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The Hyprocrisy Of Kangana Ranaut In The Name Of #MeToo

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Today, feminism is identified with the likes of Kangana Ranaut, forgetting all about social reformers such as Savitribai Phule and Fatima Sheikh. Feminism has been reduced to bold statements and personal life issues of celebrities and about justifying wrong decisions. Such things can only be an extension of the concept of feminism but can form the core of this movement.

Under the #MeToo movement, a statement by Kangana Ranaut on Hrithik Roshan came yesterday – that said ‘people should not work with him as he kept his wife as a trophy and indulged in relationships with younger women’.

Her recent statement has context, according to Kangana she dated Hrithik while he was still married. So, this implies that a movie star like Kangana was so immature and helpless, that all the burden of this extramarital relationship shifts on the man. Is it the right thing to say? Is this what feminism means? Is it only the duty of a married man? Does it not demand morality on the girl’s part who chose to indulge with a married man? Is the #MeToo movement about women finding faults with men they dated in the past or about sexual predators preying on vulnerable women?

How is Hrithik Roshan wrong in dating while being married and Kangana Ranaut right in dating a married man?

Recently, the whole society fought for making the Adultery law gender-neutral, and the highest court of the country said that Section 497 was found on the concept that a woman loses her individuality once she is married. The court observed that under this law women were treated like the husband’s property.

Earlier, if a married woman indulged in adultery, her husband had the right to take legal measures against the man involved with his wife, shifting all the burden of the extramarital relation on the man – sparing the woman and hence, making her the property of her husband. A woman had no right to take legal action against her husband and the woman he was involved with if a man indulged in adultery.

What Kangana is doing, has a lot of essence of section 497. She shifts the burden of adultery on the man, sparing herself and ignoring the impact her action (indulging with a married man) had on the wife of the man she was involved with. It is his wife’s right to hold him and Kangana accountable for adultery. But what Kangana is trying to do is shift the blame entirely on the man.

Is it not the responsibility of a woman to empathise with other women? If Kangana considers herself a feminist, was it not her responsibility to empathise with Hrithik’s wife and not choose to be in a relationship that can severely impact another woman? Is feminism not about solidarity?

This hypocrisy has led to women being the carriers of patriarchy. A woman imposing patriarchy on other women, for example – the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship; a woman competing with other women over a man and indulging in character assassination of each other; women propagating rumours about each other out of culturally ingrained ideas of patriarchy – that teach women to be jealous of one another; one woman indulging with another’s husband and shifting the blame only on the man etc have all been the product of the same.

Choosing to date a married man is right and dating even after being married is wrong, what sort of hypocrisy is this?

Does feminism not demand morality from the women? Or it’s all justified as movies like “Lipstick under my burkha” endorse. To have the right to make mistakes, does not mean throwing morality away in the trashcan. And by morality here, I do not wish to narrow it down to fidelity, which is only expected from a woman. There is a broader meaning to morality that involves the elements of humanism, sisterhood, empathy and compassion.

If Kangana wants people to stop working with Hrithik, for his infidelity, then she should also do the same as an equal partner. Is feminism not about equality? Or has it been reduced to women posing as victims where there is no victimisation – forgetting the fact it was personal choices made by two adults?

Reducing feminism to personal affairs and choices is a crime towards women empowerment.

#MeToo movement where on the one hand there are spine-chilling experiences of Vinta Nanda and Saloni Chopra, and on the other hand – are relationships that went sour and now women using the #MeToo space seemingly as a revenge tactic against their exes. We need to understand what this movement is about and what it should not be labelled as. We need to call out fake feminism, that has much to do with class and personal affairs than gender-based issues.

I disagree with Kangana Ranaut and call her out for using the women card to her likeness. Be it the case of accusing Sonu Sood of quitting Manikarnika, or targeting Roshan for personal reasons, the ease with which she uses the women card is not just worrying, but also against this women’s movement itself. She has no right to name her endeavours and interests as broader concerns of feminism.

While respecting her struggles as a small town girl in a nepotism-filled industry, I cannot sympathise with her on every count – because she does not have the liberty to use women card as and when she likes to do it.

It’s time we stop encouraging such pseudo-feminists and demarcate the liberties that can be taken in the name of feminism.

It’s about me, about you, about every woman across all the classes, castes and communities, who don’t have the luxury to indulge in affairs with married filmstars and use their privileged stance to call out their exes unnecessarily under #MeToo.

Feminism and related movements are about fighting for equal rights for women and fighting against the oppression of women as a whole and not about a personal affair gone wrong. It’s about women empowerment and not about playing the ‘woman card’. It’s about a woman who became the victim of mental and sexual harassment by a man from her neighbourhood, office, peer group or sometimes by her partner, and not about an actress struggling to seek revenge.

It’s high time we call out every woman like Kangana who uses her agency as a woman to undermine the cause of feminism and powerful movements like #MeToo.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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