Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Choice: Too Facile

Before you proceed to read my rant here, let me reiterate that I don't intend to hurt your sentiments.


Since the time I started to blog, I always drew immense pleasure from writing about animals, and gender equality. I have almost stopped exploring the latter these days, for the theme is quite misunderstood, carelessly discussed, and I have also become a bit ambivalent about some views. But, I chose to write a quick blog because I watched the video - Vogue's My Choice, starring Deepika Padukone and 98 more women.

Okay, the video seems stylish. 99 women appear in less than three minutes. But, I only remember how Padukone looks, because she keeps appearing often, with her hair that has a life of its own. There are a couple of old ladies and tribal women, whose inclusion looks evidently staged. And, like Chandrima Pal mentioned in her piece, the video can very well pass as an advert for shampoo or sanitary napkins. Not that the adverts are well- thought-out lately, but the video appears facile.

So, why was Padukone chosen to lead? I understand that a Bollywood celebrity has volunteered for what is billed as a cause. Quite welcoming. But, what is the significance really? Why should I feel motivated when she tells me that I am empowered, and that I can make my own choices? What is her story? If she has one, is that inspiring? Why is she removing her clothes? Sorry, if I am getting too cynical here, but there seems to be a spike in the number of mediocre videos going viral on social media, and I really don't understand why most of it are widely shared.

I don't know who wrote that monologue which Padukone renders, but I have too many problems with the writing. A video funded by Vogue tells me that it's okay to be size 15. How many fashion magazines carry photos of obese women as cover pictures? And, don't they give tips to achieve hour-glass figure? How hypocritical is that!

The writing sounds superficial, and self-important at several junctures, and Padukone's tone is accusatory, making her sound misandrist. Sample these lines:

To have sex before marriage... and sex outside marriage 
To love temporarily... or to lust forever
I mean, marriage involves two people right? But, is it okay to act all for myself and not think of my significant other, just because it's my choice? Doesn't the understanding emerge through dialogues? Just because I choose to have sex outside marriage, I certainly don't become free-spirited and strong-willed.

Remember, you are my choice... I am not your privilege
The second part makes sense. I agree. But what does the first part mean? I am my partner's choice too right, if that's the case? What does one try to imply with such confounding writing that seems extraordinary to so many?

Remember the bindi on my forehead, the ring on my finger, adding your surname to my name, they are all ornaments. They can be replaced, my love for you cannot. So treasure that.
In the beginning, she says it's her choice to love temporarily. And in a little while, she says her love cannot be replaced. So contradicting! It sounds like an inebriated, confused person, purging out negative emotions that are bottled up.

It even seems superfluous to mention that gender equality issues have to be addressed at micro-levels, and not just by releasing some sloppily made videos. More than the pseudo-feminist videos and stories that are shared these days, a few films of K Balachander and Visu explored gender equality quite impressively. They didn't need a pretty-looking Padukone, a fancy camera, and some flawed philosophy (I'm the universe...) to narrate stories from women's perspectives. A naive housewife, a confused lover, a battered nurse... they all could tell us what women needed. More precisely, their stories championed individualism. The women in such stories didn't really go tom-tomming about their lame choices all right. Please!

End of rant. It's time to watch a cat video. Thank you. :)

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