Should We Judge People For Misogynistic Statements Made In Past?
Our actions define us. They project the ideas that have moulded our mindset. Keeping this in mind, is it fair to judge someone on the basis of their past actions? If someone has resorted to making misogynistic comments in their past, how fair is it to hold them accountable today? Recently, a video clip of the Malayalam actress-turned-cooking-show-host, Chitra Shaji Kailas aka Annie went viral and took the social media by storm. The video is from an episode of Annie’s Kitchen featuring actress Sarayu Mohan wherein the two are making highly misogynistic comments. The two are now being trolled for what they said two years back. But is it not possible that their views might have changed over a span of two years? And if that’s true, how does one know for sure that the transformation of perception is real and not just a way to counter the backlash?
In the video, Sarayu says, “I prefer that women stay one step below men,” to which Annie replies, “That is best.” The two then go on to trivialize feminism advocating that we should have equality instead, neglecting the fact that feminism advocates equality more than anything else. Other episodes of the same show are also being put under the microscope as Annie has often made statements that portrayed cooking skills as an essential quality for a Malayali woman to have. She has even stated that a woman must seek her husband’s permission in taking decisions as he is expected to be older and more sensible.
In the era of booming social media, it is quite common to see old clips or pictures doing rounds of the internet and fuelling certain conversations that were not sparked earlier.
The two actresses are under scrutiny and Sarayu issued a public apology for what she said, “I have made a U-turn from the time I repeated words I was taught, that a woman must stay below a man,” she wrote on Monday, adding, “I have come a little ahead in the last two years. With the lessons experience, travel, friendships and life have taught me. With changes, stumbles and getting back up, I’m shaping my own life now.” But to what extent has she changed? Or, is this apology even heartfelt and real, in the first place?
Social media has enabled people to put actions and behaviours of people from the past under the spotlight in the present; it is quite common to see old clips or pictures doing rounds of the internet and fuelling certain conversations that were not sparked when the video or picture or statement came out originally. An example of this is the #MeToo movement. Many victims of sexual abuse came out with their stories years after the incident happened. This followed a round of blame game and rendered the accused and the victims in a web of confusion. While some claimed that the accusations were false, how does one get to know the legitimacy? But another question that #MeToo movement raised, which I think is even relevant in this context is whether it is fair to hold someone accountable for their past actions? Can something as serious as abuse be forgotten just because a few years have passed?
An apology must be taken into consideration if the current actions of the person concerned reflect what has been said or written as an acknowledgment of past failures.
While an apology is clearly not enough in case of grave misdemeanors like harassment or abuse, are we willing to consider it for careless statements such as the one made above? And mind you, the rules have to be the same for both the genders. So can a written apology do justice to the propagation of a misplaced idea or mindset then? I don’t think so. An apology must be taken into consideration only if the current actions of the person concerned reflect what has been said or written as an acknowledgment of past failures. However, if the apology is made just in an attempt to appease those who feel offended, then it is of little effect. Where’s the reflection over your words or actions? Where’s the will to change your behaviour and mindset?
Talking of morality, something that seems right in the current scenario might come out as wrong a few years down the line. In such a case, it is needful that one walks their talk. It’s not enough to own up to what was once said or done unless the person shows an intent to change and to be better.
Saavriti is an intern at SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.