Salman Khan is not the first, and he won’t be the last to use the analogy of rape, in jest.
But, let’s analyze the analogy, and, see if the connotations of rape work in the context. And, if it is an ‘apt’ analogy as someone says it is.
Let’s compare a woman who has been raped and the actor ‘feeling like a raped woman’ while shooting for a physically demanding action shoot.
- The woman had a physical crime committed against her will. He did not.
- She was sexually violated, and abused. She had someone or something, forcefully and brutally pushed, penetrated into her genitals. He didn’t.
- She was powerless. He wasn’t.
- Her emotional and psychological scars of rape will remain forever. He has none.
Thus far, it does not fit.
Also, as most rapes are unreported, she would carry it in silence forever. She wouldn’t speak about it publicly. She wouldn’t joke about it at a press conference. He did.
Let’s try the analogy another way, and see if it works then.
- He chose to act in the grueling scenes. She did not choose to be part of the act. It was acted upon her.
- His action in the film was orchestrated to make him look like a star. She will not know how to look at herself for a long time.
- He will win stupendous applause from his fans and the audience for his physically demanding training. She would be made to feel humiliated and shameful by the public for the physical submission demanded of her.
- He was punishing himself physically for glory. She was punished by a rapist who wanted to take away her dignity.
- His superficial physical wounds will heal quickly. Once the pain is gone, he will not remember it. She will bleed from the trauma for years, for decades.
- He charged a fortune for his scenes. She probably won’t even charge her rapist with the crime.
So, the analogy still, doesn’t work. It is certainly not ‘apt’.
‘Its only a joke’, ‘catch the rapists instead’ or just a ‘only a mental slip’ are the justifications we hear. Making a joke about rape certainly does not equate it to the crime committed, but it engenders the permissive attitude toward it. Words strengthen the attitude. When a CBI Director, a Bollywood superstar or M.P’s trivialize rape publicly, they not only dehumanize those who have been raped further, but, they embolden and spawn the mentality of those who joke about rape, those who have committed rape, and probably, those, who are considering raping, again.
It’s only words. No one is listening.
(Sudeep Kohli is a writer and former commissioning editor, Sage Publications and managing editor, Footprints Worldwide. She tweets at @SudeepKohli)