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Feminism in the time of MMS, Trisha Krishnan, Jyothika and video clips - critique of Amrita Shah's column in IE

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The entire 35 boys in my BA class were experts at figuring out which girl wor the right top, the right skirt where we could catch a glimpse of a cleavage, legs, thighs... We had accepted that we were like that only. None of us had any problem talking about literature with those same girls either. We could catch a peep later.

Seen those English movies of the 70s and 80s where boys were always dropping pens on the floor to look under someone's skirts? That is not crappy humour. It happens everywhere. Okay, the movies show the boys looking under the teacher's skirt. That, does not happen much, not when you have fresh hatchlings bursting out of their clothes in your classroom.

Teens have always had a fascination for telescopes and binoculars. Sure, they are used for watching objects in the distance, especially when it's someone of the opposite sex. Noticed the sudden spurt in the number of cheap binoculars on the streetside? And how many do you see using them at a hillstation - a couple or two? Just where are those binoculars being used, Amrita Shah? I am sure there are 14-year old boys jury-rigging digital cameras to those telescopes. Also, can anyone say with any certainty that any of the oversexed teens we see around resist hiding a spy camera behind a mirror or under a Ganesha or in a clock? Exactly those items are being sold on several auction websites now. Guess who are the customers?

Men have wanted to peep, shoot videos, look upskirt, downblouse and many other unmentionables for time immemorial. If any man tells you otherwise, please marry him - you have come across a rare saint. Boys have got turned on by bechari Salma Sultan, for Chrissake.

I can also say that there is a reasonable chance that if you land up in a relative's house where one of the occupants is a computer-savvy kid, he has most probably examined the room thoroughly and has a little camera installed somewhere. Do NOT have sex there. Don't even grope.

Coming back to Amrita Shah's article - the point I hope I have made is that men have always peeped, will continue to peep till kingdom come whenever, wherever they have the opportunity. In fact, peeping is such a natural instinct for me that I hate women giving me the opportunity to do so. Come on, I just want to get by through my day and go home, did I really need to be tempted to look down that bouse? If any woman reading this does it to a guy, please read very, very slowly. It's painful torture you are inflicting on me - I do not want to look, my instincts will make me look - all for what? Nothing! I can't even shoot a video of them, you need a teen's energy levels to get around to doing that.

Poor ignorant Amrita. Please hire a few old teen movie videos, and watch them. Then multiply those teens' fantasies by a factor of 100. There you have your average Indian teen, youth, man. "And funnily enough, the more we talk about it, the more their plan succeeds." There is NO GRAND PLAN, Amrita. We just follow our instincts.
Now that we are clear there, the rest of Amrita Shah's article starts making sense. "Simply because what we see upfront is not the criminal but the victim. Some time ago, model-turned-film star Bipasha Basu was molested in a Mumbai nightclub. Could anyone say what her molester looked like?" Answer: No. Because he was not shot on camera. If there was a photo published in the papers of the actual molestation, all men would remember him. If it was just a passport mug, no one would.

"The man who molested Jyothika, could anyone who viewed the clip describe him from memory?" Answer: Many. His face is clearly visible, and he looks quite ordinary, but still he can be described because its a video clip, and we can see the perpetrator and the victim.

"Nobody knows who put a camera in Trisha’s bathroom, if indeed it was really her bathroom. Everybody, on the other hand, knows about the exploitation of Miss Jammu and Kashmir but could anyone name her alleged exploiter off hand?" Answer: No. Because the name Miss Jammu is easy to remember, Miss Jammu Anara Gupta only slighly less so. If the guy's name was something simple - say, Mr. Jammu, we would have definitely remembered.

I apologise, if you think I just made fun of Amrita Shah in this column. All I did was to make fun of all those women who have no clue about the workings of men's minds. Or prefer not to know, and just complain.

Now Amrita makes a more poignant point, "...regardless of what happens to the offenders a certain message has already been sent home by the very act itself. The message: that it is shameful, to bathe, to walk the street, have sexual desires so on and so forth. And when the victims are successful women — and in this case many of them are — then the message carries an even greater suggestion of retribution." She is right. I don't agree with the motives she provides, but the effect is spot-on. However, this is not the end-all of women's emancipation.

And then Amrita Shah slips into rhetorical feminist mode again:

"And this is where the connection between beauty contests and the abuse of new technology comes in. Over the last few years, we have seen an utterly irresponsible build-up of a culture devoted to the worship of physical beauty — more accurately, beauty that approximates a standard, internationally accepted look. Through the tom-tomming of beauty contests, fashion shows, youth culture, events associated with glamour and in a million more insidious ways, we have unquestioningly created a society that spins on just one human attribute. And now it is time to pay. It is well known that developments of the modern age are often used to reassert the most regressive attitudes. The surge of middle class prosperity through stockmarket investments in the eighties, for instance, led to a stronger emphasis on dowry and wedding expenses. New technology offers an even greater scope for subversion. If we want to stop the proliferation of exploitative, invasive media, if we want to protect ourselves from the potential abuse of new technology and if we want a liberal society where people of all gender can walk free, then it is not enough to think merely of laws and rules. "

And what is the solution she suggests? "We have to be conscious of the values and social messages shaping the minds that have to abide by them." Come on, give us all a break! That last line just means this: We don't have a clue what to do about this.
That, there, ladies and gentlemen, is the truth. We can't do anything. But perhaps, I can offer you a historical view of the entire process and the battle between the male and female.

A few decades back, you had large percentages of uneducated, suppressed women. Beaten, cheated upon, practical slaves. Ignorant, often innocent. More rough men, more wife-beaters, rapists, molesters. Less effective law and order, sometimes none. No hidden cameras.

Now you have educated women, liberal, sensual and sexual. More educated men too. Less wife-killers, less rapists (overall), more accepting, more liberal men. With hidden cameras. All in all, women have a better deal. And will only get better, give or take a few thousand peeping tom videos. Tomorrow we will have much greater public acceptance of sexy women, public nudity or affection, divorce, career-women, legalised prostitution and nude beaches. But the hidden cameras will remain. Forever. (US produces more hidden cam and upkirt videos that any other country.) Till some smart, sexy and very clever woman genetically engineers a different type of man.

The world will go on.


JuSt as we were uploading this comment comes report from the Hyderabad Forensic Lab that the controversial Miss Jammu CD did not have Miss Jammu at all! Miss Jammu Anara Gupta and a cable operator were arrested on charges of obscenity; for a porn video. Gupta and her mom protested fiercely that It Wasn't Me, , but no one believed them. The J&K police had sent the video CD to Hyderabad to confirm whether the woman was the same. She was not. Meanwhile, Miss Jammu had to go through police confinement, and if we take their word, torture.

God save the Malayalee

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