Sunday, 3 July 2016

Why Salman Khan Doesn't Owe Anybody an Apology

How NCW is Raping its Own Dignity

One can understand frenzied feminists descending like vultures on Salman Khan for his alleged insult to women with his rape analogy.  But for the National Women's Commission ( NCW) to send a summon to Salman Khan with the threat of suing him, is to rape the dignity of NCW-or whatever little there is left of it in this otherwise ineffective and toothless institution.

When is the last time you heard or saw the NCW do something meaningful or memorable for women?  Most of its chairpersons have been political appointees and have therefore used the office to emote profusely while doing very little constructive work. It is also a poorly administered institution without fine tuned systems for responding to challenges that women of India face today. Therefore, all we get from NCW are knee jerk responses to trivial events rather than a well thought out vision and program of action for improving the lot of women.


Left: Lalitha Kumaramangalam-- Raping the dignity of National Commission for Women
Right: Salman Khan--Hounded by frenzied feminists on frivolous charges
At a time when, on a daily basis, we are being confronted with gruesome reports of gang rapes of women and kids, thousands of children being abducted every year for inhuman forms of trafficking, millions of women been sucked into the flesh trade every year, countless women becoming victims of cyber crimes; the NCW had to pick up the most ridiculous issue to flex its muscles. Its chairperson is acting as though a man using the word ’rape’ commits a far more heinous crime than actually raping women. We, however, have not seen such macho threats issued to actual rapists.

Before I offer my reasons for coming out in defence of Salman Khan, let me refresh the readers' memory by quoting, from the original source, the exact statement as well as the background of the controversial remarks.  In response to a reporter's question as to what kind of effort he put in to get the character of wrestler Sultan (in a soon to be released film of the same name, depicting the life of a Haryana’s wrestlers ) physically right, Salman said:

It’s a tough process. You need ample training like the wrestlers. The training Aamir Khan and I have been through is similar or probably a little more than what the wrestlers go through. If we didn’t do it, we wouldn’t be able to fight convincingly in the ring…. I underwent weight training. Then I perfected the moves. I spent 2-3 hours in the day practising those because in the film, I go from the village level akhada to the mat-based ring and then the MMA arena. So I had to do a lot of punching and kicking. I had to be convincing or else I’d look like a fraud.

The reporter then comments, "The shoot must have been gruelling..." To this Salman responds:

While shooting, during those six hours, there’d be so much of lifting and thrusting on the ground involved. That was tough for me because if I was lifting, I’d have to lift the same 120-kilo guy 10 times for 10 different angles. And likewise, get thrown that many times on the ground. This act is not repeated that many times in the real fights in the ring. When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman. I couldn’t walk straight. I would eat and then, head right back to training. That couldn’t stop.

Far from finding these remarks offensive, I was actually moved by them for the following reasons:
Salman did not make a casual light hearted comment about rape, nor referto it as an enjoyable sport.  He offers his analogy to refer to the kind of physical pain and torture an actor has to go through in order to do those macho roles involving what is light-heartedly referred to as Bollywood style dishum-dishum, which many youngsters think is a lot of fun.  But describing the gruesome battering the body takes to prepare for, rehearse, and enact those roles for the camera, Salman is in fact de-glamorizing the entire exercise.  He describes the vulnerabilities of screen heroes in real life and how such situations can even lead to grievous and life threatening injuries, as they did in the case of Amitabh Bachhan on the sets of the blockbuster film Coolie’.

If a man who has been put through the grueling experience described by Salman Khan compares it to the physical battering of a raped woman, the analogy is not so inappropriate as to cause a media uproar especially considering that a majority of rapes don't lead to a Nirbhaya like catastrophe.

True, rape is far more than physical trauma—it’s also a violation of a women's selfhood and dignity whereas Salman is undergoing that grueling predicament voluntarily -- for money, name and fame.  But the seriousness of the occupational hazard should not be undermined just as the occupational risks involved in being a pilot flying and dropping provisions to soldiers based in Siachin can’t be lightly dismissed by saying ‘well, he was paid for the job and chose it voluntarily.” Similarly, no one is dismissive of the risks taken by a mountaineer going up  Everest by saying he is well paid and chose to climb the treacherous peaks for name and fame! Remember what a tsunami of national sympathy flowed for Bachhan when he nearly died during the dishum dishum sequence of Coolie!

Moreover, analogies -- whether negative or positive -- are not meant to be taken literally.  For instances, if a poet compares the beauty of his beloved to the radiance of a full moon, it doesn't mean the woman has to have a perfectly round, silver blue face which can be taken as a replica of the moon as seen from the earth.  Likewise, when you say someone eats like a pig, it doesn't mean that the man actually eats muck.

While Salman used the rape analogy to describe a life threatening situation during shooting, in fact, the analogy is often used light heartedly to refer to a range of situations, not just by men but also women.  I have heard young female students describe the experience of sitting through the classes of aggressive teachers who act like bullies vis a vis their pupils as "intellectual rape".

Recently, a well known author talked about the "Rape of the Rupee." Environmentalists often use the phrase "Rape of Mother Earth" to describe the the callous manner in which governments, corporates and other vested interests are plundering and vandalizing this planet unmindful of its consequences for future generations.

 Alexander Pope's satirical poem "Rape of the Lock" is till date taught as a literary classic the world over, including in India even though it uses the term "rape" to poke fun at the foibles, vanities and fantasies of 18th century British women.  Had it been a 21st century Indian male who wrote a similar poem using the term "Rape" in a satirical manner, our frenzied feminists would have stopped at nothing short of seeking the death penalty for him!  Even with Salman many of them menacingly declared that a "mere apology" won't do. Who knows with the majestic Women's Commission leading from the front, they might not be satisfied with anything less than castration or life imprisonment for Salman!  Would the NCW dare demand a ban on Alexander Pope's writings? 

Unfortunately, by making a mountain out of a molehill and hyper-ventilating for days on end on prime time television--self appointed thekedars of women's rights have made activist  women a laughing stock of the nation. Those who cry for frivolous reasons have created conditions for serious backlash on women's issues.  As it is there is a great deal of anger and outrage brewing in society over the all too frequent misuse of the draconian anti rape law which lends itself to easy abuse but has failed miserably to provide relief to genuine victims of brutal rapes, leave alone help in curbing the growing frequency of sexual crimes in our society.

However, women who descend on police stations after a failed live-in relationship to allege that the concerned man was raping them for X number of years on promise of marriage have found it easy to get their estranged lover arrested and locked up in jail even before the start of the trial. This is because the anti rape law mandates that the mere allegation by a woman is enough to book someone for rape, no matter how flimsy the charge. How can a man you voluntarily lived in with for three or four years suddenly become a rapist—all because he doesn’t want to tie the knot of matrimony? Women for whom holy matrimony is so important should not risk fashionable live-in relationships whose basic premise is that both partners are free to walk out if things don’t work out.

Remember the false rape charge made on prime time TV shows by a young woman against film director Madhur Bhandarkar—all because he did not yield to her demand for the role of a film heroine. He had to go all the way up to the Supreme Court to get his name cleared.  Imagine the trauma, not just for the man but his entire family including children, of having your name splashed all over the media as a rapist, when you haven’t been guilty of it. 

Sadly enough, it has become fairly common for an increasing number of women to make totally false allegations of rape for the purpose of extortion and blackmail because the ultra feminist law makes it easy to do so without inviting any punishment. As a result a lot of employers have begun to avoid hiring women in their offices especially if it involves direct contact with them during day to day dealings. While the draconian anti rape law has not really come to the rescue of many genuine rape victims, it has brought into play new prejudices and fears against employing women.

Have our zealous feminists—both male and female—ever objected to trivialization of rape law by such unscrupulous women even though it is causing incalculable damage to women’s credibility and dignity? They would cry murder if any attempts were made to build safeguards against easy misuse of such laws even though it has ruined many innocent lives.

The most bizarre part of this entire saga is that most of those who are baying for Salman's blood go hysterical when it comes to government censorship over pornography or even minor cuts in films like Udta Punjab which are replete with the foulest abuses which are highly sexist. They don't want censorship over pornography which is highly demeaning to the female dignity and filled with gross forms of violence on female bodies treating them as virtual sex slaves.

But they support "verbal censorship" of the most tyrannical variety in our daily conversation. Any attempt by state institutions to curb vulgarity, violence is rejected as unwanted ‘moral policing’ and sign of authoritarianism.  But TV anchors and sundry feminists think they have a god given right to impose their moral code and censorship even on casual conversations.

Do they expect public figures to submit advance script of their daily conversation to the Women's Commission or TV anchors? Such verbal policing would make women the new “Unmentionables” of our society even while they would not be ‘Untouchable” as far as violence against them is concerned.

We must say a firm 'No’ to this fake and frivolous manifestation of political correctness which is distorting public discourse and hence distracting attention from serious issues. 

And my sincere advice to Salman Khan, please don’t buckle under the illegitimate pressure NCW is putting on you to apologize publicly for your comments. Dekhna hai zor kitna bazzoye kaatil mein hai! (Lets see how much power this tyrant is capable of exercising)  Best not to yield to such blackmail because once these viragoes taste blood, there is no stopping them. Would be interesting to see if they dare take the matter to court in which case they may well get a sound drubbing for their frivolity so that next time round these zealots will think ten times before going unleashing their fury on soft targets.


At the same time, you have a good case to file a defamation suit against NCW for humiliating, hounding and blackmailing you publicly day after day on prime time TV!


An edited version of this article was published on July 2, 2016 in wire.in (http://thewire.in/48087/why-i-believe-salman-khan-doesnt-owe-anybody-an-apology/).  This is the full version of the same article.




7 comments:

  1. Very well-reasoned, Madhu ji.
    To add another example, there was The Pioneer report of TMC goons kicking a pregnant woman in the abdomen, resulting in a miscarriage. I sent that report to the NCW for suo motu action. Silence.

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  2. Very well thought out and brilliantly written article. And still I must say I don't completely agree with the point on pornography. I am sure, the not so violent and very romantic forms of it help many a men suffering loneliness due to feminist laws and misandry in society to keep their biological urges in control for the good of society, consequently women. Though I must also add here that violent forms of dehumanizes women as well as men in some cases. Child pornography is absolute NO, because of the lack of consent (or its admission), and rightly so.

    I apologize for taking time to write on the unimportant subject while I wanted to write my appreciation for everything else you have written on the worthy subject with which I can agree completely.

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  3. You think, analyse and write so well!
    Many good points, and pointers this article has. Especially noteworthy is the lack of sense and duty on the part of NCW and TV folks to actually do something about actually happening rapes, degrading and abusing women of all age, spreading pornography and cheap lifestyle.
    Thanking you,

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  4. Nice article

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  5. Indraneel Mallik3 July 2016 at 23:50

    Madhu Kishwar addresses the issue so objectively, so logically, and so much in synchronisation with everything else involving it; making a fantastic read of a banal incident.

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  6. Excellent article Madhuji.

    Feminists just want to use the imagery of rape to gain more power.
    Via UN, Western Governments demand that women have all kinds of protection, but

    1) even men by and large dont have those protections. for e.g we men are also careful about going out late at night or going to remote places. ~90% of all victims of crime are men. We accept the risks, partly because thats what societies and our families demand of men. I have heard women taunt men to "wear bangles" if men dont adhere to their gender role of provision and protection of families.

    2) The West is able to afford all kinds of protection because they are very prosperous and can afford vast freeways, cars, 911, guns, etc. How can 3rd world Nations provide protections without these resources?
    Why is the West demanding that we have these protections for women, when they have not even apologized for 2 centuries of colonial plunder and genocide? Let alone any talk of any reparations. And yet we are supposed to answer to the West, via our accursed feminists?

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  7. This is ridiculous. There is nothing to be 'moved' by the remarks. They are demeaning to Women. Full stop.
    However justified the criticism of NCW may be (and I agree it is), to glorify what at best can be called as a 'spoiled brat' with many criminal cases (and suspected links with underworld) is like the medicine being more lethal than the original disease. This is as hypocritical as the demand not to hang Yakub Memon, under the garb of glorified campaign for cancelling capital punishment, was.
    The issue is right, but the icon has gone terribly wrong.
    And what are we achieving by glorifying such persons? What good is it going to do the society in the long run?
    NCW may not have the moral authority, but the society definitely deserves an unconditional apology.
    The so called celebrities can't get away with anything and everything, just because they are celebrities or favorites of the powers that be.

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