The joke is on him.. Why should I be offended?

I no longer subscribe to newspapers or watch television. The news depresses me – the old adage of no news being good news coming true every time. It’s the same everywhere I look, every page I turn. Filmstars on their PR over drive, Politicians on their one-upmanship drivel, and Oh, not to forget the rapists and rich kids of MLA’s  mowing down the poor and homeless in their BMW’s & jaguars. Same shit, different day. So I stay away from it. Totally

I know if there is a situation or event of significance the news will come to me soon enough, no matter how stoic my avoidance of it is. And over the years I also know that there must indeed be an uproar of a *woman* oriented matter by the way my phone starts to ring. It’s the TV channels asking for a sound bite of course. Prime Time is an important slot- the channels need familiar faces you see. If someone is willing to speak freely it’s even better and the more the merrier.  And if they are willing to talk against the leading film stars or politicians it’s a hoot isn’t it? “ So Madam, what do you have to say about…?. ..’Please Maam. It won’t take more than half an hour…’

Some times I happily accept, if it’s a matter close to my heart.  Many other times I acquiesce, only because it’s impossible to say no after the umpteenth time or that the telephone call has been timely. When I’m so bored I need to fill up my hours and feel important myself. By talking about other people.

So this time around a couple of weeks ago,  when my phone started to ring many days in a row I knew something important must have occurred in the world of news again vis a vis woman hood or filmdom or both. Some matter that had the feminists up in arms. And I was right . ‘Madam please can you tell us what you think about the Salman Khan statement where he said the shooting of his new movie Sultan was so gruelling he felt like a raped woman?” “ Just half an hour madam, we’ll send the camera home”

I stayed away from the herd but it was impossible. Everywhere I went people could talk of nothing else. The outrage was everywhere. In their drawing rooms, partying in their ball rooms, Amongst the twitterati the chatterati the glitterati.

‘How dare Salman Khan say such a thing ya… how can he trivialize something so serious as rape and compare it to his role in a movie?’

‘ Does a woman who is raped get paid 100 crores to be abused’

‘Does he even know what a raped woman feels like? I mean why didn’t he say he felt like a sodomised man? ‘

“Can you imagine he’s refusing to apologize?’

“Did you know Salman’s father Salim Khan has apologized on his behalf? Why should a seventy year old man apologize for his 50 year old son ? Why didn’t he teach him good manners in the first place ya?’

‘What is this a PTA meeting “- that a father has to come into the classroom and say ‘Mere bête se galti ho gayi. Please use maaf kardo and school se mat nikaalo ?’

I desisted from commenting then but I say it now. In my opinion Salman Khan’s statement “of feeling like a raped woman’   was more insensitive and dumb than offensive. And I only say it today on another bored afternoon J because it is a matter of our subconscious psyche and the culture and environment that surrounds it. What we allow, what we imbibe and how we think.  This is a matter much larger than any film star or his genuflecting tribe of followers or attackers.

In my view, the fact that an actor of Salman’s stature and experience said it was a mere error of judgement and a spur of the moment irresponsible act on his part. Actors are under a lot of pressure while promoting their film, nonsense slips out of their mouth sometimes

But yet it was a typical statement. Of a certain kind of typical. And that is the real malady here

It was a statement that is * All male, steroid driven, Himbo kinda dumb dumba dumb dumb.

Locker room,  sharing porn on *Highschool boys* whatsapp groups kinda folly.  The ‘ The aaj mein iski leke rahoonga ‘ kind of warped machismo that stems from a primordial need to control dominate & abuse. What next, beat your chest and swing from a tree? Drag your woman by the hair and *take* her in your cave?

Hey you may be still be Tarzan but me no Jane- dig? And herin my friends is where the difference lies.

See, over the last few years I have been shocked to discover that many men indeed talk like that. Yes indeed they do. But only amongst themselves. Not when there are women present. Certainly not *decent women* Yes even your dear friends husbands and your brothers and kind uncles may talk like that. Even the educated and the so called “genteel’.   We women never or rarely know about it because they don’t talk to us or within our earshot that way. We the sisters, the mothers, the daughters and the wives are protected from all this. But yes men do talk like that amongst themselves and sometimes to those women who are not their sisters, their mothers, their daughters or their wives Women who are so vulnerable that they have to bear the brunt of this animal in the male. . Women who are people. But who recognizes or respects people for just being people? Why some of these men even pat each other on the back for it – the more violent the more masculine they consider themselves. Remember Nirbhaya?

So what concerned me more than Salman’s thoughtless statement, were the women around him who laughed at that moment. What exactly were these women laughing at? Or was their reaction as thoughtless and lacking in empathy as Salman’s own lines ?

What  also bothered me a tad was  the outrage that followed. The faux feminism. The need to punish, humiliate and disempower. The clichés. The platitudes. Why are we behaving like moral science teachers? Why are we forcing a man to apologize when he himself cannot perceive his wrong? Why are we attacking the ape rather than educating teaching and training him?

As I am writing this I am reminded of an incident many years ago at a screening of a movie where a man said of the leading actress ‘I doubt if she can make it to the screening today. I mean after last night with me , I’m sure she can barely walk’ The actress (who this man has not noticed was already seated at the theatre) laughed the loudest. I was appalled – I mean how could she? This ugly man had just said such a vile thing about her in public and all she could do was laugh? The man laughed even louder, pointing his fingers in that *I gotcha, you * way when he saw the actress laughing. She laughed again , again louder than him.

I asked her about it when I had a chance later. Wasn’t she offended by what the man had said about her? I certainly was

‘Ha, it wasn’t about me’ the actress laughed again ‘That was really funny because that man has nothing there. He was just trying to show off to his friends. The moron didn’t even realize that the joke is on him- why would I be offended?’

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