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Medusa to Rekha to Rhea — Women are always villains, because raja betas do no wrong

From Rekha being blamed for her husband’s suicide to Uma Khurana’s public beating based on false accusations, Indian women are routinely made into ‘villains’.

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In English Literature, we learn about a certain ‘type’ of female characters, known as the Gorgon-Medusa characters. They are women hated throughout the course of a novel or play for always living an unconventional life, never giving into diktats of men, and somehow offending anyone and everyone who comes their way. Spoiler alert: These women were always killed off, serving as a warning to readers that a woman should always ‘know her place’.

For the past few weeks, we have seen this literary principle play out in real life. In India, crimes against women have become the norm, but actor Rhea Chakraborty’s vilification in the Sushant Singh Rajput case was accompanied by a larger political play in the background. This was heightened by the fact that news channels were baying for her blood.

Her media trial has only reinforced the idea that women always have to be held to a higher standard in Indian society. The sheer number of aspersions made on Chakraborty, from her being a witch who allegedly practices black magic to a drug-peddler, highlights the ordeal women have to go through when embroiled in controversy.

Much has been written about how in Chakraborty’s case, news channels became judge, jury and verdict. Clearly every story needs a villain, and India loves making women the villain. Because our Raja betas do no wrong, and if they do, women obviously made them do it.


Also read: Dear viewer, you supported Rhea Chakraborty’s media trial. Republic TV, Times Now TRPs show


Not the first woman to suffer this fate

Rhea Chakraborty is not the only one who has been subjected to brutal public shaming and widespread condemnation.

Earlier this year, Kerala’s controversial airport gold scam was uncovered, and with it came another female ‘villain’ — Swapna Suresh. The former employee of the UAE consulate in the state’s capital, who is among the four accused booked by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for smuggling 30 kg of gold, could have been criticised for a lot of things. But the attention she received was primarily based on two things: How promiscuous she is, and the way she looks.

Having been photographed with several prominent politicians, the regional Malayalam media implied that she was sleeping with all of them. She was also a divorcee, had straightened hair and wore makeup — the trifecta of the destructive modern woman who uses her sexuality to her own end.

This sort of flak was not extended to the main accused in the case, P.S. Srinath.

Everyone talks about how this country deifies women, but in reality, it is the men who are elevated to a sacred position. They become Laxmana, and the women in their lives are akin to Shurpanakha — depraved and demonic. In Chakraborty’s case, Sushant Singh Rajput has now occupied such an exalted status after his death, while she has become public enemy number one. Neither of them, mind you, had any say in this.

This has happened before. In 1990, just seven months after their wedding, veteran actor Rekha’s husband Mukesh Agarwal died by suicide, and he hung himself with her dupatta. Soon after, Rekha became the target of a widespread hate campaign, and was blamed for her husband’s death. Her character was maligned and she was called ‘The Black Widow’ and a witch.

But perhaps the worse example was the case of Uma Khurana, a government school teacher who was falsely accused of running a prostitution racket. She was mobbed, beaten, and stripped after such reports surfaced.


Also read: Indians find the perfect villain in Rhea Chakraborty. It says more about India than her


When women are reduced to tropes

All these instances are examples of how women get boxed and cramped into negative tropes — the witch, the slut, the homewrecker, the ‘druggie’, the murderer. Public shaming is a rather formidable phenomenon, and for women, it is steeped in misogyny.

This is why a significant section of social media got so triggered when just before Chakraborty was arrested Tuesday, she was photographed wearing a t-shirt with the ditty,“Roses are red, violets are blue, let’s smash patriarchy, me and you”. Oh thou patriarchy of feeble roots! Just a t-shirt was enough to rankle your followers to frothy hatred.

But this article would be incomplete without mentioning how women themselves have acted as foot soldiers in this system of misogyny. From news anchors such as Navika Kumar and Anjana Om Kashyap, to Right-wing individuals such as Shefali Vaidya and Priti Gandhi who is ironically part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mahila Morcha. A fact to note is that all these women are privileged, upper-class and upper-caste women.

At this point, we cannot expect much from men in this country. They’re either shouting their lungs out at 9 pm, or shouting their lungs out in political rallies — no difference really.

But when women join in this vilification and public shaming, there is not much left to be said.

Views are personal.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Right. So, Rhea is the Princess of Goodness, is she?
    Indirectly you are upholding men as the greatest beings on earth.
    Where is your support for women who face domestic abuse daily.
    You are just paid by Uddhav Sarkar to right this trash.
    The Print, you think you write good journalism, but accept the fact that your articles stink.
    NOTE: This is written by a woman.

  2. Madam , we are still in feudal age. Patriarchy will rule for another 1000 years here. No one wants to give up dominance over others. There is struggle even in industrialised societies.

    • V true. But in this case our dirty, stubborn patriarchy has ruined a 28-yr-old life not legally bound to her boyfriend, who is supposedly guilty of one charge of buying a contraband substance. And her moving away from a” position of influence” on him did not prevent his hanging. There were 6-7 whole days to prevent, with only his blood relatives with him. As per media reports, anyway.

  3. No no… no. This is not the topic to raise gender-related issues or in this case patriarchy. No. the late actor may have liked his drugs as the current news goes but his wonderful girlfriend is not exactly the victim that she is being portrayed by those who wish to ‘smash the patriarchy.’ What she did was illegal. Period. Yes, there are likely others who were involved and are not undergoing the same as this girl but that’s because they are rich and powerful. In this scenario, even if a woman were involved, she would not be penalized as long as she was in that elite circle. This is not an ideal situation and everyone guilty must be punished. Sadly, in reality, worldwide, those who are rich and powerful do get away with a lot. That is another discussion all together, but to enforce this gender debate in this already crazy news piece is not only out of context, it reeks of desperation.

    • Where was your concern when Pratyusha Bannerjee committed suicide. Or was it murder ? Who was gold / silver digger there? What was his gender ? Alas,her death didn’t have anything to be politically exploited!

  4. As this article is about unnecessary vilification of women more than men, it is okay. But Rhea’s case doesn’t fall into this category. As she was aware that SSR was under depression, she should never have provided drugs to him. And it seems, SSR was given the drugs by mixing in drinks. Was SSR aware? Why did he than ask Rhea to leave? Why did his ex-lover Ankita, his co-star Kriti Shannon and a few others express so good feelings about SSR? Yes media trial of Rhea was bad, but she cannot be this innocent to arrange drugs for his lover.

  5. This is the second comment I’m trying to post. ThePrint moderator is not so neutral, huh?
    The author is correct. If genders had been reversed in this exact scenario, there wouldn’t have even been a scenario. Rhea has been accused of at least 20 separate charges as a result of media trolls but “booked” by NCB only on one – buying and using cannabis. Every single other charge has irrefutably been found to be unproved and without evidence. What is incredible is that until it was unarguably proved, all these Hindi-speaking Culture warriors/SSR Hero criers were denying/ ignoring signs SSR was struggling mentally long before 2018. After it’s been proved in media trials by monkey press, they’re now denying / ignoring that he bought his own drugs and affected his own mental health too! What chauvinist nonsense. If he was a superstar grown man running his own life, then how is a girl not his wife, not his blood relative, responsible for him? He chose to have her live with him. And if he was indeed mentally weak enough to be influenced, why did his so-worried father not declare him as per the law of the land, claim guardianship, remove drugs from the house, and live there with him, removing Rhea and his drug-pushing staff? His poor sisters had to try and help him despite living their own lives and raising their own children. No, we can’t have it both ways. There is a Mental Health Act. And it very clearly states that the will of the adult individual is inviolate unless that individual is declared insane/ incompetent in a court of law, then assigned a guardian. Only this backwards moral Sanskriti nonsense makes a girlfriend responsible. Bihar has bigger problems than the death of a Bihari who wasn’t even still a Bihari. And who probably would have hurt himself anyway if he was being forced to go back to live in Bye Bye Bihar instead of progressive Bombay Mumbai.
    There, theprint let’s see if you’re balanced enough to print this. Sorry I don’t write in baniya backwards English. Maybe translate this into Bhojpuri. Did SSR even speak Bhojpuri btw?

  6. JAB TAK BIHAR MEIN CHUNAO CHALEGA…TAB TAK SHUSHANT TERA NAAM RAHEGA!! TO TO MARNE KE BAAD HERO BAN GAYA…MODI KO BAHUT JARURI HAI TERA “RAJPUT” VOTE MILNA !! IS GENONE KARBAR MEIN TO TO AMAR HO GAYE SHUSHANT??? “JAI SHREE SUSHANT” !!!!!

  7. Who the hell wants to read your personal views and I don understand who runs this Website,
    Also she has done with drugs ,so she should be behind bars for rest of her life.
    I wonder why you people make it huge cry when someone points a finger on a girl.
    Your tittle itself is so feminine, and why do you think Girls do nothing wrong, and when held responsible you come up with this.
    This website needs to be blocked for biased views.

    • What about Kangana. She said in front of everyone that she was a drug addict. Does not law apply to her So many Sadhus take drugs like opium. Let them be arrested.

  8. What a misleading and disgusting piece of journalism is this. Your bias is clearly evident. Twisting and misrepresenting facts. Today you are on the side of an evil (read gold digger) woman who accepted what she has done after so much PR failed to work. At least think once about your Karma. God is watching you my poor Rachel, how he will take these wrongdoing of hers and yours (by justifying it). Find some other profession for God’s sake if you think this is how you can succeed in this industry.

  9. There is some truth in this reporting but author is trying to overgeneralize the issue. Had Maharashtra government not stood with the accused number 1 , this kind of controversy about Rhea chakraborty would never have arisen. Pick and choose is tactics being used to bring forth a view. This country has suffered more due to such pseudo feminists than male patriarchy. It can also not be guaranteed the article is not sponsored.

  10. Hey Rachel, cut this feminism angle and tell us with complete honesty as to how much were you paid by Rhea’s PR team to write this junk of an article….

  11. People in india cannot even tolerate the word feminism… they equate it to Nazi ! can you believe what they think about feminists if they equate it to genocidal cult!?

    • Feminists are the same as a genocidal cult – they want to enslave and exterminate Men and convert boys into girls.
      They are waging a war on men and forcing society to pay women special rights and privileges just because they are women. So women can accuse any man of rape and jail him without even a hearing…women steal children from men and run to foreign countries..and there is no legal recourse by men.

      Feminism is worse than Nazism – atleast the Nazis did their evil in public.

    • Nothing surprising when they refer to secularism with sickularism. It’s like secularism is some superfluous western concept that India doesn’t need.

      Secularism is the very basic human quality, you can’t go more basic than that, and it has been directly linked to a country’s economic growth, . Then these same people wish to go to the US/Europe because those are better and free societies. When they are there, they demand freedom of religious practices and construction of Mandirs and what not. They also praise how Tinder works so well in western countries where women have got more liberty.

      Hypocrisy runs in our blood.

  12. Stupid generalization it is, Picking random female characters from mythologies out of context. Although, People declaring verdict without waiting for the judiciary system to look into the matter, is really sad and shows how the herd mentality is still prevalent, but same is case for people who have been vocal about supporting someone involved in a crime just because she is a female. This is how you seek gender equality? hating as well as FAVORING anyone just for the sake of his/her gender creates the very imbalance you people are trying to tackle. see the big picture. see the context.

  13. So u absolve her of the drug procurement just bcos someone is someones raja beta.even if the raja beta has done wrong lets assume…how does rheas involvement in drugs become right? How does her arrest by NCB become wrong? How does her procuring drugs 4 a mentally sick person become right? How???

    • Thanks for finally bringing upfront the fact that HE (RAJA BETA) was a mentally sick person!! Surprisingly all this while, this fact has somewhat been camouflaged in her girlfriend’s public shaming!! WHY??? Why is she and only SHE being held responsible for his death!! Nobody is saying that her involvement in the drugs angle is right or should be considered right?? but is that proved!? people are just making obnoxious judgments because she is WOMAN! Had the roles been reversed, could one dare public shaming of MAN like this! Just because the society cannot approve the death of the RAJA BETA as he did no wrong! WOW

    • For everyone’s comfort, let’s agree that Rhea is at fault. As much as I love SSR as a fan, he wasn’t a baby and this could not have been forced Or coaxed to do it. Even then, let’s say it happened this way. More than half of Bollywood is involved with drugs. If I am not wrong, some time ago there was a video doing the rounds on the internet where our A-list celebrities and producers were snorting the snow. Where was your media trial and jumping about against drug peddling then? Or are you only invested because one famous guy is dead and the exact reason may or may not have been the girl who got him the drugs. When I say ‘you’ I don’t refer to one person, but to the judges on the Internet as a whole.
      Moreover how does one justify the way Rhea and her family is being treated? Two of our major actors had been to court over years over possession of guns and killing people while driving drunk. Did the media at any time behave in a similar way with them? Rape threats, demands for hanging, being called ‘witch’ and practitioner of dark magic, etc etc. This is where the disparity lies.
      At a time when India is at one of its worst possible conditions, all some media houses and people care about are this girls whereabouts and stories cooked up about her. If she’s at fault, she’ll get her punishment in due time, but the media trial she’s been getting is uncalled for. Man or woman. But looks like it mostly happens to women, so…

  14. Very rightly written!
    Today very few media channels are left who want to show what is right, rest all the channels are sold out and have sold out their honesty too. They just twist the facts and want to show even what’s wrong as right. But there’s a God above who sees all the wrong that’s happening and one day everyone will have to give an account of all that they did, to Him!

    Bdw Kangana can’t be pitied because she’s the one who comes out every time and shouts and criticizes others and wants to give her opinion in every matter and wants to show that the other side is wrong and only she’s right.

  15. Very rightly written 👍
    Today very few media channels are left who want to show what is right, rest all the channels are sold out and have sold out their honesty too. They just twist the facts and want to show even what’s wrong as right. But there’s a God above who sees all the wrong that’s happening and one day everyone will have to give an account of all that they did, to Him!

    Bdw Kangana can’t be pitied cause she’s the one who comes out everytime and shouts and critizes everyone and wants to give her opinion and wants to show that the other side is wrong and only she’s the one who’s telling right😁

  16. Rubbish.. She’s being subjected to a trial because she HAS committed a Crime.. And Sushant was Killed.. I hope all the editors at The Print are Literate Enough to understand the difference between a Murder and Suicide.

    • Her only crime was buying grass. Not a single other accusation has been proven – that is why we have laws, otherwise we’d be no better thanTaliban/ crazy Sharia societies.. As for SSR, up till unarguable proof came out that he was doing drugs well before 2018, everyone was denying any depression or mental illness. Now the same people are using unarguable proof that he suffered mental illness, to excuse his rampant drug use. This girl is not his wife, not his mother. He was a grown man considered capable of running his own life, including who he chose to live with. I respect his sisters’ pain and rage because they at least tried to help him in life, but not his father’s. If he thought his son was being mentally harassed, why didn’t he file for mental incompetence per the law of the land, and become his guardian? The thing that men can have it both ways but women are either wives or witches is Rubbhish – to use your language.

  17. Only a third rate loser, carrying a chip on her shoulder, with a permanent victim mindset can write garbage like this article. Why don’t you write about Kangana Ranaut for a change? She is an icon, a successful woman who has made it to the top in her chosen industry on her own talent and determination.

  18. Now, whenever there is a debate of right and wrong, these so called equality seeking people make it a matter of male and female and then these so called feminist minds very cleverly sneak in and start one of their old gold method of proving women as always being harassed, oppressed, innocent, easily used, falsely accused, and what not, they play the victim card knowing that super emotional public will easily dive in and flow in that traumatic river of emotions, seeking justice; well this justice always and always demands and seeks women as the one who can never be wrong, never be harmful/ villain/ demonic/ gold digger/ materialistic yet always as a divine godly figure with least power and ability to even save one self from the cruel world ( includes men only) .
    Wow, what an explanation, what a logic.
    If this is feminism than its better to have patriarchy only, because i am unable to locate equality anywhere.

  19. So by your playbook Ma’am, a woman can’t be a criminal. Maybe even the ED thinks the same. They have put Shri Deepak Kochar behind bars and not Smt Chanda Kochar, at least not so far. And Smt Kangana Ranaut is of course a male. She does not qualify for any support from you. She is so “naughty”.

  20. Yet again! Yet again! Yet again!
    The print has left with nothing worth reading.
    Now, whenever there is a debate of right and wrong, these so called equality seeking people make it a matter of male and female and then these so called feminist minds very cleverly sneak in and start one of their old gold method of proving women as always being harassed, oppressed, innocent, easily used, falsely accused, and what not, they play the victim card knowing that super emotional public will easily dive in and flow in that traumatic river of emotions, seeking justice; well this justice always and always demands and seeks women as the one who can never be wrong, never be harmful/ villain/ demonic/ gold digger/ materialistic yet always as a divine godly figure with least power and ability to even save one self from the cruel world ( includes men only) .
    Wow, what an explanation, what a logic.
    If this is feminism than its better to have patriarchy only, because i am unable to locate equality anywhere.

  21. Ahhhh!!! Yet again, yet again, yet again..
    The print has shown it has nothing worth reading left to print….

    Whenever there is debate going about right vs wrong, the nonsensical minds keep it towards male vs female… I mean howw and whyyy, is it that everything has just one factor responsible and thats gender… Come on dude, its not and then the basic foundation of this so called feminism (supposedly – ‘ equality’ ) gets complete ignorance bcz why equality , as feminism is trending believing women as always right, victim, correct, innocent, oppressed, harassed…. WOWWWWWW..

    LIKE SERIOUSLY🙁!!!!!

  22. Oh, such an outcry and sympathy for Rhea then what about Kangana & her being threatened by Shiv Sena.
    What about the deceased and his family don’t they need justice?
    Rhea is taken into custody on the basis of evidence and not on the basis of media trail.
    And women of this country have misused the law more than anyone in recent past and you are talking about the ordeals.
    Hypocrisy at it’s best.

  23. Just want to say Kangana is also beti of India. And this is your point on how everyone is blaming rhea as she is women.

  24. Very Good article hoping to see same kind of article for kangana 2morrow, if no then this article is no more than mere PR for Reha

  25. Bullshit ..I don’t it’s about being a woman or a man ..it’s about what a person is .. what about all the instances where women ill treat older mother in law’s…..women forcing women into dirty businesses….. what about sheena Bora case …it really doesn’t depend on the gender….. It’s about standing by what is right and wrong…kangana ranaut gets security becomes a big issue ….rhea chakraborty walk in and out a police station like she owns it .gets illegal visits to a morgue… Lies openly on national television…still she is a victim ….

  26. SO much for your anger against injustice to “beti” of India. You conveniently missed Kangana. Why no hue and cry for her house demolition, abuses thrown at her. You can’t tolerate any abuses towards a smuggler because she is a woman. but you forget Kangana. Maybe in your world women who lean towards your Ideology are the only ones who are worthy of your sympathy and outrage. Such Hypocrites.

    • Well said Siva Chandan, Ramesh Pawar and Milinf Matang.

      Print is trying to mix&match as well criss cross of issues and make the culprit into a Bharat ki beti. So it’s only male who does wrong.

      There are no female minds behind any crime? How are they so pious. Especially when things like this surface how is the culprit a drug peddler who stole someones money is playing Victim and potrayed as victim by you? She has been into drug dealing since 2017 and in 2018 she met Sushanth for a purpose it was evident then why make her victim and on what basis?

      As my eminant friends mentioned it’s Mother of real victim and sisters of Victim who are also female the real sufferers.

      Hope you really do journalism keeping politics and political motives aside.

      At least in this case!!!

    • Kangana is not to be pitied because she is a pawn who wants to impress her master by blaming and criticizing everyone on the other side! and she just wants to instigate and make others fight!

  27. As is now expected from The Print, this is usual rubbish. Inject feminism into the debate & play the victim card. Get this into your thick head – she is a criminal & is involved in the narcotics trade. Being a female has nothing to do with it.

    • If she is criminal who is involved in the narcotic trade then SSR is even a bigger criminal of taking drugs himself and making others get involved in this narcotic trade!

  28. I sympathise with what has happened to her; but Karen have u ever given a thought to who give birth and raise the raja beta

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