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How exactly is a glamorous photo shoot depicting rape, going to promote the cause of combating violence against women?
Today morning, a friend posted a link to an album on Behance by a Mumbai-based photographer on my Facebook wall. The description of the link given by said friend was disturbing and so was the image that came with it.
Once I got my desktop to behave, I saw the images. A fashion photographer had put up pictures of his latest photo shoot, which depicted a female model being man-handled by male models inside a bus. Hmmm. Was this supposed to be art? Or an actual editorial photo-shoot? I really wasn’t sure. The resemblance of the scene to December 2012’s Nirbhaya case was hard to miss. But hey, I am quite sure she wasn’t looking calmly out into the distance, while two men grabbed her arm.
What was this supposed to mean?
According to the photographer Raj Shetye the photo shoot, titled ‘The Wrong Turn’ aims to raise awareness on the issues around class and sexual harassment. How exactly, you ask? I have absolutely no idea.
But for a few hours Twitter went crazy about it and there were a number of websites talking about it (like I am doing right now). To Buzzfeed’s Rega Jha, Shetye said, “On a personal level, too, I got many reactions. On my Facebook, from my friends. It makes me feel satisfied about my work – at least the work I did is so impactful that I’m able to shed some light on this. I don’t feel happy, but it makes me feel satisfied. That whatever I’ve tried to communicate is being communicated.”
I am still not sure how his ‘art’ managed to shed light on crimes against women other than piggy-backing on an extremely serious issue to get some publicity. Shetye also hinted at the project intending to talk about the class divide and how rich people dress well and travel in their cars, while average people traveling in public transport have to dress ‘norm’ and such women can’t dress well even if they wanted to.
He follows it by saying, “…what gives (men) the right to assume that well dressed women in public transport can be targets…” I am not sure what Shetye meant by this, but if he is hinting that a woman becomes a target for sexual violence because she is dressed well, he is being both ignorant and at the same time trying to save himself from saying something as idiotic as the ‘short clothes cause rapes’ discourse.
Even if Shetye’s intentions are presumed to have been in the right place, he should have worked a little harder to ensure that his opinion against a social evil doesn’t end up saying the exact opposite of what the we think the problem is.
How and why Shetye imagined that a fashion shoot glamourising the heinous act of rape would actually create awareness about the subject, I cannot fathom. But he is very satisfied with his work, so kudos to him for completely missing the point.
Delving a little deeper on what the photo shoot intended got many of us to the tags section of the shoot. As the page has now been taken down from Behance, here is a snapshot of it from earlier:
It doesn’t really look like this was meant to create awareness about sexual crimes, rather it seems to be projecting rape and gang rape as ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’. Hell, there is a tag for ‘love’ as well. I know many people who would easily sit and analyse this for hours, I am not going to indulge in the same in this post. Not sure of the intended awareness, but yeah, we are all aware of the photographer now. Job well done. (That was sarcastic by the way)
In closing I would actually like to point to a friend’s comment on the wall post, questioning (not comparing gang rape and murder) the glorification of murders and other such crimes by movies and serials and why such episodes do not attract the same outrage as this did.
We should think about it.
Pic credit: Crl (Used under a CC license)
Bookworm, feminist, foodie--not particularly in that order. Twitter: @sweta_pal89
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