This week, when Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar of Trinamool Congress called Congress MP Deepa Dasmunsii a “nachaniya” and made fun of her way of dressing and her big bindi, we all cringed. How could a woman hit out at another woman for wearing makeup and a harmless bindi? Dastidar’s exact words were: “There is a nachuniya in Congress. Wearing makeup doesn’t make you a good leader, wearing bindi doesn’t make you a good leader”. Strangely enough, the archaic symbol of suhaag had been turned into a means of looking down upon one woman by another.
On the same day during a media interaction, Aditi Rao Hydari, the lead actress in Murder 3 was asked about the sex appeal of the first two leading ladies of the Murder franchise, i.e Mallika Sherawat and Jaqueline Fernandes. Aditi’s answer took everyone by surprise. She said “You need steel in your soul and not silicon in your boobs”. Clearly she was hitting out at Mallika Sherawat. Although on the surface the statement appeared to be a bold one, atypical of a Bhatt-camp actress, it came laced with contempt for women who had used silicone implants to enhance a part of the body that is associated with their oomph factor.
The inordinate link between the two very different statements, made in completely different contexts and by two women who are in different professions and different social milieus, is that both women use elements associated with “enhancing feminine beauty” to hit out at their contemporaries. While Dastidar finds wearing a big round bindi unbecoming of a good woman politician, Hydari thinks women with silicon implants are fake and only the naturally-endowed can be sensual. Like men have certain ideas about what women should be like, women too have certain ideas about what women should be like. In a patriarchal society, these statements do not come as a surprise even from women. I have heard my mother say many-a-time that good girls never wear red lipstick.
Dastidar’s statement has expectedly faced flak from feminists and she has been criticised as a “jealous witch”. But Hydari has escaped unnoticed, unscathed. Yet, her statement has made it clear that the honeybees of Bollywood who have no qualms in talking about their private parts, can be as vindictive in nature as a woman from small-town Barasat who uses her adversary’s sartorial sense to take a political dig at her.
When we juxtapose these two statements, we see that in the veneer of our modernity, we are carrying the vestiges of a patriarchal society in our public discourse. Only that the rather innocuous “bindi” has been replaced by the more offensive “silicon implant”. The statements are a reflection of many dichotomies of a confused society that is progressing, but not with an open mind, that is embracing new ideas, but not with open arms. Perhaps there is cynicism at work and rightly so. In a rapidly changing world you do not know what change to keep and what to do away with. It creates a dangerous situation, where rather than become more progressive, we are becoming a bit more subtle and sophisticated in our misogyny. As has been amply displayed by the likes of Hydari and Dastidar.
Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/littlemisspurps/7057972923/]