A Delhi-based Youtube “prankster“ who goes by the name of ‘Crazy Sumit’ decided to gain his moments of internet fame by filming a video featuring him running up to unsuspecting women on the street, kissing them, and running away. His plan worked, and the video did go viral on social media. However, it also faced a lot of flak (thankfully!) for the flagrant sexual harassment on display. (What it didn’t face flak for was the casual ableist slur ‘crazy’ in his username.)
Videos like this are all-too-common on the great inter-web, where men decide that it is funny to film themselves sexually assaulting women or as they call it, carry out ‘harmless pranks’. Sumit too claims to have been influenced by several such videos on the internet, motivating him to go out and try his hand at harassment for himself! A couple of his other videos too feature casual sexism on display. In one, he refers to his (fake) girlfriend as ‘moti‘ (fatso). In another, the premise of his prank is actually based on his mother finding out that he’s been rusticated from college because he locked a girl in the bathroom and verbally abused her. I mean, ha ha ha! Isn’t that just hilarious?!
The heavily paparazzi-covered case of Vitalii Seduik assaulting celebrities Gigi Hadid and Kim Kardashian ran similar headlines a few months ago. (Of course in that case, The Sun tabloid initially ran a headline about how Hadid defending herself from this man was ‘Not Model Behaviour’, before quickly amending it to how Hadid was not to be messed with.)
Sumit’s viral video and its public censure brought it to the notice of the Delhi Police Commissioner. He was arrested, but was later released upon his claim that the women he had foisted himself upon were not strangers, but in fact his friends who would receive a part of the monetary earnings from the video. According to him, the women in his video had given consent to be part of this ‘prank’. The police are currently out to verify this claim, dubious as it sounds.
However, even on the very slight possibility that this claim is true, Sumit’s video and its popularity is testament to the mentality of male entitlement, which thinks abrupt sexual propositioning of women is funny. Even if these women did consent to stage this ‘prank’, the video’s immense popularity and viral reach demonstrates how sexual harassment is still seen as a joke and not a serious offence.
It is part of the same mentality that thinks grabbing women by the pussy is mere locker-room banter. It is part of the same mentality that laughs at rape jokes and then shrugs it off saying, “but it’s not like I would actually DO it.” Male entitlement teaches men that women’s bodies are theirs for the taking – to grab, to joke about, to judge, and to kiss abruptly in the name of a prank.
To call Sumit’s act of sexual harassment a ‘prank’ normalises this culture of male entitlement. Let us call him for what he is – a sexual harasser and molester.
Also read: Can We Stop Calling It Eve-Teasing?
Also, it should be noted that as long as these women are potential victims of sexual harassment, it is not only deeply unethical but also illegal to share screen-grabs of the video that clearly display the faces of the women that were potentially sexually assaulted. Section 228A of the IPC states that making the identity of victims of sexual violence (alleged or confirmed) public without consent is a punishable offence.
Sumit has since deleted the video in question. He has also deleted his ‘apology’ video wherein he defended his innocence and honour by stating that ‘even his mother’ has been a part of many of his prank videos. Of course, if one treats one’s ‘maa-behen’ with respect and love, then can one really be accused of sexism? Surely essentialising the women in one’s life to their gendered roles of mother and sister makes one immune to misogyny! Thanks for the memo, Sumit – we’d better go delete this post now.
Also Read: The Language of Association: Maa-Behen
Featured Image Credit: CNN 18