If irony was a person, right about now, she'd have locked herself up in a room and thrown the key into the ocean.
Why, you ask?
Because Randeep Hooda has taken it upon himself to rescue women from the evil clutches of this duniya's choti soch. Actually no, that is an unfair thing to say, the good folk at MTV, the creators of enriching cultural gems such as the many, many seasons of Splitsvilla and Roadies, have entrusted him with this monumental task. It is true, some jodis really are made in heaven. If this isn't a celestial pairing, I don't know what is.
Who can be a better choice for the job of decoder of women's feelings than a man who took weeks to understand that young women who have lost a parent to war are perfectly capable of expressing their thoughts on war?
MTV and Randeep Hooda will save women through a show called Big F #ForbiddenNoMore. I have to admit, the first I heard of it was when MTV took out full page ads in Delhi, Bangalore and Bombay Times announcing its return, on International Women's Day, no less. Apparently, the show is already on to its second scintillating season. It wouldn't be fair to comment on the show and its content considering I haven't seen even a minute of it. But there are some very interesting things to be observed from its very dramatic ad.
It screams the words, "Orgasms don't have a gender" with Hooda, bursting with intense man-fulness, in the background. It then goes on to inform us that "stories featuring women's dreams and desires" will be seen on the show.
Because who can be a better choice for the job of spokesperson and decoder of women's finer feelings than a man who took days to understand that young women who have lost a parent to war are perfectly capable of formulating and expressing their thoughts on war. A man who happily mocked Gurmehar Kaur alongside abusive trolls and then when it was convenient, dismissed her as an easily corruptible political pawn. Hooda can claim he didn't use abusive language or explicitly egg on trolls, but he was audience to the episode that unfolded and then went ahead to mock Kaur, and not condemn the language of violence being used against her first. Never mind that apart from being a classic example of too little too late, Hooda's grudging apology hed all the grace of a sulking schoolboy.
A couple of days before the ad, MTV released this promo. And yesterday, it caught my eye. Take a look.
"Any voice that tries to bring about a change is swiftly silenced"
I repeat, any voice that tries to bring about a change is swiftly silenced.
It baffles me that Hooda was able to mouth these words with a straight face in light of recent events. Or worse still, considering how programming works in television, he mouthed all these lines and later when the Gurmehar Kaur episode unfolded, he went ahead and shared that sad 'joke' on Kaur. He even went on to cry victim, saying 'don't hang me' for cracking a joke. Either he didn't understand a word of what he was saying or he didn't just care. The latter is easy to do with a hefty paycheque.
MTV was stuck with this unmasking of Hooda and probably hoped, like all things internet, people will forget about Hooda's latest social media misadventures.
Hooda wants us to know that the show will not magically liberate anyone's sister or girlfriend.
You'd think a 30-second ad couldn't possibly contain more nonsense than this. You'd be wrong. It doesn't end there; every successive line only makes you wince and grind your teeth harder.
Hooda wants us to know that the show will not magically liberate anyone's sister or girlfriend. Because what is a woman's identity, if not a sum total of all the men she's related to? Way to insult and infantilise us in one go. Very efficient, Hoodaji.
"All the women around us have always been free. They only need freedom from our choti soch."
Our vaginas don't hold within them adorable little seeds of freedom that bear fruits of empathy, understanding and equality for all.
No Hoodaji, we haven't always been free, no matter how much your over-simplified world view insists so. You might not know this, but our vaginas don't hold within them adorable little seeds of freedom that bear fruits of empathy, understanding and equality for all. It is all learned behaviour. And it takes years and years of relentless examination of our biases, privileges and personal shortcomings to be able to arrive there.
Some women, due to the advantages of their birth or education, get there faster. Some are stuck behind. And many haven't even started their journeys yet. So no, please don't patronise women by telling us that behen, you're sorted because of the magical properties of your vaginas.
When we externalise the problem and call it a fault of our sex, we distance ourselves from it, and absolve ourselves of our individual responsibility.
This might sound like nitpicking and make many people wonder in frustration, "What do these crabby feminists want from us? We're admitting na that we're the problem. Aur kya karein?" But that's not enough. When we externalise the problem and call it a fault of our sex, we distance ourselves from it, and absolve ourselves of the responsibility of the individual part we played in exacerbating the problem. When the society at large is at fault, we aren't.
So no Hoodaji and MTV, we don't need another glib, feel-good show to tell us we're free, while you pat yourselves on the back for being so socially conscious. If you really want to stick up for the cause, confront your own uncomfortable truths, and lies, instead. For most of us, each inch of freedom comes with a hefty price tag, we know where we stand and where we're heading, thank you very much.