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It’s Not Ok To Objectify Neeraj Chopra Just Like It’s Not Ok To Sexualize Female Athletes!

A recent interview with Red FM's RJ Malishka dancing in front of an uncomfortable Neeraj Chopra has gone viral. Another interview by Navika Kumar congratulated girls as Neeraj Chopra was declared single. Why is the media interested in objectifying him, rather than talking about his achievements? 

A recent interview with Red FM’s RJ Malishka dancing in front of an uncomfortable Neeraj Chopra has gone viral. Another interview by Navika Kumar congratulated girls as Neeraj Chopra was declared single. Why is the media interested in objectifying him, rather than talking about his achievements? 

Well-known RJ Malishka posted a video on twitter where she and her team can be seen dancing in front of Olympic Gold Medallist Neeraj Chopra on a zoom call during an interview. The clip has been shared extensively receiving widespread criticism.

The radio jockey & team were dancing to the tunes of ‘ Ude jab jab zulfein teri’ while Neeraj Chopra looked visibly uncomfortable. If that was not enough when the RJ returned to her seat she exclaimed,” Haii kitna mazaa aaya ! Sorry hum ne zyada toh nahin cheda aapko?”(So much fun! Sorry, I hope we didn’t tease you a lot?) She then asked him for a hug (jadu ki jhappi) while hugging the screen. One could see he was very uncomfortable as he folded his hands and replied, “Namaste! Aise hi durr se.”

What if the genders were reversed in the Neeraj Chopra interview?

Perhaps the interview was done with a spirit of fun initially, but a line was definitely crossed. Imagine if this was not a zoom call, what would have happened? In all likelihood the RJ would have hugged Neeraj Chopra to congratulate him on the win. Can it be considered correct?

What if the genders were reversed; wouldn’t it be considered improper? If the same thing had happened to a woman where a bunch of men would be dancing in front of her, asking her for a hug! How would she and the rest of us react?

When it is not okay to hug or dance in front of a woman; it is definitely not okay to do the same with men!


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Times Now tweeted ‘Good news for girls…Neeraj Chopra is single’

In another interview by Navika Kumar he was asked irrelevant questions like, “You are the most eligible bachelor of the country. How do you feel? You are better looking than a superstar and currently you have a greater following that any film actor.”

Neeraj Chopra replied that he would like to focus on sports currently as that is more important. But Navika Kumar kept prodding him about a “girlfriend”. 

The following day the headlines read, “Exclusive big revelation by Neeraj Kumar-Good news for girls! No, I don’t have any girlfriend. My only focus now is sports.”

Sania Mirza asked about motherhood & Harleen Deol called a beauty queen!

A few years ago Sania Mirza was interviewed by eminent journalist Rajdeep Sardesai about when she was going to settle down and her parenting plans. 

She gave a befitting reply, “You sound disappointed that I’m not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway, that’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face — the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled.”

This immediately elicited an apology from the journalist, but the question created a huge hue and cry on social media platforms. Indian cricketer Harleen Deol was recently called ‘the beauty queen of women’s cricket’ by a prominent newspaper.

Where are we heading? This kind of journalism is shameful and embarrassing. We need to do much better than this.

Is Neeraj Chopra treated so casually because of his looks? 

Neeraj Chopra has achieved something that very few athletes have till now. He is a world class athlete, an army officer, and a world champion. We all know it takes years of hard work, sacrifices and training to make a name for yourself in sports.

You have to fight the system, struggle for years, have strength of character and resilience. We are a country with a population of 136.64crores and we have ten gold medals since the Olympics started! Is this how we treat our champions?

A question we need to ask ourselves is would this have been done in front of any other athlete? Would it be considered okay to dance in front of Kapil Dev or Viswanathan Anand? Does the thought of it make you uncomfortable? I really hope it does!

I have seen interviews where older male athletes in fact even some younger cricketers are addressed as ‘Sir’ during interviews. So why is Neeraj Chopra treated so casually? Is it because of his looks because it definitely does feel like that!

We don’t really care if Neeraj Chopra has a girlfriend! We want to know his journey to success…

Dear news channels and Journalists- I would like to speak on behalf of all the girls in this country.  Neeraj Chopra’s gold is just the beginning and has given inspiration for so many Indian athletes. We don’t really care if Neeraj Chopra has a girlfriend! We do want to know the struggles he faced to get where he is now! We want to know how he is training for the upcoming championships and we want to know what we as a country can do for him!

I don’t think we need to stoop so low for viewership, whatever happened to good journalism? Is it so difficult to ask the right and relevant questions? Let us not take the power of the pen and media for granted!

We need more articles and interviews that inspire the younger generation to take up sports. We need to do more for our athletes and invest in them. The need of the hour is to have better sports facilities, better training and more opportunities. Many of our medallists are from remote villages who have struggled to make a name for themselves.

Our athletes deserve respect that has been long denied to them- Men and women both!

Image source: Loksatta

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