Malaika Arora’s love life and the rumours of her impending wedding to Arjun Kapoor has sent our desi moral brigade’s compass into a tizzy. Since last few days, the news of them dating has been doing rounds on the social media. Arora and Kapoor have been duly spotted and snapped together by the paparazzi, adding further fuel to the fire. And as it is with every budding film fraternity romance the Twitteratti had to offer its opinion on this so-called “peculiar” match.

There is the obvious reverse age gap, which caught the attention of many on the social media. But in the recent times, we have had our fill of conversation round reverse age shaming. We have seen people crack the same crass jokes and make lewd remarks when Priyanka Chopra announced her engagement to Nick Jonas or when Neha Dhupia married Angad Bedi. What caught our attention, despite a vision blurred with festive laziness, was how people were shaming Arora on grounds of morality. They have labelled her alleged romance with Arjun Kapoor wrong on the basis of reasons which reek of misogyny and are even beyond logic.

Yes, you read that right. Some people are of the opinion that since Kapoor has allegedly dated Arora’s sister-in-law, it makes her his bhabhi.

In our culture, a bhabhi or the brother’s wife is akin to a mother. So the alleged relationship between Arora and Kapoor is a corrupt relationship because how could ex-bhabhi of the universal bhai in Bollywood, dare to date his protege? Perhaps the fact that Malaika and Arbaaz Khan are living their separate lives post divorce and the sister-in-law in question is also married, is lost on most people. These people have moved on in their personal lives, but gossip mongers and the moral brigade is still holding on to the dead relationships and defunct personal equations.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Malaika Arora is being shamed on social media for allegedly dating Arjun Kapoor.
  •  People show such less resistance when middle-aged male celebrities walk out of marriages into new relationships. 
  • But women do not enjoy the same leeway as men do, even in matters of the heart.
  • A divorced man is looked at with pity but a divorced woman overnight becomes a social taboo.

Another reason why Arora is receiving so much hate is because of her divorced status. It seems people still find it hard to digest that women can move on after a divorce, find love again and lead a happy life. Some people are even sharing old posts, claiming that they were in a relationship even when Arora was in a marriage with Khan. But to simply go by gossip and call a person an adulteress is as terrible as judging a book by its cover.

Just because of certain rumours, why are people so readily painting Arora as an immoral woman? Why is it so hard for them to accept a woman’s decision to lead a life on her own terms?

People show such less resistance when middle-aged male celebrities walk out of marriages into new relationships. Not many shame them for “abandoning” their children or wife. Or for putting the fabric of our culture under strain by getting into a relationship with a younger partner. This is because on some level people know that it is none of their business. But when it comes to women, they just can’t get rid of their sanskar-tinted glasses.

Women thus, do not enjoy the same leeway as men do, even in matters of the heart. A divorced man is looked at with pity but a divorced woman overnight becomes a social taboo. A man having an affair outside of marriage calls for introspection of his matrimony on the wife’s part, even in many modern circles. He may have a reason. Perhaps he was unhappy. Maybe they fell out of love. Maybe she wasn’t good enough for him. At best it becomes a matter of gossip. But when a married woman gets involved with another man, she is instantly painted as a homewrecker, a cheat or a characterless woman. These double standards reflect in the dishonourable comments people are making against Arora on social media.

However, this is not the era where people can pressurise women into following social dictates via shaming.

Women have seen through this trick and they know that wagging tongues eventually tire out. People got tired of talking about the reverse age gap, and it is not a big deal for a woman, especially from Bollywood, to tie the knot with a younger man anymore. Similarly, people will eventually stop talking about how Arora, a mother of a teen boy, still has a life after divorce. Hopefully, people will see her just as a woman seeking love and happiness. If not today, then tomorrow, people will stop talking and begin accepting and for now, this silver lining seems enough.

Also Read : Dr Bharti Khurana: Bringing Intimate Partner Violence Into Focus

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own

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