I’ve been thinking about starting this blog for a while now-there have been so many things I’ve wanted to write about, but I’ve been too scared. Taking the first step in doing anything at all is always frightening, but once that’s done, the next steps seem so much easier- and that’s exactly what I’m feeling right now. So many things have happened in the last few weeks that I’ve wanted to express opinions on, and now I’m just going to dive right into the latest incident (?) that’s made me question the kind of society we live in.
I woke up yesterday thanks to some really loud screaming on TV. Mom was watching the news, and anchors were yelling themselves hoarse on the verdict in Salman Khan’s hit and run case. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. I don’t know anything on the law and I can’t comment on whether the quantum of punishment was justified. I heard a lot of arguments on the news about how sentences in the Alistair Pereira case and the Sanjeev Nanda case were much lighter, given the fact that they had killed a larger number of people, and Salman had “only” killed one. I understand that “the law is reason free from passion” (no, I’m not an avid follower of Aristotle, I know the quote thanks to Legally Blonde), but this kind of utilitarian approach to human life did manage to shock me.
I obviously don’t know Salman personally, and I’m sure he is a lovely person who has done a lot for charity, but he did kill a man and has been duly punished. Of course I saw a lot of status updates expressing solidarity with “Bhai” (also I have a major problem with this infantilizing of grown men like Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt by calling them names like “Bhai” and “Baba”, as if it in any way absolves them of the crimes they have committed) , but I do understand it can be traumatic to see someone you love and idolize go to prison. But once again, not only did he kill a man, he also fled the scene, denied all charges, and last month, tried to get his driver to take the fall.
Now, the point I wanted to come to- we as a society tend to idolize sports persons and film stars, and so on to a point where we are blind to their flaws completely. Salman Khan has been breaking all kinds of laws for a while now, and PLEASE can we not forget that he serially abuses women-Somy Ali and Aishwarya Rai being two cases in point. I’ve read somewhere that Aishwarya Rai’s parents had to file a police complaint because Salman had been stalking her. Of course, he also abused her regularly. I hope you aren’t thinking, “Why didn’t they just leave”, because that discussion is going to require another post altogether. Let’s ask instead, why do we love and look up to this man who obviously has some serious anger issues? Why has Bollywood been rallying around him knowing he physically and emotionally abused one of “their own”?
Worldwide, men who regularly abuse women or have been accused of doing so in the past continue to be admired, continue to be cherished, continue to earn accolades, and continue to earn obscene amounts of money- Roman Polanksi, Eminem, Chris Brown, Charlie Sheen, Bill Cosby, and most recently, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, the two contenders in a multi-million dollar boxing bout that was broadcast worldwide.
I could go on and on but can we as a society please stop worshipping these men who are regularly violent against women? Can we please realize that women’s experiences count? Before we go looking for answers, we need to look into ourselves and start asking the right questions.