We must first thank you for your thoughtful and timely interventions using various online forums and open letters (there are those who say actions speak louder than words but hey, haters gonna hate, right?)
( refer to the earlier blogpost for part 1 of this conversation)
However, Ms. Diana, our Value Ed teacher, always taught us to have an inquiring mind and not take things at face value. So we have put together a list of certain questions we wanted to share with you.
Why were you not moved enough to write a strong letter to Salman Bhaijan when he joked about rape? http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/W7hynBkaR7U0HFAyVDJ0HL/Why-Salman-Khan-can-joke-about-rape-and-get-away-with-it.html. Why did you not caution him about slapping around his girlfriends? Or perhaps you did not know what we knew and what we did not know.
In fact when we read Aishwarya Rai’s statement from 2003, we thought it was actually written by our current girl who must not be named! What a coincidence isn’t it?? Just like the unrelated look- alikes from Kaho Na Pyaar Hai where the actor turns up in two places at once with different names and passports. Paris and Mumbai. Sorry, was it New Zealand and Mumbai? http://indiaopines.com/aishwarya-rai-statement-salman-khan/
“For the sake of my well-being, my sanity, my dignity and the dignity and self-respect of my family — ENOUGH! I will not work with Mr Salman Khan. The Salman chapter was a nightmare in my life and I am thankful to God that it is over!
While I have maintained a dignified silence about him and his wrong-doings, he (his family and friends) has repeatedly attacked the respect, dignity and pride of me and my family (with irresponsible rumour mongering. I stood by him enduring alcoholism, misbehavior in worse phases and in turn, I was at the receiving end of his abuse (verbal, physical, emotional), infidelity and indignity. ………. And I must add, that it has been very easy for some members of the film industry, media or social circles to flog opinions, when they have not been at the receiving end. And when so many of them God knows, have been witnesses and in knowledge of the truth. This is truly sad.
Contrary to the rumours, I do not call him. On the contrary, he has tried calling me and texting me on the pretext of his film Bajirao Mastani even using Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s identity. I have been compelled to make this otherwise trivial validation in print because of the continuous lies and false stories being circulated [by a strong clique].
Honestly, I do not have the time, energy and man power [in media or social circuits] to keep reiterating validations against every [and seemingly constant] false stories or allegations.
Why did you not write a strongly worded appeal to Rishi Kapoor Uncle when he told a woman ‘ass wipe and screw you’ on Twitter? That sounded pretty discriminatory and offensive to us. Plenty of men in Bollywood he could have called that too. They must be in tears at being left out of his farrago of curses and ravings? Are you aware that online violence against women is correlated to real life misogyny and violence ?
Why didn’t you make a heartfelt and emotional appeal to Aamir Khan Big Bro not to make a joke of the word balaatkar / rape in his movie ‘3 idiots’ which was a ‘U’ certified film and released across the country at almost 2000 screens? You do know that more than a 1000 women get raped in India everyday? Or is it because as you say in your letter “most does not mean all” and MARD is only for Men Against Rape and Discrimination—of Men ? https://qz.com/343850/why-is-aamir-khan-offended-by-the-aib-roast-when-he-has-done-worse-in-3-idiots/
Why did you not pen an insightful and reflective letter to Amit Uncle on his b’day recently asking him to offer an unconditional retroactive apology for all those years when he played not just an Angry Young Man but often the Harassing and Crass Young Man ? Right from harassing Aruna Irani in Bombay to Goa till Kimi Katkar in the song Jumma Chumma. Not to mention the Lambu Tambu Mein Bambu song in Mard. Misogyny can also be as subtle as leaving out all the women from your family tree like Uncle has done recently. https://www.newslaundry.com/2016/09/08/are-there-no-women-worth-mentioning-in-the-bachchan-nanda-lineage
Where were you when Golmaal, Humshakal and other crude, crass and repugnant films were being released, with women being shown as sex objects and with toilet humour, pheromone sprays and men in drag considered comic relief ? Some such movies have been directed by your own first cousin brother Sajid Khan. Surely you have a family Whatsapp group where you could have sent him an open letter?
Why have you not written an extra open letter to Suzanne Bhabhi who divorced this ‘good soul’ for no apparent reason but is now being seen in photographs and at events with him way more than when they were married ?!
Her ex –husband gave this explanation for the divorce: “I am just trying to say that there are many reasons why people would like to live separate lives. Infidelity is just one of them. So the general assumption was, ‘Ah he is the superstar, he must have done something wrong. She must have caught him.’ That is not the case. We are great friends. It is between us. The reason that we decided to live separately may have been an inspiring reason, how do you know?” http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/hrithik-roshan-sussanne-khan-divorce-kangana-ranaut-affair/1/1064500.html
You say in your open letter that you are not the authority on what is right and what is wrong.
Trust us, we know that.
However, we at our collective like to believe that even a 2 year old can understand good touch and bad touch and a 20 year old can certainly understand what is a cheating relationship and a 50 year old like your self should have figured out right and wrong by now! Unless of course, you are not in full possession of the facts. But all of you met recently in a well- choreographed dinner photo op, tabhi pooch toh liya hota bhai ??
We are also waiting with bated breath for your open letter to the Sabarimala Temple Board Chief after he has said this: “If women are allowed, we can’t ensure their security. We don’t like to convert it as a sex tourism spot like Thailand. Even if the court opens its doors I don’t think self-respecting women will dare to go up to the hill shrine,” he said.
We do hope you can ask him also clarify if he meant there would be lesbian sex work (which would be super discriminatory to men isn’t it??) or Men would in any way be involved? Perhaps they could consider keeping Men out for a few centuries now and once they have learnt to behave properly with Women in public and private spaces without turning temples into brothels and homes into torture chambers, then only let them back in ? We have found that such strict discipline works very well with the boys in standard 4 and 5 in our school before they join the co-ed middle school.
Would you like us to put you in touch with a group like LABIA (Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action—which, by the way, has totally burned you in the acronym stakes!!) or CLITS (Cultural and Literary Innovations and Talks Society) to explain to you why all these aforementioned episodes reek rather obstreperously of discrimination? And that sexism is the start of the slippery slope for the rape culture?
Which we are still confused whether MARD is against or not if it does not involve other men??!
Once you have a deeper understanding of this issue and recognize that even if ‘most does not mean all’, it still means that 99.9% such cases involve women and you do want to get involved in those too, then you may need a full time typist and PR person and we can recommend some very good ones for you. They have passed Summa cum Laude from the Sir Humphrey School for Secretarial and Media Communication.
We do need more men to join in the fight against sexism and misogyny and patriarchy and gender discrimination. But smart acronyms do not a feminist make. Neither does performing one scene in your sister’s film where you defend a woman being ‘allowed’ to work.
It doesn’t take too much of a ‘mard’ to defend his own chaddi-buddies and yaar-dost and it does enormous damage when the speaking out is so one sided. You may need to change your name to Men Against Rape and ‘Discrimination Against Nepotism’ and ‘Ganging up as Insiders’—MARDANGI.
As remarked in our earlier covering letter, we did use your letter to do a parsing exercise in our Advanced English class and found remarkable parallels also with Quentin Tarantino’s response to the Weinstein scandal where he mainly expressed his own sorrow at coping with the news rather than outrage about what had actually happened to women. https://ashleyjanssen.com/page/3/
Perhaps we could recommend some good books for the MARD office library which could help widen and deepen the perspective of the MARD staff on gender discrimination, censorship and the politics of gender: such as Vijay Tendulkar’s Sakharam Binder and Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex.
Founder and Coordinator
Voices Against Gender Insensitive Nepotism Alliances