Saturday, November 9, 2013

The victim-blaming of Shweta Menon

Sometimes there are just those news stories that seriously light a fire under Madh Mama's ass....and the recent Shweta Menon case is one of them!

For those of you who don't know, Shweta Menon is a Malayalee actress who was recently at a public event (a boat race), where she was groped and molested by a sexual predator - who just happened to be Indian politician N Peethambara Kurup (Congress MP). Part of it was even caught on camera, where it is clearly noticeable that although it was a crowded place, this politician was forcibly rubbing himself on her from behind, and Shweta is startled and embarrassed. 

My first reaction was, "HELLO people! Somebody tell that pervert to back off!" Had nobody seen what he was doing? Or did they just "not want to get involved" (how oh-so-typically Indian...)


(Video of part of the assault on tape)

Alas, not even a video of the assault can deter misogynists from their conspiracy theories. Some said that Shweta was trying to pull a "publicity stunt" - really? Oh of course she was! Because a woman would TOTALLY want to risk her entire career to be victim-blamed, her credibility questioned, not to mention the social stigma. The press AND the public is literally crucifying her for being a victim of a sexual assault. And why is it...that nobody has accused the politician who had done it as a publicity stunt? He's the one that did it in the first place - she was just standing there (apparently as a "sexual object")  - why should he not get accused for causing a "publicity stunt"?

One thing that bothered me about this case, is that all eyes on on Shweta. Literally. All the news stories are about her reactions, her films - and not one story is shoving a camera in that politician's face. Where the heck is he? It seems he - the sexual predator - has just simply disappeared out of the equation! Shouldn't people be focusing on him for the crime that he has committed? This predator has already gotten away with the crime!

There is also a huge misconception in India that actresses (who are not from an oh-so privileged Bollywood-bloodline) are essentially like prostitutes and have to sleep with directors to get roles. This is actually a common thought - my husband even said the same thing when I asked him about Bollywood actresses. If they want to sleep with directors, that is their prerogative, to be honest. But that doesn't mean that their credibility should be questioned, or that they deserve to be molested by whomever or wherever. Just because she does a sexy dance on screen, does not mean that it's for you, predators!!! (she's just dancing!)

I was really proud that Shweta stood up and was brave enough to file a complaint to the police. BUT....then two days later, Shweta withdrew the complaint and refused to press charges.
Why? She forgave him for his age!!!!!

"He is a 73-year-old man"  
(Wow, same age bracket as Asaram Bapu who is also a sexual predator!)

(What about NOT taking the advice from anybody who tells you that you don't have basic human rights?)

"In the wake of Mr Peethambara Kurup's repeated public and personal apology..."
(If he wasn't guilty to begin with, then why so much apologizing?)

And instead, she blames the person who invited her to the function for not providing proper security. Really?!?!?! So, you excuse the sexual predator for essentially being an "elderly" pervert (duh...still a pervert!!!) and instead blame someone who had nothing to do with the assault. Since when do women need security to be protected from sexual predators? (Oops, I forgot this is India we are talking about here - where not even the presence of a male chaperone can't save you from getting raped with an iron rod) Furthermore, it implies this ridiculous (Indian) mindset, that you should respect your elders - no matter what they do to you. No matter their behaviour. Because they are simply elder to you - they are right...? (I'm not even going to begin on how much wiser children naturally are, than elders)

The excuse of being elderly is not better than the excuse of being "a man". Both are excuses that society makes, instead of holding the abuser accountable for his actions. Substitute the "elderly" excuse for "brahmin", "millionaire", or "my father" - still doesn't negate the fact that a predator is a predator - no matter what. There are NO excuses. And that is exactly what kind of society breeds lack of justice, victim-blaming and so-called "uncontrollable" predators, who are essentially given a free-pass every single time, all the while everybody gets affected by the abuse. Just because it's such a big deal to hold an abuser accountable for his actions...? You know what else is a big deal? All the people who suffer in silence and shame....forever.

You know what I would like to see a news story on? I'd like to see a story digging into this politician's past and every other sexual predator to expose them. There are so many Indian politicians with rape charges against them - and this is who you want in charge? This is who you elect??? (260 candidates are accused of crimes against women...go figure)

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Nevertheless, internet commenters surely don't disappoint. Among the illuminating, barf-inducing comments were:

"So now even touching can be a criminal offence. This lady should not travel or be in public places or she will have so many others touching her. Is she something more special then the other ladies or does she have something more special then the others" (link)

"Over reaction by a glamorous actress who suddenly turned in to Sita. It was just a small scratch of shoulders and the place was crowded. Nothing wrong." (Link)

"This is just a politics nothing else" (Link)

"After acting in thousand of Vulgar movies and scenes...she got Free Authentic good publicity now....And you are saying the MLA shud not look at her in Vulgairty and instead give her some bharat ratna to this maha devi ? (besides...she is too too hot!! )" (Link)


"Though it was bad on the part of Congress leader to misbehave with woman. But touching and hugging is becoming a routine now a days." (Link) ---> no discernation between what is appropriate touching/inappropriate touching - respect of personal space


"It is her business she got the enjoyment plus a very big sum of money." (Link) --> Enjoyment? Try humiliation!!!

"Isn't she the one who dances with guys for money??" (Link)

"I just googled shweta menon. And now I don't blame the MP anymore." (Link) --> So anybody who is remotely attractive deserves to be be assaulted?

"Everyone in the country knows that she is desperately trying hog the limelight with this petty issue. Most of the country don't even know who the 'devil' she is. It is time she gave her mouth some rest." (Link) --> Yes, sexual assault - such a petty issue, right?


"Keep away yourself from any public gathering. If you think just touching a molestion. Being a public figure, you must avoid all these petty things." (Link) --> The moral of the story is just to stay indoors, imprisoned!


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One of the repeated arguments that many of these commenters are saying, is stating that a sexual assault - which is a crime against a woman - is a "petty issue". I even had one internet troll come over to my blog the other day, stating that I should "focus more on the Indian economy than women's rights" (obviously they are too daft to notice that a stable economy goes hand in hand with women's rights - Kofi Annan: “No tool for development is more effective than the empowerment of women.”)

Another repeated argument is that "she should not go out to public places" - the solution is to imprison the woman inside her home, sort of like a house-plant! Because apparently she did something wrong just by stepping out of the house (ring a bell? Jyothi was told the same!), which is AGAIN blaming the victim and not the abuser. How about - the abusers should not go out? Since they are the ones committing the offenses - how about arresting them and throwing away the key?

I respect Shweta's decision to regretfully withdraw her complaint - but I wish she wouldn't have made excuses for him. And I wish the police would pursue this matter, regardless as to whether she has withdraw it or not. This type of sexual predator should NOT be in politics or in any position of authority, whatsoever.

So - with all of this - if a well-known, successful actress faces this much victim-blaming, you can only imagine how difficult it is for an average woman. All of this is literally the tip of the iceberg of what kind of hell an average woman would face....a sad reality.

Of course, as usual, I had to consult my trusted Indian MIL on her opinion on this matter. So, what did she say? "It is all quite natural....This is India, there are so many people like that" (then she makes a plugging-ear gesture...)

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So, what do you think, dear readers? What do you think of the "elderly" excuse? What do you think of these misogynistic politicians?


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4 comments

  1. The misogyny and blaming the molested instead of the molester are nothing new.

    I am deeply disappointed with her going back and saying the man is old etc. This is stupid. Couldn't this have been made into an awareness campaign of how public spaces are not for the average woman instead of making a fool of herself and this entire molesting issue.

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    Replies
    1. When you go on to call the victim in this sordid debacle, stupid and claim that she is made a fool of herself are you not guilty of victim blaming as well?! ...

      The victim here still is Swetha Menon, our system is so very screwed up, and we so constantly find fault and ruin the victims life, that often they choose to pull out to keep away from the limelight. In country that is power hungry with corrupt officials that would readily make your life a living hell can you blame her to safe guard her interests?!

      THE ONLY person that we should be blaming is the 'perpetrator' of the crime and the SYSTEM/society that has enabled the perpetrator to get away scot-free.

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    2. Firstly, I do not like the the word victim because it takes the power away from the person. Note that I did not use the word victim in the first place.

      Our system is screwed up and I base my judgement on forgiving the man "because of his age." If someone says something and then goes back on their statement, their credibility does come into question. I would be like - why should I support them & fight for them, when they can back out any moment?

      This judgement is irrespective of gender. If the person refuses to pursue the case in court & instead claims to forgive them, what can the judge do? Fight that the society let the person go scot free?

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    3. I really wish that the police/courts would continue with the charge, even if she withdrew. I feel bad for her.
      It was almost as if she had an ingrained misogyny by giving him the excuse that he was aged. She knew it was wrong what he did to her because she reported it, but then I guess people convinced her otherwise.
      At least she reported it in the first place, which is better than what the average woman would have done probably.
      I wish all these criminal politicians to be immediately prohibited from running for office. With crimes against women they do not deserve to be in a position of authority. No wonder the whole system is screwed, with crooks like that in charge. Ugh.

      Delete

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