Tanushree Dutta’s allegations of sexual harassment against Nana Patekar have spread like wildfire in Bollywood and the entire nation. Mahima Kukreja has also accused stand-up comedian Utsav Chakraborty for acts of similar nature.
While Nana Patekar is yet to give a statement, we can conclude from his 2008 interview, that he does not understand what happened and what Tanushree felt. All of this was just too dirty for him to react since Tanushree is ‘beti jaisi’ for him.
On the other hand, Utsav reacted instantly and probably in a rushed state which is evident from his weird apology where he turned out to be the ‘victim’, according to him.
Good news: AIB issued a statement on this with an apology, no excuse, supporting zero tolerance policy on such misconducts and offering to cooperate further on this matter. Kunal Kamra has issued his version too which is better than silence and actually what is expected from an ally. #WokeMillennials or so we think.
Bad news: Bollywood is turning out to be pretty old-school in their reaction, and most oldies like Amitabh, Aamir, Salman, Shakti Kapoor have dodged questions from the media and pretended to be clueless. They seem to be suddenly looking towards law on the social issue of sexual harassment in the workplace like it’s a new concept to them. Somewhat relieving is Bollywood’s younger generation, the woke millennials who have at least reacted with much more maturity, without taking sides by emphasising that the issue is severe enough to be talked about. They spoke about better policies, attitudes, and handling of such matters and the need to be more active while dealing with such incidents.
Regardless of what happens in the future, what we now see is that the apologists’ response to such allegations seem like they have no clue about how their actions have affected their victims. And when someone points this out, how do they react? Well, in a way that makes them look stupid and immature. So, here’s an open letter to them:
Dear Nana, Utsav and the likes,
When a woman says she felt uncomfortable with your touch or straight up shows you screenshots of your messages and unsolicited dick pics to her as evidence to her claims, here’s what you can do:
It is natural to feel defensive or attacked in a situation like this when the woman (who was supposed to be a complicit and polite creature historically under a patriarchal regime where power dynamics play a crucial role) raises her voice and talks about sexual misconduct/assault/abuse she faced at your hands. While you know best in your heart what you did, sometimes it is also possible that what you thought was ‘normal’ (due to social conditioning growing up in the patriarchal society or a cave) or ‘non-offensive’ may have come across to the woman as offensive.
First of all, listen to the whole story, the complete allegation before you start acting clueless or defensive. Sometimes even if you may not have intended to assault ‘on purpose’, to her, your touch must have come across as such. So listen first, step in her shoes and try to understand where she is coming from.
Acknowledging your actions is a decent and respectful way to react when facing allegations. Whether you did what you did purposefully or not, the least you can do now is acknowledge what happened and that you are apologetic.
When you say you’re ‘sorry’, you do not need to follow it up with a ‘but’. When you keep pushing your story it counts as defending yourself and looking for excuses. It’s not a real apology. If you are unapologetic for what you did, that’s totally up to you. But if you say you are apologetic, then understand what an apology is. Any number of excuses you offer, and worse, if you turn out to make yourself the victim, you are not doing it right.
Your sad story or whatever genuine mental health issues you are facing or abusive experiences you have faced, do not give you the license to abuse others. There is no excuse for abuse period.
With an apology, plainly and simply, put yourself out there and offer to cooperate. Ask how can you make it right. What is it that they want from you? Trust me; this will make things easier for both the sides rather than demeaning each other, calling names, self-victimising or seeking support from political parties.
And by promise I mean, a ‘gentleman’s word’. Your sorry does not mean much if you go around and do the same thing when the lights are off. Whether or not someone is watching or capable of complaining, mind your actions. Change for real.
Guys, is it really that difficult to understand CONSENT?
I shall make it easy for you. Imagine a person you are working with who touches you inappropriately or sends you pictures of their genitals. The way you cringe and react now – that’s exactly how women feel and how quickly women pick on the verbal and non-verbal cues that YOU dismiss.
P.S. Nana Ji, Tanushree is a grown woman and was one back then in 2008 when she accused you. Constantly referring to her as ‘bachi‘ and ‘beti’ is belittling and condescending. Of course, it is a garb that you use to create an image in the minds of viewers of a decent ‘fatherly figure’. Kindly, treat women as human beings and respect us like that. We don’t have to be your sisters, daughters or mothers all the time.