Let’s admit it, all of us at some stage have found Roadies, an MTV reality game show, to be our pet peeve. A fundamental part of enjoying this youth show was to find cheap thrills in the judges roasting the contestants who came from various backgrounds and said outrageous things. I returned to watching Roadies after nearly a decade when the internet erupted over an episode in which Neha Dhupia, a judge on the show, schooled a contestant, Karan, after he arrogantly claimed to have slapped his ex-girlfriend over infidelity.
The episode in question shows host Rannvijay Singh questioning Karan whether he has ever hit a woman. The answer, as read by Rannvijay, said, “I would never, par maine kiya hai (But I have done it).” What ensues is the contestant self-proclaiming his high moral compass of always being loyal followed in quick succession by an explanation of his aggressive outburst at his ex-girlfriend when he had found out that she apparently had five other boyfriends. He claims he got all the men in a room, invited the girl, and then in a moment of angry impulse, slapped her!
The cringe-fest does not end there. He justifies his actions by going on to say that, “Main aur bhi kuch kar sakta” (I could have done something else also). When prompted further, he says he could have abused her or even tainted her reputation before her family. This resulted in an outburst from both Nikhil Chinapa and Neha Dhupia, the judges on the show. The former sarcastically pointed out he claims a moral high ground for slapping her and reiterated that it was in fact not an impulsive decision as he claims. He angrily told Karan to manage his expectations as women had no obligation to deliver to his demands.
Neha Dhupia took it upon herself to scream out the problem to his face. She lividly pointed out that Karan’s ex-girlfriend was not his property and has the right to make a choice for herself. She went on to explain that her need for five partners could very well be due to his inadequacy and based completely on her requirements. It does not validate the right to slap or humiliate a girl. Neha emphatically supported the girl’s right to choose and condemned violence for any reason whatsoever.
Neha Dhupia took it upon herself to scream out the problem to his face. She lividly pointed out that Karan’s ex-girlfriend was not his property and has the right to make a choice for herself. She went on to explain that her need for five partners could very well be due to his inadequacy and based completely on her requirements.
It was obviously not a surprise when shortly after the episode, men’s rights activists, meme pages, and of course, Tanmay Bhatt, took it upon themselves to defend Karan and show Neha Dhupia in a poor light. Netizens, known for not maintaining boundaries, even posted hateful comments on Neha’s daughter’s pictures and posts. Neha’s school of feminism came under the radar wherein trolls called her a “Fake Feminist” and/or “Pseudo Feminist” for supporting the girl’s right to “cheat”.
Several videos from popular vloggers came up calling her attention seeking, morally loose, and bashing on the entire feminist movement. Neha, in fact, released a statement regarding the vitriol that she has been facing after the episode was aired. She spoke of the trauma her family and she faced for her speaking out her mind independently.
For years the ethical yardstick used to measure women has been distorted. Women have to conform to society’s norms to be acceptable. From the virginity myth to choosing multiple partners, a woman has to maintain higher standards than a man. Moral policing vis-a-vis women’s sexuality ranges from the choice of clothes to virginity and sexual drive. Any feminist who is pro-choice will stand up for the rights of women to define their own morality regardless of whether they themselves conform with it or not.
Most importantly, men believe that holding women accountable is their birthright. In the case of the contestant, his blatant arrogance is apparent when even after slapping her, he tried to justify his actions and suggested preposterous alternatives.
Most importantly, men believe that holding women accountable is their birthright. In the case of the contestant, his blatant arrogance is apparent when even after slapping her, he tried to justify his actions and suggested preposterous alternatives. Neha Dhupia’s out-lash in condemning the violent reaction Roadies contestant Karan had towards his former girlfriend also advocated for women’s right to make their own choice – even if that implies having multiple partners.
The incident triggered online abuse and disproportionate trolling. The very backlash is testament to the morality question that feminists have tried to break down for so long. Neha Dhupia, speaking her mind out which was contrary to popular belief, led to her and her entire family through unwarranted mistreatment. As always the ones pointing fingers at Neha for “not knowing” feminism or spoiling the cause are bigoted men who would do anything in their power to use their platform (blogs/blogs/instagram pages) to invalidate the movement and promulgate toxic masculinity.
Fortunately for Neha, the bollywood fraternity stood up to support the actor. Tapsee Pannu, Karan Johar, Sonam Kapoor, Richa Chadha, Konkona Sen Sharma, Nita Kulkarni, Sophie Choudhary, Diya Mirza, Tahira Kashyap, Amrita Arora, Ekta Kapoor, cast and crew of Roadies, and husband Angad Bedi were some amongst those who took to social media to express their solidarity.
Though certain videos which target Neha have already crossed millions of views, the activist actor who was recently seen in a moving role in short film Devi, has stood her ground and defended her statement.
Featured Image Source: Telly Buffs