Rani Mukerji spoke on #MeToo and disappointed all of us
For the actresses roundtable, Bollywood actresses, whose work stood out in 2018, sat down and chatted. Journalist Rajeev Masand was joined by Alia Bhatt, Taapsee Pannu, Tabu, Anushka Sharma, Deepika Padukone, and Rani Mukerji. Obviously, a lot was discussed, including the #MeToo movement, which finally arrived in India this year. But more than anything else, Rani's regressive and appalling views on #MeToo got attention.
Let's first tell you what happened. All the aforementioned actresses were asked to look back into the year, the choices they made and the lessons it taught. Taapsee said a memorable and not a longer role is her priority, Deepika accepted she doesn't regret Padmaavat despite reviewers calling it regressive, and Alia mentioned her gut feeling told her Raazi would do well.
Soon the elephant in the room was addressed and Rajeev asked what their views were on the topic. The journalist said that when actors sat for the roundtable this year, Ranveer Singh said men are scared these days, and rightly so. Giving her two cents on the movement, Alia hoped it doesn't become a reason for people to stop hiring women. A genuine concern.
Then Rani spoke and not very good words, we must say. The actress ended up putting the onus on women to protect themselves. Rani said women should be strong enough to defend themselves and stop advances then and there. She advocated slapping the predator, kicking him between legs, and said, "We need to tell women (who aren't strong enough) to change."
Disagreeing with Rani, Anushka said she was passing the responsibility to women and not speaking on how men need to respect boundaries. Deepika concurred too. She noted not all women have the courage to react the way Rani advised. The Hichki actress said martial arts should be made compulsory, and Deepika asked why should it come to that. Deepika and Anushka clearly tried reasoning.
Deepika, Anushka, And Alia really were making great points while Rani here makes martial arts noises. You can’t make this shit up. pic.twitter.com/sceqsEj71N— Doe (@doepikapadukone) December 29, 2018
While Rani is entitled to her opinion, her views are definitely problematic. In her bid to call for self-defense, Rani took away the responsibility from predators, quite easily, and put it on victims. What she conveniently forgot was that #MeToo stemmed from power abuse. Women/men who lie low in the food chain don't have it in them to slap the predator, who is usually at a powerful position. If only Rani paid attention to Deepika's words.
Rani's views are all the more baffling as she said the victims should act when they are being harassed. As we have seen in many cases, the women spoke up after years. From Vinta Nanda (assaulted by Alok Nath) to Pallavi Gogoi (who was allegedly raped by MJ Akbar), the women stayed quiet for years. Shame, fear, and trauma emboldened the silence.
We may be stepping into 2019, after a taxing year, but women are still being asked to learn self-defense as they are 'responsible' for what happens to them. It seems unreal, now. While this year gave several victims courage and made society introspect, comments like Rani's show there is still a long way to. But, we are not losing hope. 2019, bring it on!