Miss-o-Gyny #Vaw #Patriarchy #Bollywood #Sundayreading

Shubhra Gupta : New Delhi, Sun Jan 06 2013,

A few days back, someone I thought I knew well cornered me with a volley of verbal abuse.

A few days back, someone I thought I knew well cornered me with a volley of verbal abuse. Out came the hallowed twinning of mother and sister, used over and over again. After the initial paralysing shock, I got thinking. It doesn’t matter how urbane or how educated or how “sensitive” the incensed person may be. The way to have a satisfactory blow out for an angry male is to go down the route where unspeakable things are done to ma and behen. And in some parts of India, to beti, too.

That is a true example of rage-via-misogyny. Sometimes I wonder if there is any other kind. The dictionary tells us misogyny is hatred, or dislike of women. The person who had placed me at the receiving end of his bile would have been horrified if I had accused him of being a misogynist. And he wasn’t. Not primarily. He was just being angry. He was just using words to express that anger. And that’s the tragedy: to use words derogatory to women, as abuse, not realising what you are doing. Or realising but not caring.

It’s everywhere. In casual conversation, in cool rapper riffs, in smart slang. And, of course, in the movies. I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me: look at Bollywood, the way they objectify women, those ghastly item numbers, those disgusting anti-women jokes, that’s true misogyny. And I always tell those accusers, who all glare at me as if I’m personally responsible for what they are being subjected to (I’m not, I’m not, I watch them films, same as you), that yes, of course, Bollywood is full of misogyny. It’s full of sick, lewd jokes. It’s full of the sort of male gaze that starts four inches below your chin and stops at your navel.

And then I tell them this: that Bollywood doesn’t come out of a vacuum. It is made up of people who are drawn from the same gene pool as you and me. The people who make the films, the people who act in them, are not so very different from us, the people who watch. Movies reflect life. And then life reflects movies. And it’s all a never-ending, vicious circle. So when Shammi Kapoor shakes his hair into his eyes, and stalks Saira or Sharmila, breaking into a song, he is just acting out a gender role, which has had approval and approbation for centuries. Men are the hunters and gatherers. Women should just lie down and arrange their hair to be dragged easier into the cave.

The guy who’s watching is, in his head, no less than Shammi. Nor Rajesh. Nor SRK, Salman, Aamir. Or Emraan. There’s that woman on the road. She is alone (even amongst a bevy of sahelis, a heroine will be alone, because the camera knows her, the one who will be the target of the hero’s “interest”). She is vulnerable. She can’t really tell the annoying fellow to take a hike, because who knows what will happen. He may become even more persistent. He may not stop at “being cute”. He may turn first borderline offensive. Then a boor: did she just say no to me? Then a rapist: how dare she say no to me? I’ll show her.

What most mainstream Hindi cinema has exhibited over the years, in the way it portrays “modern” relationships, from Shammi to Ranbir, is an arc of prescribed male-female responses. He chases, she runs away. He chases harder. She plays hard to get. He pants. She comes to a standstill. Game over. From being “that” girl, she becomes part of the holy trinity of ma-behen-biwi.

With an honourable exception or two, this is how it has always played out. Raj Kapoor got his leading ladies to wear diaphanous white, because it wets best. When Madhuri asks us what lies beneath her choli, we know it’s not her heart that’s looming across the screen in 40D. Over the years the leeway filmmakers have arrogated to themselves to become lewder, has grown by leaps and bounds. I’ll never forget that moment in a film in which Paresh Rawal’s character looks at a shivering girl in a corner, whom he is about to rape, and leers “chal, chal jaldi kapde utaar”. And how a whole wave of laughter rolled out from a section of the audience.

What the older cabaret artists did, inviting the male gaze to linger over forbidden territory thereby legitimising it, is now the role of the severely under-clothed item girl. If there’s no double meaning to your dialogue, where’s the fun? Do you seriously expect us to laugh at your “veg” jokes? Of course, she means yes, when she is saying no. What kind of man are you? “Jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai”.

This year’s most fearless heroine (Zoya in Ishaqzaade) who is shown toting a gun and speaking for herself, suffers the most regressive fate: sex is used by the hero for subjugation, not sublimation. If that is not misogyny, I don’t know what is.


Probe finds discrimination against SC/ST students in Delhi medical college

, TNN | Sep 24, 2012
NEW DELHI: A comprehensive enquiry by Bhalchandra Mungekar, Rajya Sabha MP, has found blatant caste-based discrimination against SC/ST students in Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi.

Mungekar, who was appointed commissioner of enquiry by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, apart from making wide-ranging recommendations, has suggested that Rs 10 lakh be paid as compensation to student Manish and others towards court and other expenses. “The mental trauma that they were/are made to undergo is not measurable in terms of money,” Mungekar said in his report.

He also demanded legal action under Prevention of Atrocities against SCs/STs Act against former principal V K Sharma, head of physiology department Shobha Das, principal Jayashree Bhattacharjee and Raj Kapoor, professor of physiology and a liaison officer for “resorting to caste-based discrimination and neglecting the duties assigned to them, not by omissions, but by commissions”.

The case relates to 35 SC students who appeared for the first professional examination in July 2010 and failed in the subject of physiology. Twenty-five of them failed again in the same subject despite the fact that many passed in other subjects. Mungekar said when students tried to meet college authorities, they were not entertained and had to resort to RTI to get information.

It was found that one student’s marks in physiology was shown lesser in the marksheet than what he had actually got. But, he said, no action was taken against the head of the department Shobha Das who said it was a typographical error. Even liaison officer Raj Kapoor refused to entertain them.

Students who failed in physiology requested the then principal V K Sharma to allow them to attend classes for the second year but were refused. The students went to Delhi High Court which allowed them to attend classes but the college took a long time to implement the order. As a result, most of them did not have requisite attendance. Students again approached the HC requesting that they be allowed to take supplementary examination.

They were allowed and most of them passed as the examination was conducted in the Army College of Medical Sciences under close supervision of the court. But it was a short reprieve as Sharma forced them to attend classes with the fresh batch. “They were again to lose one more year,” Mungekar said.

Students were not permitted to appear for the examination to be held in November 2011. Again, Delhi HC intervened and asked the college to take students who had cleared supplementary in second year and factor in their attendance. But the college did not relent. More shocking was the revelation that four students of general category, detained for inadequate attendance, were allowed to take the examination. Mungekar met the vice-chancellor and requested him to explore all possibilities but a decision is awaited.



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