Satire, but not quite.
I watched this video which has been floating around the Internet for quite a while. It was designed to be a satirical piece, but somehow I didn’t quite see what was funny in it. It is ridiculous, yes, but it is ridiculous on a dimension that is very different from the variety that I would laugh at. I don’t mean to trash this video. I think Kalki Koechlin has done a brilliant job. As did Juhi Pandey and everyone else who participated in this job. The social message it carried was powerful and hard-hitting. My only problem is that I’m unsure of how to react to this.
I could not laugh during the video. I don’t think it was funny at all. Satire usually is, but this was perhaps a little too close to the truth to actually strike me as amusing. What hit me the hardest was the part where the lady in bridal gear talks about losing her independence and when the fingers wipe off her smile, she says, “It’s not rape if it’s your husband.” Her expression captured the helplessness so perfectly, that it’s the one persisting memory I will have of this video for a long time.
My friends say that I’m overreacting to a satire, or that the purpose of satire in itself is to mock widely held beliefs and hold them up for how stupid they are. But the fact is, even though it’s apparent that the ideas are beyond stupid, this video seems to parody what could be the daily life experiences of someone. How is that funny?
I’m working on my campus for a gender misconduct and sexual violence movement. More about them here: http://knowyourix.org/
We are focusing on our publicity campaigns this week, and we wanted some feedback from the community as to what they thought of some of our lines. You’d be surprised. Some people actually find that calling themselves the ‘victim’ in a sexual assault case is NOT disempowering. They choose to be associated with that label. This is not to say that I have any personal objection to this as such, but it was just a very different view point from what I would have thought. Which just goes on to show how much more I need to learn.
Another one of the reasons I realized was that not all people treat rape with the same order of magnitude. To some, it may be a minor incidence, to others it may be devastating. But it’s still a crime. And people still do it. And that is WRONG.
The Hindi euphemism for rape is “izzat lootna” which can be roughly translated to “stealing your dignity”. While working on our publicity campaign, I came across survivors who said that they didn’t necessarily feel their dignity being taken away because they were raped. Indeed, they are right. There is a lot more to dignity than just sexual boundaries. Nobody has the right to associate dignity from a bad incident. I can’t be telling people how to feel about their situation.
You know what’s the most stark part about our movement? We don’t just cover women. There are men in this world, who get abused, and
yet very few of them speak up. Their reported numbers are even lesser than women. How do you objectively try to understand the magnitude of what they’re going through?
Sometimes I wonder if the exiting societal systems in place are actually going to do something about this? How does a society look at its own problems? Many social causes come and go, videos will be made, protests will be had. But what does it really take to change society? I don’t know.