Vikrant Massey, Here's How Your "Dainty Little Princesses" Remark Reinforces Casual Misogyny

This loose idea of the Tinkerbell-like, frail woman who crumbles under the slightest of stress and needs constant care and reassurance is a gender stereotype women have been trying to shed for decades now.

Tanvi Akhauri
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One of non-mainstream cinema's (and my own) favourite actors, Vikrant Massey, with a foot-in-mouth statement, has collectively upset an entire legion of fans. On Thursday, the 33-year-old took to Twitter to slam the Centre's decision to scrap the winter session of the Parliament. While the questions he raised are justified, the way they were communicated was nothing short of offensive, even if Massey didn't mean for it to be that way. Suffixing his criticism of the context in which the winter session has been cancelled amid the pandemic, the Cargo actor jeered, "Dainty little princesses!!!"

He proceeded to issue an apology, when netizens lashed out at him for his deeply misogynistic remark, but not without a caveat. His "sincere apology" was laced with sarcasm that became more foregrounded as he wrote how "Twitter is a shit-hole" where "misinterpreting something" is common. While the latter claim holds water on most occasions, Massey would do well to know that his remark was not misinterpreted, no matter how casually he used his "princess" phrase. It was a disparaging one replete with sexism, hints of toxic masculinity, and an attempt (probably unwitting) at emasculation.

What's worse is that Massey didn't stop there. Even after receiving feedback to his initial tweets, he stepped up to make another gaffe - a worse one. Responding to a woman who called him out him for the misogyny inherent in his tweets, Massey patronisingly wrote, "Didi, ho gaya ab!" to stop her from speaking further on the issue. Mad props to the woman who gave him a piece of her mind even after his crass "didi" address to her (which obviously wasn't used reverently, but dismissively, as is the trend online).

Also Read: How Actor Prateik Babbar Is Defying Stereotypes Of Masculinity

Massey Sahib, Here's What's Misogynistic About Your Tweets

Even at the outset, Massey's "dainty little princesses" remark reeks of implied casual sexism that swings both ways, no two questions about it. In taking a dig at the authorities (that for whichever reason, real or created, have cancelled the Parliament's winter session) by calling them "dainty princesses," Massey immediately pulled down women as the weaker gender. Vain about their interests, fragile in the face of pressure, and intolerant to inconvenience. An idea further pushed - albeit in a lesser degree - by his colleague, and another of unconventional cinema's favourite, Gulshan Devaiah who responded saying, "Too many dainty little snowflakes."

This loose idea of the Tinkerbell-like, frail woman who crumbles under the slightest of stress and needs constant care and reassurance is a gender stereotype women have been trying to shed for decades now. It is closely tied to the "dumb blonde" image I wrote about earlier. These ideas project women as spoilt brats, unequipped to rise up to gritty situations.

Is it fair at all to liken leaders and policies you don't agree with to genderisation as dated and problematic as these? And then counter women with pejoratives like "didi" when they dare to question you over your casual misogyny?

This projection of a particular gender also doesn't come without an obviously implicit inference that there is a flip side. The male alpha saviour expected to stand up to adversity in all his glory. For an actor who has garnered adulation for shattering toxic masculinity as this through his roles in A Death in the Gunj and Mirzapur, what is such bewildering impropriety if not painfully disappointing?

Also Read: Marriage And Motherhood Are Choices, Not Obligations

Massey's unrelenting manner to not identify the problem in his tweets and instead beam it back to the netizens criticising him for it is how casual sexism has maintained a stronghold in our societies even today, as the feminist discourse widens. With people coming at him to highlight the unsuspecting misogyny in his tweets, Massey's defence took a tone that suggested people are over-reacting. But are they? Or is the person perpetrating such sexism showing an under-reaction to the derogation coming out of their mouth (or in this case screen)?

It is not "too much" to nip sexism in the bud when you see it happen. It is never "too much" to notify someone when their humour or supposed sarcasm tips over into deprecatory territory. "Bas ho gaya" is not an option if respectful equality of all genders is to be realised, Massey sahib.

Views expressed are the author's own. 

toxic masculinity vikrant massey Gender stereotypes Casual Sexism Bollywood Actor