Celebrity couple Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli announced that they were expecting a baby collectively on social media on 27th August 2020. India could not have been more excited about the news. Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian cricket team is a star who India –  the nation where cricket is religion , is equivalent to the rhythm of the nation’s heart. Virat and Anushka’s baby news has the nation racing and waiting in anticipation. 

With the onset of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the entire nation is set watching their favourite game on screen. The IPL cricket match is probably the only exciting thing for India during the pandemic. Virat Kohli led, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) lost a match yesterday which came as a shock to their fans. Sunil Gavaskar, Veteran Cricketer passed a statement about Virat Kohli “During the recent lockdown, he only practised Anushka’s bowling.” The innuendo here cannot be ignored. Sunil Gavaskar was pointing at Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma “bowling” during the lockdown clearly pointing at them engaging in sex, which kept Virat away from practising. Why is Anushka Sharma being blamed for Virat Kohli’s performance? This says something deeper about sexism which exists in Indian society. Indians put too much importance on the woman in a relationship and her influence over the man’s work.

Somehow, if the man does not perform well, the woman is blamed. This mindset is a result of society seeing women only as sexual beings who exist to satisfy the needs of men.

How many times have we heard a mother tell her son, “Don’t date her, she will distract you from work.”, when the woman was pretty. This mindset also makes society see men as people of limited control and agency over their own lives. Men are portrayed as “victims” of beautiful women. It is shocking to see Mr. Sunil Gavaskar, an elite cricketer, gave into this mindset. It really tells us that no matter how elite people in India get, even the topmost circles have a prevailing sexist attitude. 

In the 21st Century in India, we still live in a society where a woman gets blamed for a man’s shortcomings. If Anushka Sharma produced a flop film, would Virat Kohli be blamed for it? Most likely not. Her shortcomings would be hers alone. However, if she produced a good film, it is likely that Indians would find a way to say “It did well because she had Virat Koli’s support.”

As a growing woman I am deeply saddened to see that society will not credit me for my victories but will blame me fully for my shortcomings. 

On the other hand, just as Sunil Gavaskar did, it is likely that women are going to be blamed for the man’s shortcomings but never include their victories. In both cases, the man gets the victory and the woman gets the shortcoming. Why does society think that a woman has the power to affect the man’s performance professionally? Why does this mindset exist in society that men are victims?

Anushka Sharma posted a story on her Instagram calling Sunil Gavaskar’s comment “distasteful”. It is saddening to see that the media has covered this very little since morning and has offered the star duo limited support. It is also surprising to see that fans have not reposted this story and it has not become viral till now. Maybe because many RCB fans who watched the match yesterday give into the belief that Anushka Sharma is the real reason for Virat Kohli’s poor performance. The support which Anushka has got after Sunil Gavaskar’s comment tells us something about our own mindsets which needs to change. 

Even more, there are many media houses which are claiming that Sunil Gavaskar has passed a completely different comment which is now being twisted. As a country, we do anything we can to save the men and to make them look like the victims. They have gone as far as to blame Anushka for twisting Mr. Gavaskar’s words. A cricket veteran with a huge fan following is hard to prove wrong in India. It’s not hard to tell that despite Anushka being a leading actress, most people have picked to side with the cricket veteran Mr. Gavaskar. 

I had a discussion with an RCB fan this morning who said “Of course Anushka might have distracted Virat this lockdown. It’s obvious what they were doing instead of practicing.” I made him realise where he went wrong in his thinking. Women do not exist to distract men. We have our own lives. Men are not victims who get distracted, they have a free choice. It’s time we understand this. Indian society owes Anushka Sharma an apology.

Views expressed are the author’s own

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