This is an open letter to Kangana, who should not be considered a feminist icon. In fact Kangana, if you are reading this, read with the mind and heart of a human being that is still inside all the hypocritical delusion you live in.
Three years ago when you appeared on the Aap Ki Adalat show, you became a sensation, provoked some debates and fearlessly responded to false accusations and the hypocrisy of men and women in power. You didn’t mince your words when asked about your problematic relationships and how Bollywood is a place of great tribulation for outsiders such as yourself.
The 21 year old me watched in awe as a public figure-that too a woman-questioned ‘elites’ of the film industry and their habit of stifling every independent voice, and I hailed you as a rebellious spirit. To come from a place of struggle and rejection and then rise above and beyond like a phoenix is a treat to watch and makes it more relatable for all the women battling to find their voices. I mean who doesn’t like a badass actor who is not afraid of how many awards she loses or how many influencers hate her.
I still remember what my mother said right away, ‘I just don’t have a good feeling about her’ and I shushed her because Kangana, all I needed was to see you at the moment, a woman unafraid to call out her ‘stupid exes’ and other powerful people. And I still believe it takes years for a society to accept powerful female figures as they are and its customary to experience some obstacles and trolling on the way, which means you are revolutionising your surroundings.
But then, with time I realised isn’t the kind of feminist you are influencing young women to be, self-centred? From what I know feminism is all about inclusivity and shattering all kinds of notions about who should be more equal by nature and law. In a diverse country like India, feminism is supposed to be intersectional- women of all castes, social positions, political views and even choices deserve to be represented and given a platform. But you as an icon chose to use feminism to just ride on the same band wagon of artists who speak on the issues that helps them maintain their status quo, and turn into a performative activist. You said in an interview that you have extensively read Simone de Beauvoir, have you forgotten the vision the woman carried or were you just using it to build up your image?
To benefit your political career, position in society you definitely know what sells the most.
For me you first broke your image as a feminist when, along with other artists, you reportedly signed a counter letter against the joint appeal of other artists to the Modi government to bring light to mob lynching. To articulate myself better, you wrote against the voices that were highlighting minority genocide. You have repeatedly ascertained through examples of incidents that displayed the continued ignorance of the Modi government towards the mass dehumanisation of Muslims and Dalits, and have always supported their propaganda.
I know it’s unjust to question you completely for all the toxicity that you and your sister, Rangoli have spread online, but you are in your 30s and by that I presume you can think for yourself and choose to make better choices which you don’t.
Let’s talk about the interview you gave for BBC News. You rightly questioned the double standards of Bollywood stars who are campaigning against racism but promote fairness enhancing products back home, even pointed out their selective activism and that was okay. But woman, instead of understanding the ideology behind #blacklivesmatter, you changed the topic to a completely different incident. You had the opportunity to discuss the dehumanisation of minorities in India, you could have have talked about Kapil Mishra and Safoora Zargar instead you highlighted a completely different one, the lynching of sadhus. And then I stopped expecting better from you.
Once again an actor fails to use her privilege, and fight for equal rights and justice for politically opinionated women like her.
Even your recent stint on the whole Sushant Rajput’s untimely demise proves the fact that your feminism is only benefiting yourself and no one else. You took this unfortunate event to talk about nepotism, a topic which duly requires proper attention, but according to me, has least connection to the case of Sushant, given the fact that a family lawyer of Sushant’s has confirmed of no nepotism angle.
Throughout your interviews you have claimed of so many factors leading Sushant to fall into depression, (which are again just assumptions and conclusions according to me) and have ended up ranting about your struggles. A topic like nepotism deserves a proper stage and time where it can be thoroughly discussed and criticised, but using it to ride on the bandwagon of what’s trending these days is like capitalising off someone’s grief.
In recent events, you started taking jibes at actresses like Taapsee and Richa Chadha, just because they cease to agree with you. It started with questioning Sushant’s case to accusing your contemporaries for not joining your rhetoric-the way you wished they would-against nepotism. You started belittling outsiders like yourself- forgetting what you actually began with was to stand up for the rights for the ones who might not have the resources to back them up- and their prominence as artists.
Trying to call yourself a trailblazer doesn’t mean you intent to make everyone walk on the same path. It is to become a better example of sharing space, acknowledging different opinions and understanding that making it in a system which favours ‘insiders’ is in itself a victory against nepotism, mentally harassing someone isn’t. If not, you become what you detested the most.
So, I guess my mother was right.
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