Boycott Roadies was trending on Twitter in India a few days back, but not for the reasons one would expect (the stupidity, the shouting, the “tu banega Roadie” being the few). This time, it was to call out pseudo-feminism by the only female judge on the show, Neha Dhupia. At best, it was a moment not well-thought through. At worst, it dents the whole feminism movement.
A contestant on the immensely popular reality show MTV Roadies declared that he slapped his girlfriend after finding out that she cheated on him with five other men. Any sort of violence, especially against women, sparks anger. And this is exactly how the judges reacted. Dhupia, who looked visibly cross and rightfully so, began shouting at him (in true Roadies style). Her anger propelled her to a point where she even justified what the contestant’s girlfriend did. “It’s her choice”, were her exact words. And that is where Dhupia lost me.
The misuse of this phrase cannot be exaggerated. While it is a woman’s choice to do as she wishes, disloyalty never earns a pat on the back, but nor should it earn a slap on the face.
Same deed, different reaction
As this conversation began taking over Twitter, videos of Dhupia applauding a female contestant for doing exactly what the male contestant mentioned above also surfaced. Dhupia’s reaction, along with every other judge’s, was the polar opposite.
The stark contrast in the two reactions brings to light how the feminism movement is being misunderstood, and by consequence, mis-preached by many. The fight is not for a woman to be able to slap a man and get away with it, while a man is ostracised for doing the same. The fight is for equality.
Feminism, by definition
The Oxford dictionary defines feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” While a ‘pseudo-feminist’ is “a person that claims to be a feminist yet ignores the main point of feminism, equality.” Since equality of the sexes has made a debut in common discourse, the term ‘feminism’ has earned a bad reputation. To the point where big celebrities with influential clout like Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson and Madonna, have run away from the term like it’s the plague.
Feminism is not about misandry or male-bashing. That is pseudo-feminism. It is important for the movement, in the larger picture, to constantly call out those who are guilty of mixing the two. And that is what happened with Neha Dhupia.
In a time where most Bollywood celebrities have remained mum on any issue that may derive backlash, Dhupia has repeatedly made her stance on feminism clear. She has a platform where she chooses to speak about women empowerment, which makes it much more important that she thinks before she speaks. People don’t wait for half-a-second before writing someone off for one mistake. And that is the benefit of doubt I would like to give her. Along with a message that she really should be doing a better job of using the platform she has because like it or not, too many people watch Roadies.