On the morning of 28th March, social media was shaken into a frenzy by a video ‘My Choice’, featuring Deepika Padukone. The video was a part of Vogue India’s initiative, to create awareness about the need for women’s rights. It conjured up a storm on social media and received tremendous feedback; a lot of it negative.

Considering some of the derogatory and downright foolish remarks that were made,  I felt there was a need to highlight important factors regarding women, men , empowerment and India.

The need for women’s empowerment has haunted India for generations. The importance of this issue has in no way diminished in the 21st century. Although we have several powerful women influences in India, we are still greatly lacking in our ability to treat women with dignity, and view them through the same lens that we view men. Vogue’s ‘my choice’ video was an initiative in the right direction. Although the video is not free from error, the intent and effort to spread awareness and change mind-sets should have been appreciated, instead people have made a mockery of the video, by creating a number of spoof videos including one that features a DOG!

Because She’s a Woman…

It is important for people to understand, that when they mock initiatives that are aimed at women’s empowerment, they are mocking every woman in this country who has to hide who she really is from the world, for fear of being judged, ridiculed or criticized; Every woman who is abused, ill-treated, denied equal opportunity or made to feel unclean or insignificant; simply because she is a WOMAN!

Women are not awarded the same privileges as men in this country. It is time that people realize it and accept it! Instead of making a mockery of it, they should stand up and show the women in this country that there are people who respect a woman’s choice. To the men and women who made spoof videos in response to the Vogue campaign, I would like to say the following……………

“It is because of people like you that women know they have to shout to be heard. It is because of people like you that women are reluctant to voice their problems or simply their opinions. By making your mock videos you have accomplished nothing much; what you have done only serves to reinforce the belief that many Indian people are incapable of displaying the intellect, maturity or sensitivity it takes to understand the need for women’s empowerment in this country. I hope you will come to see that your videos are a mockery, to every woman in this country. To every unborn female baby who did NOT HAVE A CHOICE, and was killed simply because she was female! Remember that you insulted your mother, sister, wife, girlfriend and friend by suggesting that a woman’s right to choice is something to laugh about.”

Wake up!

Most of the mock videos (if not all) were created by men. Men who assume that women’s empowerment is not their concern. Wake up! The struggle for women’s empowerment does not only apply to feminists. It applies to every Indian mother, daughter, sister and girl child. It applies to every husband, brother, father and boyfriend. The truth is men have privileges. Men have leeway. Men are allowed to speak, behave and dress in ways a woman can’t even dream of inIndia.As a result of this, men are so accustomed to living in a bubble where their behaviour goes unnoticed, that they fail to acknowledge what women experience in this country every day.

Men have the freedom to travel late nights, smoke and drink in public – no one will judge them. They have the freedom to have sex before marriage – No one questions a man’s ‘virtue’. They can have sex outside marriage and no one will ostracize them – their ‘morality’ will not be crushed.

They can open their front door shirtless – no one will bat an eye lid. Men have the freedom to rape their wives – the law protects them…This is the truth….it is the reality that exists in India. It is the reason we need campaigns that create awareness. Fortunately we do have men who acknowledge and respect the need for women’s empowerment. Farhan Akhthar’s MARD initiative is commendable and should be an example to others who have chosen to devote time to making mock videos.

We need Deepika Padukone and Vogue Empower. We need Farhan Akhtar and Alia Bhatt…because we live in a country that has more respect for celebrities, than for social workers. Their voices are heard and people begin to wake up and take notice. At this stage in our country we need that more than ever!

Childish Tantrums

One of the main criticism the ‘My Choice” video received, was with regard to the statement “Sex outside of marriage….my choice” Take a minute and reflect; the creators of the video were not trying to promote adultery. They support a woman’s right to have sex inside or outside the institution of marriage, without being judged. There is a subtext to this video that most people have failed to comprehend. The criticism meted out reveals more about the critiques, than the content or intent of the video. It reveals their lack of tolerance for a woman’s voice and their failure to accept things for the way they really are in this country.

Unfortunately, people who are obsessed with criticizing everything will never be able to make valuable contributions; instead they will stand on the side-lines and throw childish tantrums, which is exactly what all the spoof videos sound like! Grow-up and educate yourself. Stand up for something worthy. If you can’t do that at least don’t mock people who try.

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