The media coverage and political exposes achieved a new low when Hardik Patel’s alleged sex tape made its electoral debut. There is no need to further discuss who this man is, or why is he so essential to the coming Gujarat elections. The authenticity of this tape is still being debated. And though we don’t want to know, we are being bombarded with new ‘investigative evidence’ every day, of who could be behind this expose. Yes, the entire nation wants to know every detail possible about an awkward sex tape filmed without the said man’s consent.
Consent is a word whose meaning is lost on the public, media and politicians alike. Be it sexual assault, marital rape, or filming a sexual encounter without the knowledge of person involved. Lack of understanding of the concept of consent is deeply rooted in all the crimes.
And the reasons can be many. Men think it is okay to tease and stalk a girl because they have grown up believing that a girl’s no means yes. A husband thinks its okay to force himself on his wife, because he thinks that sex is his marital right. People shoot sex tapes and share and sell them. That too without the knowledge of one or both the individuals involved, because voyeurism has a big market. Seldom will anyone refuse to watch such a scandalous footage. They don’t care about why the tape was filmed. Was it for money, or was it for revenge? Or was it simply to prove manhood?
But is consent merely limited to these three issues? Or is it always women who suffer? The recent so-called expose is a proof that men are victims here as well.
Having your intimate moments being shown in the loop on prime time, with reporters and public dissecting each frame of it, is the kind of nakedness you only experience in your nightmares.
And all these things happen because we chose to let these misconceptions go unchecked. We choose to keep quiet when a woman shares the horrors of her bedroom, saying that it’s a private matter between a husband and wife. Peers shrug their shoulders and say, ‘Boys will be boys,’ when loafers chase girls imitating scenes from movies. All of us are guilty of watching with pleasure, when the paparazzi click and hound celebrities around the world, despite their pleas to respect their privacy.
Us viewing a footage of a man’s sexual encounter, filmed without his consent puts us in the same bracket of the men who click pictures of women at bus stops and in locals without their knowledge, and then proceeds to share them with their friends.
And if we want to discourage these misconceptions, which lead to bigger catastrophes like assault, acid attacks and sometimes suicide, we need to start saying no. We need to discourage viewing and sharing of such footage, and to slap the wrists of media channels who entertain such exposes. There is a need to discuss with children and men of the household, about their understanding of consent. Because this issue goes beyond gender, or country.
Consent is a basic right of the entire human race.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a dentist by training, writer by passion, mommy and wife by karma. Juggles more than she can, and ends up getting bunked on the head, just like all women. The views are author’s own.