Privilege does not consider your caste, your faith, your race or your account balance. However, your gender does reward you this Privilege giving you a licence to override the other genders – now that would be a sense of entitlement every man conceived, born, raised and dies has served to him as a society, god-ordained right. Like any privilege, uncontested acceptance of wants, demands and assertions of the privileged party is a natural outcome. Just like his worn shoe, the sink in which he washes his soiled hands, the land he tills, the woman becomes a part of his privileged entitlement.
Historically, wars have been won and lost, trade deals have been forged, Empires and villages alike have been ransacked, and one of the gained of lost property for men has been women. One half of the population has managed to enslave the other half and reduced them to a commodity. And as commodities go, they aren’t to have a point of view, no opinion, no consent they get passed around, traded, ransacked, won and lost. That part of history still exists worldwide, and in societies where we may think such things never happen where I live, think again. The male privilege takes another form, but it never goes away.
The power of privilege is empowering to the man, so much that he often forgets that the woman has agency, a free will and as any breathing, living human should be, has a choice. One of the choices she has is consent, this verbal or non-verbal way of communicating that she is not interested in what is on offer. How many times have we heard, known, experienced a woman saying no, and that being seen, understood and acted upon as a yes?
This is not because men have no clear definition of yes or no and thus cannot differentiate between the two terms, this inability to decode acceptance and decline of a proposition by a woman is strongly linked to privilege that makes a man, not take no for an answer.
As an actor, it is my job to melt into a character and bring a story to life and believe me when I tell you that it is not an easy business for anyone, especially when you are a woman, but one must do what they must to live their dream, make their livelihood. Last year, encouraged, inspired and hurt, women came out, one after another across industries, cinema, art, advertising, corporates, each with their own story, they said in unison – Times Up! I’m not your worn shoe, your sink in which you wash your soiled hands, the land that you till, I am not interested, I have a free will, and I said NO, which means NO! This was not a feminist movement, it was a human rights movement.
It is expected of people in public space, like movie actors, to have a view on major events, movements, and their silence is frowned upon. When we do express our views, if it is contrary to populist views, we are asked to put on our make-up and dance on the screen and leave the thinking and commentary on the educated and the hooligans. When the time came, and the ability to bear came to a breaking point, when women who have seen their mothers’, grandmothers’ nos becoming yes, and they themselves become a part of the same narrative – they said – this is it. I said this is it. If I have to shame you, tag you, out you, drag you out into the world – we will, with or without your consent sir!