Bachi Karkaria , TNN
Or Kiran next-door? The liberated woman is free to flash any face
There’s a poster in the lifts of our Dosti Flamingoes housing complex. It’s an invitation to ‘Bring out the hairspray, the blue eye-shadow and the press-on nails. Put on your dancing shoes and join the All Ladies Bollywood dance party on March 8′. On the streets, lamp-posts advertise a slimming clinic which tempts you to ‘surprise your husband with your curves this Women’s Day’. But the headlines are about steely Irom Sharmila, and little girls who continue to be raped and murdered as if the verbiage over Nirbhaya is all just empty noise. So what’s the battle for women’s rights really all about?
Yes, i balked at the first two notices. They seemed regressive, especially the one about the curves for hubby-ji. Worse, the ‘o’ in its ‘Women’s Day’ was shaped like the women’s symbol. Surely it was a travesty to deploy it for something that was not just frivolous, but also quite the opposite of what March 8 represents? Hey, babe, you’re supposed to stand up against patriarchal stereotypes, not lie down purring with satisfaction at your sexual slavery.
The poster in our lift could merely be about just a fun evening. But, i couldn’t help a party-pooper thought. Its visuals were from last year’s event, and showed our Dosti ladies in flamingo finery, shaking out a ‘Sheila ki Jawani’ and happily taking on Munni ki badnami. So, the chosen way to celebrate women’s liberation is to plunge into an item number — the same entity currently being blamed for women’s many-fanged humiliations? Interesting.
An even more spoilsport thought surfaced. Wasn’t this amateur kajra-mujra just one thrust removed from another increasingly popular feature of girlie nights — the male stripper, who goes through his suggestive paces to catcalls and vixen-whistles? The women hysterically stuff currency notes into his G-string, and they may or may not stop short at pawing his six-pack. No one in this smart, intelligent, designer bagging audience stops to think that this is the same, denounced demeaning objectification, even if in reversed roles. Surely, with their advantages, they should be able to come up with a more evolved way of asserting equality?
Eek! Do i sound like the secret cousin-sister of Mumbai’s ‘Hockeystick’ Dhoble? A covert member of Mangalore‘s Hindu Jagran Vedike? Subhash Padil, leader of its goons who barged into a homestay last July and beat up the young men and women celebrating a birthday, had swaggered later, “I have no remorse â€¦Do you know what they were up to? They were drinking beer, and you know what that leads to?…Going to parties and drinking and smoking…Is that any way to celebrate a birthday? It is because of our actions that the girls there were saved from being dishonoured.” Righttt! Slapping, manhandling and ripping their clothes is the morally acceptable way to rescue women from certain shame.
So, amidst the righteous hyperventilation which marks March 8, perhaps it would be helpful to find some quiet time to ask if there is a right or wrong kind of liberation. To realise that women, long-time victims in primeval power assertions, are again the first casualties of today’s ‘clash of civilisations’: between ‘traditional’ values and liberalised aspirations. That freedom, by its very definition, cannot be chained to someone else’s notions of correctness.
In the age of post-post Lib, being seriously sexy is as legit as being seriously activist. Women are free to choose between being a Malaika Arora or a Mallika Sarabhai. Or neither. They can choose to be a homemaker instead of a power-babe. Or be able to without apology. We shouldn’t let the neo-dictatorship of the feminists become as bruising as that of the old Big Daddies.
Alec Smart said: “In Modi’s ‘Love Story’, ‘Shove means never having to say you’re sorry
- Irom sharmila will not Adopt a Reconciliatory Position until the # AFSPA Is Repealed #Vaw (kractivist.wordpress.com)