India and its definition of what constitutes “obscene” has come a long way, from the period of two flower mingling to denote two individual fornicating to the time when “male” actors confidently pose nude in front of the camera and gets applauded by the large audience. But not all of us are this tolerant, pretty much evident in the nude photoshoot row of Ranveer Singh who landed a case against himself on the charge of outraging the modesty of women with his obscene photoshoot and even had a cloth collection drive organised in his service by an Indore NGO.
Its not just the first time that any expression of one’s own sexuality, affection or one’s comfort with their own body has been criminalized or highly debated about. The famous case of Shilpa Shetty of getting kissed in a public event and then have a protest against it leading to number of court cases, or Deepika Padukone golden low cut chest dress which she wore for her Hollywood film promotion was widely broadcasted in every news channel debating about how she was uncomfortable and kept adjusting it from the chest area which made the audience gasp, some in shock and some in excitement. What is it that says about us? How impatiently and forcefully we are trying to catchup with the west and its level of exposure? Or is it just about our intolerance and unacceptance for what is regarded a “western influence”.
With every national wide coverage of these petty little incidents, what became obvious was the collective imagination of an ideal women. With Ranveer Singh’s nude photo’s it is claimed that women’s modesty was outraged. How exactly? Because a naked man commercializing his pictures sent woman to her world of whims and fancies and gave her sexual desires that the society forbids her to have, or because how culturally instilled notion of “sanksari ladki” which doesn’t allow a woman outside the little box of thoughts, came under attack.
Even in the case of Shilpa Shetty getting forcefully kissed in front of the whole crowd who hooted to this abnormal display of affection, and later blamed Shilpa Shetty for allowing the man to kiss her, and Deepika Padukone who was ridiculed and humiliated in news channels which continuously magnified on her chest area to show how she was uncomfortable in a dress she must not have worn, all of it upheld women who were punished for being nonchalant, which caused annoyance to people because it isn’t what they expect women to be.
Most people call out the bad influence of the western culture that has infiltrated the minds of women, that has made them think that other than the path that has been culturally set up for them, they can make their own. But is it a western influence? Or is it just the women claiming what is rightfully theirs. In the recent times, there has been an upsurge in subtle and the most varied form of protest in different rural areas of country, no shouting of slogans, no disruption to any public functioning and no mass assembly, it was just about a woman discarding her salwar-suit and opting for blue jeans, by which she disregarded her household teaching, her cultural norms and just decided to opt for what she considered to be her way of achieving modernity. There is no protest without any consequence, same was for Neha Paswan, a 17-year-old living in a small village in Uttar Pradesh who was thrashed and hanged from the bridge just for making a clothing choice. The position of women in our society is way too ambiguous, we are blamed, killed, protested against and even criminalized for our actions and also for our inactions, and all of it comes in the name of protection that is extended to all the other women who don’t get influenced by this one outcast. It is the lesson we are expected to learn throughout our lifetime.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Brief Bulletin.