In Defence Of The “Mad” Woman

I am vehemently against sensationalising clickbait fodder, but a certain narrative that towers on regressive methods of outcasting a successful, independent woman has been spewing across my TV screen for the past one year. To defame Kangana has become a solid case for easy views and TRP. I honestly do not know which side is right, because right and wrong are relative concepts to different people.

To ascertain anything based on our limited understanding of events would be a categorical mistake. But, as a woman who has been made to feel all shades unwanted by a former partner, I can solidly say that the easiest way to co-opt emotional abuse, mental trauma and gaslighting in a relationship is to label the woman mad. Perhaps she feels too much, perhaps she emotes too much. And all that is plain “madness” when it is comfortable for the man to absolve himself of a failure to own up to the fact that he threw the relationship away.

Honestly, this “madwoman in the attic” (Refer Feminist writers Gilbert & Gubar) trove that talks of a woman, mostly an outsider with an excess of emotions as the epicentre for all madness is a tried and tested one when all logical arguments fail. The very fact that we need to harp back to labelling a woman neurotic in order to establish our own argument’s legitimacy, when there is so much discourse and talk around owning up to and releasing your emotions unapologetically brings out an ugly paradox.

I have written a lot of emails to a former partner too, and perhaps those are gestures one does out of love or acts of intimacy or hopes of reconciliation. The irrational pain of something ending, something that is very much part of a private universe between two people must be respected as a human emotion. Different people deal with endings differently, and as a mature society, we must allow them the space to put forth their brand of the truth.

Putting the nature of her alleged relationship aside, whenever there’s been a strong stance taken up by the actress, she has been at the receiving end of a lot of flak which ultimately falls in line with the “mad woman” tag. Be it her difference of opinion with Shahid Kapoor, or the nepotism debate, I am yet to see privileged male actors come up with any logical rebuttals (Saif’s open letter was a mockery of logic, to say the least, drawing upon Nazi terminology) with anything other than the “M” word surrounding the woman from head to toe.

A lot of female contemporaries have spoken out on the issue too and offered generous “please move on” advice.

According to me, the individual concerned with the relationship has the sole right to ascertain their definition of closure. Some choose to keep a lot of love alive while some sever it completely and both are distinct individual choices and perfectly okay. In offering ABC algorithms on what she must do as an adult, the industry is undermining her capacity to think for herself, which is a long drawn argument feminist thinkers have been advocating for.

The basis of all gender bias is the deep-seated belief that women need to be infantilised to such a degree that we assume they need constant lessons on how to deal with their bodies, their emotions and their lives. Oftentimes, women do patriarchy’s dirty work and take up the baton of “guiding the lost female through”

Funnily nobody ever told Salman Khan or Ranbir Kapoor to stop making snide remarks on their common exes. Nobody ever offered them sound advice or open letters, and almost everybody left the matter alone, to the sound judgement of the two big Bollywood hegemons in question.

The fact that Republic TV and some other media portals chose to call BJP spokespersons to debate the issue nationally at a time where people die in stampedes, derailments and bank queues also only signals our misplaced national interests.

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