In a reflexive move to defend misogyny in Bollywood, people are slut-shaming Tanushree Dutta for daring to speak up. As soon as Dutta went public with her accusations of harassment against Nana Patekar, a flurry of people began questioning her “character”. They simply couldn’t understand why a starlet who did “bold scenes” in films like Aashiq Banaya Aapne was creating such a fuss over some inappropriate touching. Apparently, she is not a victim of sexual harassment, because she is a loose woman who has sex and strips clothes on screen. How can a man be held guilty for touching her? Certainly, her screen image puts a board around her neck of being available.

The hateful and derogatory remarks people are making against Dutta, sheds light on our problematic approach to harassment. This victim blaming attitude is the reason why it is a struggle to keep #MeToo afloat in India.

No matter what a man does, people will always find a way to blame the survivor.

Just because Dutta did some intimate scenes in films, it doesn’t mean that any man has the right to harass her. This is a classic argument men have been using in defence of their uncouth behaviour. In case of female actors, they question the character of a woman who agreed to be objectified in films. If she can shamelessly shed clothes on screen, men have the right to behave with her as per their wishes, right? No. Wrong.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • As soon as Dutta went public with her accusations of harassment against Nana Patekar, a flurry of people began questioning her “character”.
  • They couldn’t understand why a starlet who did “bold scenes” in films was creating such a fuss over some inappropriate touching.
  • This tendency to question a woman’s morality and justify harassment is why any effort to fix the menace of sexual harassment in India has not got us concrete results.

It is almost impossible to beat some sense into heads of Indian men brimming with entitlement.

When will they realise that actors have a separate and distinct reel and real lives? That you cannot hide behind slut shaming and defend a man’s inappropriate conduct. Touching anyone, intimidating her, and using your professional power to bend her into subjugation is harassment. The identity, social standing or profession of both parties in this matter doesn’t change anything.

This tendency to question a woman’s morality and justify harassment is why any effort to fix the menace of sexual harassment in India has not got us concrete results. Women continue to get slut shamed and most men refuse to see any fault in their lecherous behaviour. Then how can we expect a #MeToo to sustain in the country? How will Dutta’s story encourage other women to speak up? If all she is going to receive is slut shaming and character assassination for showing courage and breaking her silence?

Unless we call out this misogyny and entitlement in our society, there is no point in encouraging women to speak up against sexual harassment. Let Dutta’s courage not turn to ashes.

Picture Credit : India Today

Also Read: Tanushree Dutta’s Revelation Shows How Bollywood Protects Its Men

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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