Why Is It So Difficult For Men To Accept A Woman Calling Out Toxic Behaviour?

Posted: July 3, 2019

Calling out a toxic, violent hero onscreen gets most men to go up in arms, in support of that man. “It’s just a movie” is not a valid defence.

The movie Kabir Singh released a week back, and since then my social media feed has been flooded with write ups panning the validation of toxic male behaviour in the movie. Though an ardent movie addict I decided to give this a movie a miss as I was not comfortable with storyline of its Telugu original Arjun Reddy, which also I chose not to watch after reading the story synopsis.

So, all of you out there must be wondering why am I here writing about a movie, which I did not bother to watch.

Well I am not here to write about Kabir Singh or Arjun Reddy, or the problematic aspects of these movies, that has already been done by a lot of others. What triggered this post is a snapshot of this comment on this article published by  Scoopwhoop  on 25th June.

This comment is being hailed by a lot of men and is being widely shared. The author of this comment calls the outrage of women over the movie Kabir Singh selective, as the toxic behaviour of the female protagonist in Raanjhanaa towards her “innocent lover” was not panned by any woman.

No, stalking is NOT love

The “innocent lover” term made me wonder if everything is everything a man does ranging from stalking, not accepting a simple and clear no to portraying problematic abusive behavior is considered acceptable and a means of communicating passion in love? Why is a woman either expected to hail and reciprocate positively to such behavior or simply keep mum and put up with it? Why does women calling out toxic misogyny hurt the collective male ego of the country?

Let’s begin with the “innocent lover” in Raanjhanaa, a man who is besotted with a girl in his town since childhood. While the girl keeps rejecting his overtures, he keeps pursuing her.

While I do agree there was no need for her to slap him all those times, but him refusing to accept the girl’s no is not innocent behavior. His relentless pursuits continue even after they are grown up adults. He declares on the streets “babhi hain tumahari” and drives violently on the streets with her riding pillion after she tells him she loves somebody else.

I wonder what was innocent about this behavior. He had no respect for the opinion of the woman he professed to love and refused to move on in life.

But a wide majority of our country’s populace chose to sympathize with this man, painting the woman as a villain. Agreed that she was responsible for his death in the climax as the author of the comment writes, but he comfortably chooses to ignore that this man knowingly caused irreparable havoc in her life in his pursuit of making her accept his overtures. He did not have the maturity to accept her rejection, but the author of the comment chooses to paint her as the villain, and the male protagonist who resorts to stalking and violent forceful behaviour as an innocent. This clearly shows lack of importance accorded to a woman’s opinion or for that matter the tolerance towards woman having an opinion.

“Innocent, passionate” men, but “obsessive, unstable” women?

I wonder – if Raanjhanaa’s Kundan can be an innocent lover, Kabir Singh a passionate one, then why was Ria from Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya, portrayed as a someone with serious mental health issues, who in the end is shown to be in a mental asylum? She was also the obsessive lover who wouldn’t take no for an answer. If that’s counted as love and passion in a man, why not in a woman?

The fact is that unreasonable obsession, be it for a person, relationship or for that matter anything, is a sign of mental health issues, and the person is in need of professional help.

Same is the case for repeated display of violent anger. Then why this attempt to justify it, when it is portrayed by a man on screen? A vast majority foolishly even dubs such unreasonable behaviour as ‘masculine traits’, while woman is expected to be coy and put up with it. Her agency and opinion don’t count. When she defies this and still speaks up, she is blamed for creating an unnecessary scene.

NOT “just movies”

There have been plenty of people who claim that these are just movies, why take them so seriously?

In a country where cinema has a religious following, it has a great scope for shaping the thought process. But unfortunately, our country’s cinema has mostly only managed to deride the thought process, by making deplorable acts seem perfectly normal.

A guy pursuing and forcing himself on the hapless girl till she accepts his overtures has for decades been termed romantic, so much so that you can hear random men mouthing “ladki ki na main haan chupi hain.” (If a girl says no, she’s hiding a yes) As if the  woman doesn’t know what she wants to say!

Romanticizing of stalking and treating women as acquisitions has already caused enough harm. It is high time Bollywood stopped encouraging such riled thinking which propagates misogynistic thought process.

A man following a lady on a bike singing “Premi, aashique awara” is not romantic but creepy. It took ages for a whole generation to understand that; I am wrong many like the writer of the comment I have shared, and his supporters still don’t.

So instead of giving more strength to their already skewed and entitled thought process, it would be good if the actors chose their roles sensibly. Instead of showing Devdas wasting away while the world accuses Paro of ruining his life, how about showing him trying to discover life on his own or giving his relationship with Chandramukhi a chance? Sounds familiar; more of Dev D is what we need, but sans the self-destruction part. Till then people who hail characters like Kabir Singh and Kundan, ask yourself honestly can you tolerate either of them in your neighbourhood?

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