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In a recent round table discussion on sexual harassment, noted actress Rani Mukherjee’s comments on the #metoo movement were shocking and highly disturbing.
Rani Mukherjee starts off by saying that “nobody would have dare to do that to me“, exposing her ignorance and arrogance in regards to a serious issue like workplace sexual harassment. Not stopping at that she also wants girls and women to learn martial arts, and be prepared to defend themselves, conveniently placing all the responsibility on the victims and not the offenders.
She fails to realise the implication of her statements even as the other actresses on the panel try to discuss the futility of her statement.
From learning martial arts to “mothers should be taught how to bring up sons“ she puts the entire onus on the women with not a word of advice for the men. But why are we surprised?
This is not the first time that film stars have displayed such irresponsible behaviour; however, the fact that after all the noise the #Metoo movement made, we have a famous actress making such statements clearly shows how far from reality some celebrities can be.
Rani here only blurted out what many think and say in private, where victim shaming is done without any reproach to the offenders. But when Rani Mukherjee being a public figure makes such statements, it reflects badly on the ethos of the industry she represents and only shows how oblivious she is to the rampant harassment in her industry. Her statement not only normalises victim blaming and shaming but the casual tone she uses also reflects how a serious issue is trivialised by a few privileged women.
The stories coming out of Metoo were horrific, filled with details of how young women were targeted by powerful men leaving them scarred for life. Even after hearing such stories if Rani can go on to offer advice about martial arts, it is extremely disturbing. Was it just her ignorance that she displayed or was it the ingrained patriarchy in many of the minds that gets exposed occasionally? How many of our celebrities have similar views? Are they so blind to the real issues plaguing society?
Celebrities like Rani Mukherjee need to be more aware of social issues and realise that many youngsters look up to them as role models. They need to understand and analyse what message they are sending to their fans on vital issues. Trivialising an important issue not only reflects badly on them but also has a negative impact on young minds. A few women who look up to Rani would blindly agree with her words and then these ideas get propagated, rapidly reinforcing misogynistic views.
While all over the world, celebs (and especially female celebs) are actively getting involved in social issues, the least expected from our own desi celebs is to have a little more awareness of such issues. Thankfully the other women proved to be worth watching, with clear views and ideas, giving us hope that all is not lost.
I hope Rani Mukherjee is an exception and not the norm in Bollywood. This is a quote I found apt for her words in this situation: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
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Did she really say that victim shaming is normal? I don’t know what exactly she said and I’m not defending her either, but why do women put the onus of their safety in the hands of powerful men who should be ‘taught to behave themselves?’ Or ‘punished by other men?’ See criminal minds are criminal minds and they don’t change easily.. it’s like robbery or theft or murder. Don’t we lock our houses? Don’t we keep watch dogs if we can? All I’m trying to say that… It’s our responsibility as women to be Head strong and not take any form of abuse.. we can’t just rely on ‘Men being nice and not perpetrating abuse’. We have to be strong and prepared for sexual violence as that can happen anywhere.. it doesn’t make the perpetrator ‘correct’ or the victim ‘at fault if she’s not prepared. But wouldn’t it be a good thing to be prepared for it? There’s a difference between victim shaming and urging potential victims to be prepared and be strong.. don’t mix the two things up. Why do we have to depend on ‘Men being nice and cultured’ for our safety? Do your preparation as well na! And support other women around you…
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