As Deepika Padukone’s #MyChoice video is creating quite a debate in the country, here’s what our reader Nalin Rai thinks about what defines choice and what kind of choices are we aspiring to.
While colors in all hues dominate our lives, something that is captured in black and white rivets attention immediately. Take the examples of all-time great cinema, and many of them belong to the black and white era. This perhaps could be one reason why the video starring Deepika Padukone with the tagline #mychoice has gone so viral.
The video currently is being viewed as the ultimate source of nirvana – nirvana through “empowerment” – as proscribed through the different images of female film stars led by Deepika Padukone who are advocating their world view of the idea of empowerment on camera.
The moot point however is – is “empowerment” only associated with independence about indulging in bodily pleasures, one way or the other? Or is empowerment something beyond the satisfaction of desires and aspirations of the physical self, the kind which are perhaps not being satiated in the present set up, and hence this clarion call?
Is the current dosage of empowerment a supposed manifestation of sexual regression that exists in the society and, through this expression, a warning bell is being sounded to break the shackles and indulge in satiation? The choice to have physical relationships of one’s own choice is arrived at when one has attained economic and social empowerment. When one talks of #mychoice, the choice or the independence to exercise the choice should be initiated with the kind of education that one wishes to pursue. Most of the actors and models that have been featured in this video have had very successful careers and have leveraged on their education to gain a foothold in the society and reach where they have reached.
Another aspect of this expression is the fact that the notion of choice, as is manifested through the divas of the world of glamour in this video, may find resonance with the upper crust of the society.
However if the idea is to inject and pave the way for real empowerment, then the models that need to be used should be those who belong to the real India, who have made their mark against all odds and have also empowered others also in the process of their growth.
Empowerment does not come just from choosing the clothes that one wants to wear. Empowerment is about changing the mindset – mindset of the society – more so of the male types.
Empowerment is not only relegated to the choice of having sex with partners of one’s own choosing, but to educate about the need for sexual education so that the freedom to have sex with partners does not manifest only as a by-product of marriage as it happens in most of the cases in our country.
The sheer fact that the phenomenal success of this video is amongst the youth of the country is a clear pointer to the fact that they are really frustrated with societal norms and are more than ready for a change.
Pritha Sen, a friend and a keen observer on such issues, has rather put it succinctly – the idea of the film may have been about women regaining control over their minds and bodies and individuality. Every line was right, but then the corollaries were missing, and that’s where it became apparent that the filmmakers had failed to understand the issue at hand. The available choices are gender neutral and work both ways if there is mutual respect and understanding. To get some, you have to give some and it cannot be one-sided either way. True, many women, especially the poorer sections of society live without choices, but for an upper class film like this, the middle path should have been stressed – the mutual reaching out and respecting of each other’s boundaries and choices.
Watch the video here-
Is the freedom to have sex outside marriage a sign of empowerment? I feel that rather than advocating something vague and ambiguous as this, Deepika and the other women in this video should rather focus on changing the provisions of IPC 497 which reads:
497. Adultery.— Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the WIFE OF ANOTHER MAN without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is GUILTY of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such cases, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.
Now is this the empowerment that we wish to aspire for?