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What Our Reactions To Deepika’s Video Say About Us

Posted: April 1, 2015

The reactions to Deepika’s video say more about us than about the video itself. Are we too ready to interpret in a negative fashion?

A few weeks ago, when the Nirbhaya documentary was released, we know how the issue went viral on our social media. We had supporters for the documentary, we had people speaking “for” and “against” the screening and banning of the documentary. There were open letters to the Rapist and his advocate. Twitter was filled with #NirbhayaInsulted. There was blaming of the jail officials for letting in the journalist, the film-maker was accused of having having faked the scenario and bribing the rapist. Opinions flowed freely on social media through status messages, tweets, blogs and editorials.

Now, after a few weeks, the whole story is dead. Social media has ‘moved on’. With the ICC world cup and other such hot material, the world has decided to ‘move on’. Nobody seems to be bothered about Nirbhaya anymore. As they say, “Life must go on”. So we moved on! The deep rooted pain and torture Nirbhaya underwent remains. The ultimate truth that she was raped and brutally murdered remains. Nirbhaya and so many others were raped and are still being raped. Some of them died. Some of them live with the pain.

Other than making our opinions and statements clear from the comfort of our own homes, what have we done? Ask this question to yourself. Did any of us try to address the root cause? What steps did we take to prevent such issues at least in the future? Is this what we call the ‘Power of Social Media?’ Or is it simply  a platform for us to make statements and opinions?

A few days ago, something went viral again; a video starring Deepika Padukone. In two days time, we had the video going viral, and the next two days saw the rise of videos mocking the original video. People began criticizing the video, the maker, the actress. After all, its our choice to interpret anything and everything.

“My choice… to marry, or not to marry. To have sex before marriage. To have sex outside of marriage. To not have sex.”

The phrase, “sex outside of marriage” is what actually triggered so much criticism from around the world. If men do the same, would they not be called “cheats”, asked people. While I am not sure what the makers of the video actually wanted to convey by the statement, I would love to have it interpreted as:

Respect a woman for the choices she makes. If she chose you among millions of other men, respect her for love. 

“…the bindi on my forehead, the ring on my finger, adding your surname to mine, they are ornaments. They can be replaced, my love for you can not.”

While she makes you her choice, while she chooses not to have sex out of marriage, in spite of having options, Respect her. 

A video that was meant to empower women now has got attention for the wrong reasons. Social media, which is the mass including you and me, is again trying to interpret every statement that was made, while we are all ignoring the cause again. It’s all shout-outs, tweets and statuses from the comfort of our homes!

Let’s give it a thought! What have we actually done to empower women? The fact that we may not be able to go out to protect every women, is an understatement. We can all start from our own homes.

Empower the women in your lives – your mother, your sister, you wife and your daughter! Stand up for them. Speak up and stand up, when you see a woman is abused in front of your eyes. Speak up for their cause! A train journey, a bus ride or on a random street corner, when you know a woman is harassed, don’t walk away! Make your “choice” today.

You wouldn’t walk away, would you?

Bilna Sandeep is a Civil Engineer by profession who is currently on a career break

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  1. Well said, Bilna. I was wondering when would someone come up with a simple interpretation and message from the video, rather than a lab dissection for each and every monologue in the video. Just can never understand why one can’t just walk away with the simple take-away message conveyed, or why the fuss whenever the “three lettered word” is spoken out. Well, looks like the controversies and negative publicity itself helped in making the video go viral 🙂

  2. Exactly.. We interpret so much from anything and everything!! And its the interpretations that make such stuff go so viral!!

  3. People interpreted a lot about “sex outside marriage ” that just shows their mindset .
    there was so much we cud hav chosen to speak about but still d hype ws around d particular phrase

  4. Jyothi D'mello -

    This is the first response to the video that I really appreciate. People somehow thought it was “cool” to pelt out strong objections towards it. Honestly, when I saw it, I couldn’t wait for it to end because I got bored. It didn’t inspire me, but nothing said in that video made me loose my cool and want to go hit my Facebook to vent out how Deepika was an hypocrite and how Vogue is such a sham. Thanks for writing this.

  5. I am sorry to be the dissenter here, but I disagree. While women empowerment is imperative, this video, to me, at least, seemed inclined to be more sensational and stereotypically vague, than empowering. The choices that have been talked about in the video are of course, just that. However, just stop a moment and imagine–these same words, word for word, are being uttered by men instead of women. Wouldn’t you, as a woman, feel affronted, disrespected, insulted? I know I would, if a man says, for example–it is my choice, to have sex out of marriage. Would I, as woman, then think–‘hey, this could mean so many things! Why does it have to be infidelity’? Pardon me, but I know I could not have. Just like I cannot now. It is unacceptable to equate infidelity with empowerment. And sex out of marriage means infidelity. Black and white.

    Also, just imagine a world in which everyone does exactly what one chooses to do? Is such a world habitable? I mean, realistically? Be it men, or women, choices imply so many things! It is easy to do a lip-service and say ‘respect so-and-so’s choice’. However, how happy would I be if someone else’s choice actually impacts MY well being? I know I would not!
    I would want to share an anecdote–this had happened to a friend of mine. Her boyfriend was being unfaithful to her–not once or twice, but on numerous occasions. When my friend had confronted her, he had told her–“I do not deny any of your allegations, However, at the end of the day, I choose to come back to you–isn’t that proof enough of my love for you?”. My friend had broken up with him. And I think she had done the right thing.

    Being aggressive is never about empowerment. Being humane is. And when you are humane, sometimes your responsibilities, your respect/empathy for others, override your choices for yourself and are replaced by choices you make for others. Somehow, to me at least, it did not seem like the video touched much upon that.

    • Hi
      Thanks for your comments. I was just saying about the way we interpret anything and everything. Positive or Negative! I am not saying the video is empowering! What I am saying is we need to rethink the way we think!!!
      We find it cool to criticize! But what are we doing?? How can we contribute towards the cause rather than support or criticize all such videos and campaigns!! Its in fact those hyped reactions that made the video go viral

  6. Bilna, your response, if (I understood it correctly) seemed to imply that all those who are reacting about the video on social media are not doing anything empowering around them (contributing towards the cause). Isn’t it rather far fetched to assume that the critics/supporters on social media are NOT doing their bit? I mean, how does one know if they are, or they are not? Is there really any co-relation between the two?
    If something has been created for consumption on social media, it would obviously generate a reaction (positive or negative) on the social media itself, right (and thank God it does, or else, frankly what is the point of making such videos and posting them on the social media platforms if not generate public discussion)? This video seemed insincere and sensational to a section of the virtual community, and they reacted with negative criticisms. The ones who did not find any such thing about the video, reacted with positive reinforcements. And then there is the non reactionary group who do not believe in reacting to anything, possibly ( or maybe they don’t even care enough to voice their opinions). All in all, it is a natural reaction to any topical issue! How much is really being done about empowering women around us is a pertinent question, and also one which definitely needs introspection. But it is a completely different discussion from this one…to my personal understanding, at least.

    • I agree with every point you have said. Everybody has the right to interpret, judge and discuss social issues and anything concerning it. And like you said, we do not have a measuring tool to know how many of them are actually doing something to empower women in their daily life. True said.
      Through my article the main intent I try to convey is, if only we could see the vigor and enthusiasm of the reactions through social media in our real life. I have seen many people walk away simply because they may be too busy with their own life. Then they may not be the ones who reacted on social media. I wish we see many more of the social media enthusiasts on the random corners of the street where women have had to face it real!

  7. The negative criticism of the video has only done a disservice to feminism and women’s causes. It exposes the sad reality that there is no solidarity among women’s movement. Everybody is busy claiming my feminism is better than your feminism. Here’s what the criticism actually did – Young girls and boys, say the age group of 16 to 21 instantly liked the bold video and applauded it. Some got inspired too. But as the senior feminists poured in the nuanced criticism, they felt confused, even embarrassed. They were quiet downed. Then, the men joined the criticism. As a spoof of the video, they created their own version of My Choice, as if they didn’t already have enough choices. Cyber bullies started personal attack against Deepika Padukone questioning her credibility as a voice for feminism. Feminism was hijacked, everybody forgot who the real enemy was. https://sanjukta.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/vogue-empower-video-deepika-padukone-my-choice-feminism/

    • Your words perfectly describe the Situation! This is exactly what happened! We are busy defending ourselves and our opinions and forget our REAL ENEMY!

  8. My choice goes deeper than what is spoken about in the video. What about education? Equal opportunity at work? The aspect of wearing clothes of choice or having sex outside of marriage made the focus shift from the core motive of the video. The bottom line is to respect a woman and her choices. The video did not bring out that aspect.

    • Hi Neha,

      You have every right to express your opinion about the video! We do not know what the makers actually intended! What if it was a publicity stunt?? Maybe not! But especially since one of her movie is releasing, what if that was a publicity stunt?? So aren’t the ones who over reacted over social media who gets fooled big time???
      I am not a supporter of the video! I just tried to make a positive perspective out of those controversial words!
      But its high time we discussing whose way of empowering women better! I believe we must all start our doing our part that would actually empower women. Simple steps would help them!!

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