The Commonly Misunderstood Concept of “Consent”
The critically acclaimed actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui recently released his biography, titled An Ordinary Life with Rituparna Chatterjee. Excerpts from the book started doing the rounds on social media in which the actor gives a detailed account of his private affairs. Currently, the book has been recalled from the markets.
In his memoir, Siddiqui has opened up about the women in his life. He has penned down his intimate relationships with Sunita Rajwar, Niharika Singh, Suzzane and a waitress in New York.
While the intention of the actor to stay honest and write the truth in his memoir is appreciable but unfortunately, he has lost his sense of the “concept of consent”.
Both Niharika and Sunita voiced their opinions and clarified their stance on various platforms by slamming his book and him for fabricating stories. They mentioned that they were not approached by Nawazuddin asking for permission if he could write about their private affair. The details are flooded all over the media and social websites, the question is how private is private?
While the supreme court announced that the right to privacy is a fundamental right, what Nawazuddin has failed to recognise is that revealing such details is not just a matter of privacy for him but for the other person involved. While we live in a country where marital rape is not considered a crime and the “No” of a woman in debated and contested, the act of not getting consent from the person should not surprise us. It’s unfortunate that we think that we are at liberty to do everything and anything without considering the consequences on the other person.
The concept of consent has never existed in our patriarchal society and it’s unfortunate that it has not changed since then.
Simran Chatrath, studying psychology from Amity University, talks about how if there is an emotional and a physical element involved between two people, the consent of both is required for it to happen and also anything associated with it must involve both the people. “Be it a hug, kiss or sex, it’s just not the man but also involves a woman and the day we recognise this, our society will progress. Other than that, there is a basic unsaid rule that if you kiss someone, you cannot talk about it to anybody, let alone write about it, unless and until the other person gives consent.
The concept of consent has never existed in our patriarchal society and it’s unfortunate that it has not changed since then. The revelations made by Nawazuddin is vulgar and outright cheap. It’s not a fiction where there is a disclaimer that the names used are imaginary and are not in relevance with anyone. Nawazuddin being an international celebrity should recognise the responsibility on his shoulders as a public figure. It’s a common sense that it is going to be read by millions and to share one’s private pillow talks with the masses outraging the modesty of the other without their consent is uncalled for and disappointing”, says Simran.
Hence, it’s imperative that a piece by anyone on their personal memoirs should be sensitive to the people mentioned in it.
It’s unfair to talk about instances which involves another person and especially being an influential person, it leaves a bad impact on people as well. Two-step theory in media studies talks about how opinion leaders, namely actors, politicians and other famous personalities have a strong influence on the public. This is the reason why they should think a million times before they do or say anything. Imagine our social media pages being filled with people revealing their intimate relationships and how they have coped post break-up. It’s an unsettling feeling.
It’s important that celebrities take their responsibilities of being the face of public and practice and preach things which are of good value. Consent is very important in any context and in such matters wherein the records are impossible to erase, one should not take rash moves.
Reshma Ganeshbabu is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed in this column are the author’s own.