not the victim’s.
Apart from victim-shaming, Tisca made some comments about consent too. Here’s an excerpt:
What is happening in Hollywood is largely 30 years of somebody becoming a blatant predator. People, by and large, say “chance maaro, how can it hurt to ask”. Unless somebody says “no”, and the kind of “no” you say, and the manner in which you say it should convey that it is completely unacceptable to even ask this question.
Since I’ve never heard of the existence of different ‘kind of no’s,’ I asked Tisca Chopra to explain it to me on Twitter.
And here’s what she replied:
A tentative ‘no’, a polite ‘no’, a ‘no’ that means ‘maybe’ and worst of a ‘no’ that means ‘yes.. just push me more and I will relent’..? https://t.co/7mm4FZUBeT— Tisca Chopra (@tiscatime) October 18, 2017
Dear Tisca Chopra, a no is a no. Whether it’s polite or feeble, a ‘no’ means a fucking no and when a woman or a man says it, the other person should back the hell of. There isn’t a no that means “yes… just push me more and I will relent.” That’s something Bollywood, the industry you represent, has been trying to portray for a long time now.
It’s appalling to hear that the idea of consent is still so unclear. So, once and for all, here’s a quick tip on understanding someone’s NO:
If a person says no, no matter how or in which “manner” they say it, the other person should back off and ask clearly, “Is that a yes or a no?” in case it’s not clear. Under no circumstances, should anyone misinterpret it and go ahead and assault someone.
It’s infuriating to see people like Tisca Chopra ruin the work done by feminists, especially because the former is in a position to influence people. How long will it take for people and courts to stop victim-shaming and to understand how consent works?
It's 2017 and here we are: blaming women for being in the wrong place and not saying a strong enough 'no' because men will be men, right?