So, Bollywood is abuzz with the stellar performances of Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu in the movie Pink, and rightly so. Although, I felt that the plot wasn’t really new, the strength of dialogues and use of the right punches here and there really did drive home the point. And on that note, I would want to add some of the annotations that I had as well, some of which were inspired from the movie, and some were the things that I was anyway feeling on this subject.
The subject is consent.
We all know how majority of India has lived under the patronage of patriarchy for the last hundred years or so. And, this imbalance of power has been the very first few seeds that has led to the growth of this sort of mentality, where men are placed on a higher pedestal than women. And this is my first point, which is backed up by innumerable examples from educated, modern families, where this practice is proudly continued without ever realizing the harm it is doing to our children. I see mothers-in-law (who are otherwise excellent human beings, well-educated and well-cultured) preferring to feed their sons and husbands hot rotis, while herself eating the leftovers with her daughters-in-law. This is something she does so unknowingly that it’s really difficult to shake off the underlining foundation of this belief system.
Now, once the groundwork of inequality is established, the second point topples over – If men are always at a higher plinth than women, it automatically gives them the mental superiority complex that they can exercise some rights over women. The rights include demanding their wives to cook for them, demanding their mothers to clean for them, expecting any woman they like, to like them back. For men within who’s psyche, this plethora of superiority is instilled even further, they expect every girl they ask for sex to say yes.
After inequality and superiority, the third thing that has been painted is a good girl’s perception. If men have seen women for over hundred years working in the kitchen, eating after they have eaten, wear clothing that covers them fully, they have mentally painted a picture of the perfect woman in their heads that is so hard to erase that they find it difficult to accept today’s evolved women as good girls. So now, when they see girls wearing jeans and skirts (so different from what they have seen their mothers and grandmothers wear), or girls drinking alcohol (something that only men drink in their families while women sit separately talking about pressure cookers and bharta recipes), their brains automatically infer that these girls aren’t good – They are perhaps modern, and easy, and to be treated differently than the “good women” that they have seen.
Our generation, both men and women, are fighting this stereotype every day. Girls fight it by wearing what they want, working where they want, dating who they want and saying no when they want. And boys are definitely supporting this fight by fighting for the girls in question and fighting with the other boys who still have this archaic ideology.
There are a couple of more thought-provoking observations that I’d like to make – When I watched the movie Pink, I was a tad disenchanted with the way Minal (the lead protagonist) was projected while she was on trial. Every time a question was thrown at her, she whimpered and whispered, barely audible to the whole wide world that was listening to her. I know she was humiliated and broken, but, I wish her character was strong enough to loudly tell the world that she was no virgin and why her virginity was irrelevant to her consent.
We don’t need our girls to be weak any more, we don’t want to garner sympathy from a judge when we are on trial, because we don’t need sympathy, we need to be heard.
Loud and clear.
We need to say it as clearly as possible, that virginity, clothing, sex-appeal, friendliness does not lead to consent. Just like Amitabh Bachchan says, No is a sentence in itself and leaves no room for assumptions. And this No is not time sensitive as well, consent can be withdrawn at any point in time (even if earlier given) without consequences.
My last point, and comment would surprise a lot of you. But I need to make it.
Men can say No too.
A lot of men would agree with me here, that, they have had trouble with consent as well.
You’d ask why, and how.
Imagine a scenario where there is this couple, where the girl asks for it and the guy says no. (The reasons may be many but irrelevant anyway – maybe he’s tired or just is not into it at the moment) – The girl gets upset and hurt almost immediately and starts questioning her self-worth in a way as if the world has come crashing down on her. She quickly calms herself down but remains dejected anyway.
Why does this happen?
Because the girl in question has strong rooted beliefs that sex is something that only she consents to – It is something that she is giving – It instantaneously hurts her ego if the guy says no – Although she may not react in a way that calls for molestation or violence, the very fact that her ego is hurt proves that this inequality exists in her mind too – She needs to rid her mind of the fact that indulging in a consensual act is not a favour at her end – It is mutual and it is equal.
Because Boys Can Say No Too.
Because Pink is a great colour to play with – But Consent is what we should be painting our walls with.