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.

Left to Right: Neha Dhupia, Karan
Image Source: Ichowk

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”.

Also read: Here Are The 6 Most Absurd Tweets Trolling Sushma Swaraj

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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.

Neha Dhupia’s statement after two weeks of trolling

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.

Eminent Journalist, Barkha Dutt tweets in support of Neha Dhupia

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.

Also read: It’s Time Women Journalists Stop Facing Online Abuse | #DigitalHifazat

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

About the author(s)

Ananya Chhaochharia is a political junkie, teacher and intersectional feminist. When she isn't getting high planning electoral campaigns for political parties, she runs operations for a non-partisan youth organization in public leadership. Dismayed by the abeyance in information related to menstruation in rural India she founded Paint It Red, an organization that aims to empower women through knowledge.

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  1. People in a committed relationship have some moral obligations that they need to stand by. Not cheating is one. What Neha Dhupia said about physical violence is a valid stance but what she said about cheating is clearly wrong and i am further confused by why she said in her statement that cheating isn’t something she likes. If two people are in an exclusive committed relationship, cheating is neither moral nor is it a choice they have the right to make, whether they are a man or a woman. People should reserve the right to leave a relationship or present their own terms of the relationship, like if someone wants a polyamourous or an open one, but you shouldn’t secretly having relationships with other people. If you do have that the person you’ve cheated on obviously doesn’t have the right to abuse you or keep you, but it doesn’t make sense to frame cheating as a valid choice. The word itself implies it’s a morally wrong choice.

  2. By supporting Neha’s statement you are not doing yourselves any favour. This biased support is not going to help this movement against male domination. In fact it will probably put off a lot of level headed males and females that strive for equality. Your use of the term Bigot is also ironic. Neha’s abuses and anger against that guy is completely valid. But why condone what the girl has done? All she had to do was put some sense into the guy saying that physical abuse is never an option. But nope, she had to overact stupidly. Even if we consider her point about the guy not being able to satisfy her needs, why not breakup?
    Want to have multiple partners? Why not. Get into an open relationship. Make sure everyone involved knows your status. Don’t want to tell them? Fair Enough, keep no strings attached. But if you’re committing exclusivity and going around sleeping with others that’s a problem. This is the whole point of the argument and I am glad a lot of girls I know see it for what it is. Do not support Neha just for the sake of supporting a woman. The woman must at the very least make some sense in order for you to support her, that too on a site like this. There’s no one stopping anyone from having multiple partners. Be it India or any other country, it all boils down to not giving a fuck about what others think about you. Once you are past the judgement you are free to do anything you want. And that is exactly what we need, more people being open about it. Thats how you change the mindset amongst masses. I have personally seen girls calling other girls who are sexually active a slut, which is a shame. It’s honestly very sad that Indian women are having to look up to people like Neha Dhupia and other famous figures who are supporting Neha who have never really stood up for any sort of women rights in India. I’m talking about the real issues, some of which you have mentioned in this article. No matter how much you hate the term, but pseudoism exists. India probably needs someone like Emma Watson. India desperately needs a strong figure to lead the real feminist movement.

  3. Violence should never be acceptable, at the same time men should learn to be mature enough to defend themselves emotionally when being cheated. For emotionally mature men, violence is a sign of weakness.

    Committed women too have no right to slap their boyfriends, but Neha seemed to show support this somehow when a girl contestant said “Maine 4 ladkon ko thappad mara hai”, hence all the trolling and hypocrisy. In fact men should learn from feminism, which started #metoo and taught us how to fight like a girl and the method can be used to weed out the toxic women too.

    In my opinion, the committed partners who are the actual and initial victims of emotionally abusive non-committed partners (be it men or women), should learn to fight in a more mature way and start a movement similar to #metoo or #timesup instead or resorting to violence. Resorting to violence simply turns the table and now the victim becomes the monster.

    The best thing the roadies contestant could have done would be to call out the girl’s behavior in public and social media, inform all her boyfriends, common friends and family to be cautious of such selfish people, just as #metoo movement successfully revealed the deviants among men.

    Public naming and shaming of non-committed cheaters of both gender can ensure that they don’t get their way easy by inflicting emotional violence. If cheaters of any gender get a free lease in the name of liberty, it is the committed people who suffer on both the sides.

    PS: I have no objection to open relationship when partners are honest about it. It is when you expect commitment from the other but not willing to raise beyond your own hormonal urges, irrespective of gender that’s immoral and not “liberation or empowerment”.

  4. Well, your profile says you are a feminist…so, I am not surprised that you will take Neha Dhupia’s side comes as no surprise to me. And to call the people , who are questioning Neha Dhupia’s stance as “bigoted men” with “toxic masculinity” clearly shows what kind of “toxic feminism” you are spreading. It’s “our choice” to criticise or not criticise her.

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