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Would A Woman Blithely Speaking Of Her ‘Affairs’ Be As Easily ‘Forgiven’ As A Man Is?

Men do not realise their privilege in Indian society - no one does, actually, and what is OK for a man can never be OK for a woman. Unless we question.

Men do not realise their privilege in Indian society – no one does, actually, and what is OK for a man can never be OK for a woman. Unless we question.

“I was so busy in my career that I could not be there for my children during their growing up years.” 

“Inspite of the affairs, there was no love lost in their marriage and the spouse stood by the artist.” 

“I have slept with some three hundred plus people.” 

Read the above statements.

Did you read these statements and imagine a man speaking in their context?

If so, why? Did your mind automatically reach to that conclusion?

If not, congratulations! You don’t need to read the article further!

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If it’s the first case, Hi again! And now, another question. Ever wondered how you reached that conclusion?

This is a classic example of societal conditioning.

What if these were statements made by women?

Now think of all these statements given by women. Just. think.

Would a woman making any of these statements be judged a bit more harshly as compared to her male counterparts? Would this woman be accepted and respected by the society like most men are? Would this woman be ‘forgiven’ as easily in the eyes of the world? Would this woman still be considered an idol?

Gender inequality is enmeshed so deep in the fabric of our society that it would take a few generations of some damn strong women, and some very secure and evolved men, to push the process of bringing about a change, to a stage where change in viewpoint actually becomes a norm.

Blatant double standards

To understand it further, let’s see who made these statements or who are the people in question here:

The first statement is made by Mr Bachchan senior. He has a massive fan following because he is a brilliant actor. He also has people’s respect.

My question: Could a woman have given this statement and walked away with the same amount of respect and love and adulations and idol worship by the society?

The second statement was made about Late Mr Raj Kapoor. He is considered a great showman. his contributions in the world of cinema are immense. People love him. That’s getting his due for his talent. Respect.

Now, he in his personal life had many affairs and hardly made any effort to hide them. Inspite of all this, his wife always remained by his side. So, people respect her. Because she stood by her husband.

Now the question is, would a woman be getting her fair share of dues had she lived a life to that tune? Would her talent be still looked at objectively? Would her husband be admired for standing by her, or would society have laughed at a man who still sticks to his marriage and his wife inspite of her ‘straying tendencies’?

The last statement is made by Sanjay Dutt. In the movie Sanju, this whole unraveling of the number scene is dealt with a streak of comedy.

Just wondering if the audience would find humour in a scene where a woman in a light hearted manner divulged the number of men she has slept with and also confesses that she can’t remember the exact number? Would a movie be made on a woman, defending her stand, portraying her as a good at heart human being, and at the same time being unapologetic about the number of times and people she has had sex with?

The entitlement of male privilege

This is the entitlement and superiority that most men are used to having. This phenomenon exists all over the world. But, should it?

The sad part is, we are so conditioned right from the childhood that unless we are taught to question stereotypes and think out of the box, the societal conditioning is too strong to ignore and too woven in the fabric of the norms to get noticed. It would take immense awareness and a tendency to ask questions and challenge norms to bring about a shift in the mindsets.

So, next time if something feels not-so-right, a joke seems a bit inappropriate, a statement made by someone feels not in harmony with basic human equality and respect, just stop and think. Put a finger on what made you uncomfortable, identify the stereotype and then, QUESTION.

Till the time questions are not asked, change would not come. So, question anything that disturbs you on a humane level.

Let’s be aware, be alert, and be sensitive, so that gender equality is not just a concept as per the law but an actual reality in the hearts and minds of the masses.

A version of this was first published here.

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