Viral Campaigns Gone Wrong

Viral video campaigns india

You know what gets my goat? The trend of a bunch of videos masquerading as “progressive” ending up screwing things so bad, that you want to tear your hair out. Especially those about sensitive topics like rape without much thought being put behind them.

The video above was passed on as some sort of a “social experiment” – while I feel if anything it’s an extremely poorly thought out “experiment”. The only thing that’s worth emphasizing in this video is if they could establish that none of the people who left called the cops. However in the given hypothetical, it’s extremely dangerous to thoughtlessly intervene – not just for them, but it could put the victim’s life at risk too. So one could understand why someone wouldn’t directly intervene in such a situation.

No excuse to not call the cops again, but that doesn’t seem to be their point when they ask: “Who was the real culprit? The beast inside the car or those who just walked off?” (to spell it out, it IS the “beast” regardless) Since it says “someone called the cops” – what if it was one of those who “shamelessly” fled the scene? They should have clarified these important aspects if one was to take this remotely seriously. And it was just a poor way to demonstrate the public apathy towards rape victims , which indeed is a problem.

And behold, it gets worse.

Let’s ignore the crass title for a second here (“Will you marry a raped girl?” – seriously?) – the video, while again, highlights the extremely misogynistic mindset of people at the beginning, goes on to state how they’ve found some “heroes” too. There’s nothing “heroic” about being a decent human being and not a misogynistic ass. While it’s a good change considering general perception towards rape victims in our society, posing it as somehow “heroic” is very problematic and perpetrates the existing notion that they’re doing some sort of “sacrifice” by marrying a rape victim. I don’t know if I can even give credit to them here for being “well intentioned”.

And finally this is the latest video that falls prey to the same thoughtlessness (although admittedly to a much lesser degree than the previous one) albeit having good potential is this video that’s gone viral oflate:

The video comes so close to properly acknowledging male privilege and ends up being borderline patronizing, essentialist, objectifying, despite the good intentions. No, women are not all “beautiful” or “sexy” – and they don’t have to be. They are NOT a monolith. They’re as complex and diverse as men are – that’s the message we should be conveying, instead of being extremely patronizing.

And while India is one of the worst place for women to be in, Saudi Arabia is NOT a safe place for women – it’s a far worse misogynistic dole than ours. There’s some perception among people that because of the harsh (and barbaric) punishments in Saudi Arabia it’s somehow “safer” for women. No it isn’t.  Rape is horribly underreported in Saudi Arabia and statistics on rape isn’t available for comparison.  

This video is perhaps most disappointing as it seeks to make a strong and relevant point and loses track big time.

So am I saying that these campaigns are useless? No, and at the same time I’m someone who thinks that projects like these are a good medium to nudge people in the right direction – it’s a good starting point. Which is why I so wish that they would put some thought into these things instead of thoughtlessly making problematic token videos that caters to the more progressive demographic (this being a fine example of how to do it right).

End of rant.

When will our Sex Negativity and Hypocrisy end?

While watching the film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, one thing I genuinely appreciated it for was the portrayal of marital rape. The scene is where Milkha Singh’s sister (played by Divya Dutta) is raped by her husband. Not just the fact that it showed something that most mainstream films refuse to address, but the way how it is portrayed as well was commendable. Her husband is shown as otherwise “well mannered bloke” – not the evil mythical rapist that waits women in the dark alleys during nights (which is ignored by most people as rape is often committed by perpetrators who are close to the victim). Anyways, IHM has a blog post here with some good comments, which I would recommend reading.

Now back to the post. When I was casually browsing through one of the frequently visited film review blogs, I saw this comment over there:


So apparently, the guy thinks it was a “sex scene” between her and her husband and showing it would “uncomfortable” to kids. Now I’m not blaming the guy, because he’s not the problem, he’s just the symptom of it. I have lost count of people who fail to understand the concept of marital rape and how wives can still be raped by their husbands.  I won’t get into the territory of movies where rapist marries the victim and it all gets fair and square in the end. Lumping any discussion regarding sex as vulgar is pretty convenient. But what is okay though, is the terrible objectification of women that’s being passed on as item song (the name says it all – where woman is considered an “item“), which has no relevance to the story, but mandatory to most movies these days. Promoting the worldview of woman being just a piece of flesh is perfectly fine, but oh no, god forbid let anyone see any healthy and extremely relevant portrayal of a heinous act on screen. This is not just limited to movies. People are perfectly fine with slut shaming women, but healthy discussion of sex or rape is not necessary at all. That’s all a given, as we are all enlightened beings already. There is no need for any “vulgar” discussions like that. That would be against our great culture and what not. Never go near the issues of misogyny, rape culture etc.

What we can do though, is get morally outraged when rapes are rampant and demand him to be hung or to be castrated. Our one sized solution for all problems. Why bother with all the hard part of having addressing the underlying problems at all?  Right fellas?