In September, many especially in South heard the news of Vijay P Nair, a misogynist YouTuber getting beaten up. Supposedly a PhD holder in Clinical Psychology from ‘Global Human Peace University’, he had resorted to YouTube to spread his abundant knowledge. Vijay P Nair had been posting videos bashing feminists and the one that finally managed to gain some traction was a twenty-minute long video titled, ‘Why feminists in India and Kerala do not wear underwear.’
The events that followed brought much media attention in Kerala, because it pushed dubbing artiste Bhagyalakshmi (whom he vilified in the video) and two activists Diya Sana and Sreelaksmi Arackal to arrive at Vijay P Nair’s house in Thiruvananthapuram, pour charcoal oil over him, assault him, and seize his laptop and phone to delete the offensive video.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan applauded and supported the women for their boldness. He even proposed to change or legislate a new law in order to ensure women’s safety online, along with a disproval of taking the law into one’s own hand.
Of course, while we all agree that nobody must take the law into their own hands, what can we do if law enforcers themselves are slow to enforce it for issues like these where someone is so evidently oppressing, and continues to have access to spreading their oppressive ideals further?
The women had filed a complaint with the authorities against Vijay P Nair long before they decided to handle it on their own i.e. this whole issue could have been avoided if prompt action was taken. Now however, there runs a divided opinion on ‘should the women have beaten Vijay P Nair that bad?’ And this is what I have a problem with.
While watching the video, I too sensed some discomfort at seeing another person being attacked. But as viewers can later see, he was still standing, in a condition to speak and apologise to all the women he had offended. Vijay P Nair did not even have to go to the hospital.
Unfortunately, this post-abuse survival is not something that women usually have the luxury of experiencing. This is male privilege. He was still alive and well.
I can’t help but suspect that this discomfort and disapproval seems to have risen out of never witnessing women assume such positions of agency over men. As viewers we are so used to seeing women on the other side–being insulted, abused, humiliated or tortured. Those are the videos we forward on WhatsApp and Facebook and post with trigger warnings on our Instagram stories in an attempt to spread awareness about the atrocities against women.
To see a women actually take charge, raise the alarm and, quite literally, hit back at a man who has been abusing his privilege for far too long, is bound to bring in some discomfort amongst others who–make no mistake-also believe that our feminism lies in our underwear, but they just haven’t got around to making a video out of it yet–because that requires effort.
That’s why it is so important to pay attention to the way women are being represented. From the time I can remember, mainstream media has been pouring charcoal oil over its portrayal of women. They are always seen as helpless creatures who must depend on a man to defend them, or as victims of circumstance, where once the incident occurs, they are broken for a while and then eventually rise up and take charge of the world. We rarely see a positive portrayal of the ‘hot headed’ women- the ones who have already reached their ‘rise up and take charge’ point.
These women are only shown as ‘drama’, a warning to other budding feminist women that this is how their activism mustn’t be–loud, destructive, and noisy. But why the fuck not?
Why can’t we react on the spot? Although every human has primarily two ways to react to fear- fight or flight, it seems to have been divided where fight is for men, and flight for women. If three other men had assaulted Vijay P Nair on behalf of the women, they would have, without any doubt, been lauded by everyone for being a ‘true man’ and ‘supporting our women’, successfully encouraging the savior complex we often give in to.
We need to understand that women have been fighting since the beginning. Women will continue to fight, without seeking assistance, because that is our feminism.
If that bothers you, you may look at your Kitex underwear and move along.
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