Swara Bhasker claims that feminists also fight for men.


Swara Bhasker claims that feminists also fight for men.


The internet has not been kind to women in the last few weeks. A defamation case brought by actor Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard was heard in a US court. It was oddly live-streamed and ingested by the public as reality television, prompting a flood of online support for Depp from his supporters, while memes, videos, and hashtags criticising and vilifying Heard as a crazy liar and a gold digger quickly followed.

Death threats were also common on social media, as was enthusiastic celebration and parody of Heard's treatment in what felt like a mediaeval witch-hunt. Regrettably, the jurors had internet access during the trial. They found that both Depp and Heard had been defamed, but that Depp should receive significantly more compensation than Heard in a peculiar decision.

Back in India, the Delhi High Court handed down a divided decision in the marital rape case, and Justice Hari Shankar issued an order that seemed to imply that husbands might, sort of, have the right to force sex on their wives! Feminists discussed and criticised this, while others explained it away.

However, the treatment of Indian women in public discourse reached a new low when a firm launched advertising for their deodorant, Layer'r Shot, that included gangrape jokes! "Should we take a shot?" and "Did you take a shot?" are two adverts that depict a bunch of boys approaching a single girl in a frightening manner and asking one another with swag, "Should we take a shot?" and "Did you take a shot?" "Now it's my time." The girl appears to be terrified, but the humour is that the lads are referring to the deodorant in the shot. The ministry of information and broadcasting ordered YouTube and Twitter to remove the commercial after widespread outrage, but unanswered questions remain.

How could anyone in the creative industry, indeed, any sane person, believe that this was a script or idea that should be approved? Advertising isn't created by a single person. Many different companies' teams are involved. A gangrape joke was conceived and written, then greenlit, cast, produced, shot, and broadcast for public consumption. And not one of the at least 50 adults who worked on this ad thought it was improper, tone-deaf, and downright criminal?

I'm starting to feel like I'm banging the same drum in these pieces every two weeks, asking the same question about our society: what have we become? How did we end up here? Who are we, exactly?

I feel like a scratched record playing the same old song over and over. It's just helpless rage, really. Every incident I've given isn't just an example of how women are abused, raped, or denied their humanity on a regular basis; it also demonstrates how dehumanised we are as a society to be completely blind to sexual assault, abuse, and gender violence. Rape culture is defined as one in which normalised and dominant social attitudes and collective consensus trivialises or worse, "un-sees" sexual abuse and gender violence.

It is impossible to be unaffected by a society and a globe rooted in centuries of patriarchy. Men, too, are victims of rampant rape cultures, as evidenced by the reported savage custodial rape and torture of a Muslim man wrongly accused of cow slaughter in Uttar Pradesh's Badaun.

Throughout history, rape has been employed as a weapon of war, and 'bad' women have been raped to teach them a lesson. Men, too, have fallen prey to this mentality. Male prisoners have been raped and sexually assaulted in prisons all around the world. Our unwillingness to ratify 'The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the "Torture Convention"),' as enacted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1984, reflects a frightening reality.

So the next time a man says, "Oh, these feminists are always moaning!" remember this. Please inform them that we are also filing a complaint on your behalf!

Previous Post Next Post