Kareena Kapoor Khan, whose film Veere Di Wedding is about to release soon, was asked whether she is feminist. In a tiresome and clichéd routine, she explained how she believes in equal rights but is not a feminist. She felt the need to add, for some reason, that she is proud to be the wife of the Nawab of Eugenics, Saif Ali Khan.
This cute little ignorant conversation has happened so many times, with so many Indian and international celebrities, that it’s exhausting. Many people on Twitter took it upon themselves to correct Kareena and mock her lack of understanding about feminism. While good jokes are never a waste, let me ask you this: do we really need actresses to say they are feminists?
It’s easy to say you believe in equality. It sounds good, you please everyone and everyone likes you. But the moment you say you’re a feminist – you’re alienating the stopwhiningpatriarchyisharmless-ers, whydoyouonlytalkaboutwomen-ers and the butwhatabout-ers, who make up a large portion of the population. Let’s be honest, feminists are not enough to fill up multiplexes and send movies to the ‘100-crore club’.
In order to survive in an industry like Bollywood, one is compelled to participate in the celebration of misogyny.
While Bollywood does make films with better female characters nowadays, it’s still largely a group of close-knit self-serving caste Punjabis. For every Queen or English Vinglish, there will be ten other movies where an aged hero ends up with a young woman after his ego is massaged with villain-bashing and item-numbers.
Asking whether an actress is feminist is a futile exercise. In order to survive in an industry like Bollywood, one is compelled to participate in the celebration of misogyny. Actors like Anushka Sharma and Kangna Ranaut have only recently started talking about the pay gap. The #MeToo movement is nowhere close to touching Bollywood.
Harassment and casting couch are a reality, but women speaking against it fear the loss of their jobs and livelihood. Saroj Khan’s recent statement, “At least, it (film industry) gives you work and doesn’t rape and then abandon you”, is telling of a grave situation where women are somehow trained to be grateful for employment rather than seeing this as a misuse of power.
It’s always nice to hear celebrities talk about feminism and empowerment. But it shouldn’t reach a stage where we idolize anyone who says they’re a feminist and disregard someone who says they aren’t. Creating two opposing camps of ‘people we approve of’ and ‘people we don’t’ benefits no one. Trolling actresses, who don’t identify as feminists, goes against every feminist tendency.
Kareena Kapoor Khan is known for her outspokenness and honesty. She has done many commendable roles in Chameli, Jab We Met, Udta Punjab and so on. She is one of the few women to walk the ramp whilst pregnant. She has been vocal about not wanting to give up on her career just because she is a mother. Clearly, she is empowered and in control of her own life.
The major problem with her argument is that she uses equality as a shield against being called a feminist and in turn, contradicts her own statement. That is never going to stop being annoying.
Trolling actresses, who don’t identify as feminists, goes against every feminist tendency.
Irrespectively, if she chooses not to be a feminist, it’s probably because she isn’t one. She has not done or said anything that will disturb the current power balance in her profession. She benefits from it, and so do her near and dear ones. While celebrity endorsement is great to sell a product, let us remember that feminism is not a product.
It is hard work to analyse, assess and change every single behaviour, pattern and institution that thrives on injustice. It takes a lot of effort and self-reflection, especially when you come from a society as patriarchal as ours.
Women who haven’t bothered to read up the definition of feminism aren’t too keen on it. They’re not feminists and it’s ok. We are feminists. We can rise above and beyond this, and accept and uplift women. Even the non-feminist ones.
Featured Image Source: India Today