When it comes to the case of Sushant Singh Rajput’s unfortunate demise, I’ve maintained a position that the minimum said about it is maximum. There is already so much noise, with televisions shouting in the peak of their voices that I wanted it all to pass and be over with as soon as possible. Not just that I continuously got pissed by non-visibility of drastically low Indian GDP in the media. But with four of India’s biggest agencies already probing into it and the entire media gawking upon its each and every turn, I was already burning enough with the agony of misplaced priorities that I do not intend to comment or even ponder upon it.
But what made me really distressed about the entire episode was the opening up of India’s feudal misogynistic mindset like a pandora box. The witch hunt style coverage of mainstream media, covers less of the case and more of our mindset as society. Each time, when some news channel does Daily/weekly type prejudiced analysis of a sub-judice matter, it shows us a mirror of how gullible we are to fall for that. When Missmalini like tabloids turn into our all-time news and the news of national interest are reduced to a few tabloids, it tells a tale in itself.
However what pained me most was not the declining standard of Indian media alone. I have long left the hope from them to maintain minimum standards of a dignified coverage, let alone have a feminist outlook in their approach. But I was taken by surprise at a section of woke progressive voices who started commenting on it as it was some Kangana-Rhea feud.
While commenting upon how maliciously ugly turn our Indian media has taken, they did not shy away from blaming the Kangana-Rhea feud blatantly for it. Posts like “No Solidarity For stooges” were shared by one section of woke instragramer’s, while other threw down the gauntlet of being “feminist” by daring to speak up for Kangana, and this activity was despised by many.
The last thing I wanted to witness from this mayhem, was it getting reduced from first mental health awareness, then to ills of nepotism, to plausible Bollywood-underworld mafia, to then nakedness of misogynistic Indian media, into a quarrel between two women alone.
There is a Misogynistic slang in Punjabi for the same called “Timmaurh-khana”, which loosely translates into men generally blaming the tongues of women for all the fights between families and neighborhood. Teemiyaa’n translates to women in Punjabi, and for all deep-rooted flawed conditioning of our patriarchal society, and the quarrels which logically follows it, “teemiyaa’n di Zubaan” or tongue of the women are to be blamed. The absolute worst turn of this entire episode is not just misogynistic outlook of mainstream media against Rhea, but also the comments on such a curated quarrel, because it reduces the entire debate of prevalent misogyny into a mere “Timmaurh-Khana”, which it is not.
In an article by Jyoti Yadev titled as “Kangana Ranaut: Journey from ‘Urban Naxal’ to ‘Macho Nationalist’ in Five Years” she eloquently tells how Kangana once was champion of women at the time of release of Tanu weds Manu and Queen. However the avatar we see of her today is a 180-degree U-turn from that. As much as we have forgone her absolutely bold feminist stands, so has she it seems after establishing herself in a secured place from a struggling position.
Though at the same time she also posts a video, where she is in conversation with her father and he asks her to stay away from the mess. She captions it as “how to handle emotional blackmail at home? Who all relate with this scene in my house today ?” Here she is once again imitating the similar stands which she took years back in the London Summit 2015 ‘Women in the World’, where she expresses that “how disgusted she felt as a child, on being raised like a girl while she wanted very dearly to participate in the political debates happening at the dinner table.”
Can’t tell if she knows that firm feminist positions and Hindu nationalism stands doesn’t really go together. How much as it looks like an attempt of appropriation, I would like to urge and request to all progressive feminist voices to not see it as one. Rather it is a classic example of impacts which patriarchal conditioning has on the most vocal and bold of the women out there. In fact seeing this happen with Kangana, should be an opportunity to check ourselves, have we unlearned the patriarchy enough? Or by falling for Kangana pitted against Rhea do we too exhibit that same hypocrisy?
Don’t we unconsciously fall into the despised narrative of women being women’s worst enemy. Here, let me bring in the rhetoric of Nivedita Menon in which she asks “let us consider a different, rarely-asked question: Why are there no battles for power between men”. She argues that “Because their spheres are entirely different. Because the power game between them is not such that increased power for one means reduced power for the other. But women in virilocal households derive their power solely from men. Power struggles between women are inbuilt in this kind of structure, and are inevitable. This is not because they are ‘women’, but because they are put into positions that are pitted against one another”.
Can this example be taken in the case of self-made actresses as well? Can there be a slightest possibility that women in industries even after having capability to sustain themselves still derive power solely through men in industry, media and politics. Thus while commenting on the debate of misogyny, who are to the real blame, the parochial political agenda? The patriarchal media trial? The outburst on “Timaurh-Khana? Or many more women either pitted or to be pitted against one another?