Subscribe to FII's WhatsApp

Dear Hrithik Roshan,

Sunday, December 10th, was Human Rights Day. The world came together to stand up for equality, justice and human dignity. As India’s Bollywood superstar, you, Hrithik Roshan, also chimed in with your views on Human Rights.

You used your tweet to address feminism. And the vague tweet attempted to resonate with USA’s Former Secretary of State’s words that are frequently associated with the feminist movement in the west: “Women’s rights are human rights”.

At first glance, it seemed like your words express its solidarity with feminism. I was immediately validated to have worn that t-shirt with your face on it as a little girl the year Kaho Na Pyaar Hai came out. But as well-intentioned you might have been, the tweet actually represents a few problems and hurdles that feminist conversation usually faces.

Let’s refrain from making statements just because they sound cool. Let’s back them up with our actions.

Faux Feminism

It is increasingly becoming harder to make sexist statements and get away with it – especially for those under the public eye. While words are changing, actions remain the same. It is hard to give any weight to your words when you are a part of an industry that churns out content oozing misogyny in huge numbers. Your own movies have frequently promoted the trope of ablaa naari in need of rescuing or have featured two-dimensional female characters, present to appeal to the male gaze.

Until this changes, making statements on gender equality holds no value. Let’s refrain from making statements just because they sound cool. Let’s back them up with our actions.

Show us you are a real feminist, and not a fake one (what I call a ‘fauxminist’). Maybe you could start with playing a supporting character in a female-driven movie? Or refuse to work on scripts which don’t pass the Bechdel Test?

Cis-het male ‘allies’ in Feminism

Your particular words that state feminism “includes men by way of not demanding but commanding equality” implies that men have to command equality. It is unclear for who you are speaking, but we are giving you the benefit of doubt that you are not secretly a men’s rights activist, and are talking about commanding equality for women.

Also Read: The Bollywood Diva Song: Madwomen In Bollywood’s Attic

Yes, there is a whole lot of room for men in the feminist movement – feminism requires a lot of effort and change on behalf of men. But it is important for men to let women speak for themselves, demand their rightful place in society and command their own fate.

A male ally’s job is to use his privilege to listen to and amplify female voices instead of speaking for them. If you want to fight the good fight, put your money where your tweets are and produce movies with upcoming female writers, directors and cinematographers. Retweet female writers and artists.

As a feminist, you surely understand the importance of diverse representation in media. Or when a woman or a member of a marginalized community in the industry comes forward with complains about sexism or nepotism in the industry, use your wider audience to have that uncomfortable conversation. Challenge other men in the industry to drop sexist movie conventions that promote rape culture. That will amount to a lot more change than a tweet.

A male ally’s job is to use his privilege to listen to and amplify female voices instead of speaking for them.

Feminism is a lot more complex than you think

Your tweet also mentions that feminism is about the recognition of an individual’s worth regardless of gender. Yes, that is one of the ultimate goals for feminists. But we are far from that. I wish it was as simple as saying what you tweeted.

We cannot simply jump to not seeing a person’s gender to judge them. Getting to equality is a slow, long, and difficult uphill climb, especially for women. To get there, we all need to recognize the patterns of oppression and power imposed on women, you as well. You need to understand that gender discrimination is very normalized.

So much that you, me and most of the world, miss the signs of sexism in our daily lives. The only way to do that is to listen, to be aware, not be resistant to change and to understand that the issue is a lot bigger than you or anyone else.

For that little girl in me, that wore your face on a t-shirt with joy, watched your suave dance moves and attempted to dance along, and for all the little girls and women inside and outside Bollywood, listen to this humble feminist and promise to use your power and privilege to do more than just drop a vague, half-informed tweet on Human Rights Day. Show us that you really aren’t scared to be a genuine male feminist ally.

Sincerely,

A former fan no longer afraid of being called a feminist

Also Read: A Feminist Reading Of Kaabil


Featured Image Credit: Bollywood Hungama

15 COMMENTS

  1. Playing supporting role in women driven movie? Is that ur idea of equality or female supremacy? Instead of preaching Wat others shud do. Here is way you Feminist shud do.

    1. Condemn Stalking n Harassment by Women like Kangana. Don’t let her misuse the F words to save her own face.

    2. Teach her that No means No applies to her too. And tell her to stop Verbal violence against Hrithik to promote her film’s. That is a sign of weakness. Not empowerment.

    3. Bash her for making unsubstantiated slander against other women like Deepika, Kat, Shabana, Suzanne.

    4. Stop Blame, Shame of Male Victims

    5. Either show Proof or Stop the Harassment

  2. SUCH A LONG STORY …a complicated read not easy to understand what exactly you want to say…are you for feminism or are you against a tweet ..why did you not explain it better

  3. However, I do welcome Hrithik’s statement as he is from an industry where women and men are actually afraid of the word and have demonized the same. Madhuri Dixit, Lisa Haydon, Ranveer Singh. atleast he presented feminism in a positive way.

  4. C’mon guys. Why is there always a need to go deep down with words. He said what he want. You like it, wonderful. You don’t, move on. Simple. Is it really important to complicate up things?

  5. I was surprised how he still supports Feminism despite being maligned by them for no reason. More n More women are actually repulsed by the F word bcoz of its blatant misuse.

    If Feminists want to regain their lost credibility than they shud fight for REAL gender equality. Feminism shud not be used to dehumanize men, armtwist men, villify men, shame men without evidence and to stall Justice. Feminists shud also unequivocally stand up against misuse of women card by some women. .

  6. Matlab kuch bhi kare.. Usko tum log twist and manipulate karke ek open letter likh do.. Likhe toh open letter na likhe tob sexist pig.. Great.. You guys are the real fauximist hurting the works of people who actually work for feminism and its true goals..

  7. Just to grab headlines this author has made issue out of Hrithik ‘s good intention tweet. Now everyone who supports feminism should hide his gender otherwise such people will make article on such issue . Ruchika madam what Hrithik should do is non of your business. It is his choice in which way he want to support the cause. Why you female feel very proud by showing some good and iconic people downgraded, just to get milage out of it ? I have never heard about you in past but this time you are successful in atleast grabbing headline by such useless article.

  8. I am a well educated single working woman..and i don’t demand rights..bec nobody has the power of giving them to me..when I demand something, I give them power over me, I consider them superior to me..and we don’t get things bec we demand it..as its well said in GOT, he is no king who has to say I am the king…we women cannot ask men to help us achieve our goals..we will have do it ourselves..we will study, we will work our asses off, we will train, why won’t we get jobs..do you think people will not hire us bec we are women..no! It’s bec women give silly excuses, they want favours bec they are married and have children, they won’t do night shift bec they are women..if we want equal rights, we have to take equal responsibility..and lastly, films are the last things that anyone cares, but even if they are important, then women should themselves act,direct, write, produce, and act in women oriented movies..and not ask steven Spielberg to make women centric movies and cast women as lead..he doesn’t owe us anything..we owe this to ourselves..next time you write about this, wear a t-shirt with a face of a strong woman, whose whole life was not centred on looking good, applying makeup, getting married to rich man, having children, rearing them, and then giving bullshit feministic lectures..wear someone who worked hard, made every penny on her own, married if she wanted, and didn’t wear bikini to get attention and money….and then go and watch a woman lead movie..

  9. We so need a male celebrity with a questionable history regarding women to mansplain and misinterpret feminism for us. Kuddos on this piece.

Leave a Reply