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Actor Tisca Chopra recently opened up regarding her casting couch experience. There is a constant notion that a woman's body is public property.
Actor Tisca Chopra recently opened up regarding her casting couch experience. There is a constant notion that a woman’s body is public property.
Tisca Chopra’s articulate way of sharing her story might have been breezy, light-hearted and may have even brought a smile on your face in appreciation for the way she speaks. But what she shared was definitely a sock in the stomach. It takes tremendous courage to share such painful, triggering stories, and that too, with a smile on the face and the aura of a fighter to boot.
Even as we speak, there are many young women who are misbehaved with in the entertainment industry through the casting couch, or as Author Nandini Krishnan recently wrote, through abusive misdemeanour and sexism in the name of getting carried away by the script.
That sexual favours have often been sought – nay, expected – of women is not confined to the film industry. We often hear of, read or, and even watch portrayals of women being harassed and approached with inappropriate sexual advances, in the work place, in exchange for promotions, salary hikes, roles and what not.
Laws have been drafted to respond to sexual harassment at the work place, but beyond being band-aid legislations, there has been precious little in the form of returns on the legalese investment.
While it is arguable that it a woman who finds herself in this situation can stand up for herself and fight it, we also need to set that argument in context. In an ideal case scenario, it is perhaps capable of holding water. But import it into an equation where there is power, and the unpacking takes a different tone.
A director, a corporate big wig or any equivalent in a fairly high position does not operate in isolation, but with a chain of command that carries power with it. This power can take virulent forms, and has often been used to silence dissidence or anything that is not acceptable. Thrown in the mix, it can make things difficult for one who chooses to speak up – much less openly, taking names and such.
There is more to what Tisca Chopra’s story suggests. Anyone can tell you that it is an outright exposition of the casting couch. But scratch deeper, and there’s more.
What her story reflects, is a greater undercurrent of misogyny and patriarchy which holds the entitlement to a woman’s body as a norm of sorts. There is a constant assertion and reassertion of the notion that a woman’s body is public property, and that any man can hop on the bus of entitlement and lay claim to it, offering “sops” in exchange for it.
What her story also reflects, is that the onus is repetitively always on the woman to get out of these situations, to avoid these situations and to save themselves. To this effect, it remains clear that a man seems to be absolutely unrestricted and that he can do what he wants, making inappropriate sexual advances included, while it is for a woman to avoid being subject to it.
With these messages constantly being repackaged and sold to us, we continue to allow a cycle of impunity, where the predator-prey dynamic is not an oversimplified rendition of reality.
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Chetan Bhagat had no business slut shaming Uorfi Javed or any other woman. If he wants to 'guide' young men in the 'right direction' then he should take accountability for his words.
Chetan Bhagat, one of India’s bestselling authors, thought it was an ingenious idea to slut-shame Uorfi Javed, an Indian actress and influencer, at the Sahitya Aaj Tak literature festival.
“Phone has been a great distraction for the youth, especially the boys, spending hours just watching Instagram Reels. Everyone knows who Uorfi Javed is. What will you do with her photos? Is it coming in your exams or you will go for a job interview and tell the interviewer that you know all her outfits? On one side, there is a youth who is protecting our nation at Kargil and on another side, we have another youth who is seeing Uorfi Javed’s photos hiding in their blankets.”
Uorfi Javed responded with a video on her Instagram stories calling out Bhagat’s bluff. She shared the screenshots of his previous chat conversations with Ira Trivedi, author and yoga instructor, which came to light during the #MeToo movement.
While boys are taught to naturally own the space they enter, girls are taught to give up, to accommodate, to adjust since "it is their primary responsibility to keep families and relations together."
Yesterday, I was watching these 4 young girls around 16 – 17 years old play badminton. They were having fun, goofing around with all 4 of them equally involved in the game.
In some time two of their male friends joined them, and as part of round robin, the 2 boys replaced two of the girls. All good.
As the play continued, I started noticing a change in the way the game was being played. The shuttle was played most of the times between the two boys and there was a sense of competition and aggression brought in. The other 2 girls playing soon starting losing interest in the game as they hardly got any game time. Even if the shuttle came towards them, the boy in their team would move and play that shot. They soon moved to the sidelines as the boys continued to play.
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