CHENNAI : There are many things that are making me angry this week, and one of them is being told that anger isn’t the right emotion for a woman to feel. Obviously that remark did not help, and anger continues to be the ‘emotion of the week’ thanks to the many things happening around us. First, the very many ‘empowering’ bills in the Parliament. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 that criminalises Triple Talaq has been passed — whether this will actually ‘correct the historic wrong done to Muslim women’ or not, it most certainly is a milestone in being a law created to ‘discipline’ an already dangerously marginalised community in today’s India.
Not ‘Wah, historic’, but ‘Bah, humbug!’. And then in news of more upcoming ‘empowerment’ is the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ bill aka the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 , which has been rehashed from its former protest-worthy version. To add to this, there is the trolling a woman who needed sanitary napkins on a train was subject to, two queer women being ousted from Slate, a high-end pub in Chennai, and the usually glossed over subject of sexual assault that has taken a life-threatening turn in the Unnao case.
Because I am neither a veera-thamizhachi invested in one husband and a city to burn down or a woman with five husbands baying for blood as revenge, I will have to tie up my hair and channelise my anger into dreaming up the impossible — fully legal (pun intended). There must be, I think, an amendment to the cyber laws of the country that penalises social media insensitivity by immediately bringing down followers to zero.
That way, rightwing stooges like Shefali Vaidya will have to think before they type or before drawing an analogy between the need for a sanitary napkin and a condom. As we now justifying the use of science conferences to insist that religion has already said and done it all, we could bring back the Garuda Puranam to think of real grotesque, Anniyan- ish ways of punishing homophobia, moralism, and ignorance of a law that has decriminalised homosexuality nearly a year ago.
Surely those who can spend heavily on drinks, and splurge-take selfies can be expected to use their Uber smart phones in actual smart ways? For sexual violence, assault, harassment and misconduct we need more than my anger and imagination. There are institutions that enable the patriarchy by putting harassers on panels first, giving them pagespace next and insist that none of this is in their control while these predatory men make it to picture-frames hung in every hallway, remaining unstoppable till they are prayed to and it’s too late then.
There are reality show participants who sheepishly volunteer information about having been a harasser to too many laughs, and a diplomatic (read wannabe politician) host cashing in on notat- all-comic moment with a dialogue from his own movie to an applause too loud. The greatest of all is the irony of living in a country that delivers ‘fasttruck’ for the demand of ‘fasttrack’ (courtesy: WhatsApp) and to set this right we need magicians, not members of Parliament or for the still-believers we need the creators themselves to destroy because the creators/carers/keepers of the law are doing it themselves (violating the law/people I mean).
While I am at it, I want a ban on these questions to female actors: 1. Are you a feminist? (We know by now that they don’t know what it means with all the humanist talk) 2. Will you continue to act after marriage? 3. How was it to work with that male star? (Would a male star be asked about working with a heroine, or be pressed to give away never-before- revealed information about a co-star to ‘please fans’?). Can I throw in a wish to have a restraining order on Thala and Thalapthy from competing to make films on women’s issues? We definitely don’t need them to blow the whistle or fight the case for women empowerment; nor do we want the visual doom to take over the real world.
Not now, in the bright phase of women-centric cinema when the cause can be championed by the Amalas, Jyothikas, and Charanyas. And because I have stored up so much veri in me — all the aforesaid anger, visions of violence, and predictions of death is most certainly proof — can I self-induct myself into both Thala’s and Thalapathy’s Veriyan Hall of fame? I most certainly qualify.