This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Lipi Mehta. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Cringe Watch: 8 Regressive Things Rani Mukerji Said About #MeToo At One Go

More from Lipi Mehta

Last night, I happened to watch the ‘The Actresses Roundtable 2018’ – an annual feature by film critic Rajeev Masand – on YouTube. The 1-hour video celebrates some bold voices and memorable films that made a mark this year. It also marks the return of Rani Mukherjee (with ‘Hichki’), who was last seen on screen four years ago. One of the main topics of the discussion is #MeToo, the movement that shook India this year, with women speaking out on sexual violence and harassment, and naming the perpetrators. Everyone knows Bollywood was (rightly) jolted too.

Rani dominated most of the discussion on #MeToo, with her awful, regressive views. I was wondering if I’d heard correctly when I heard her tell women to take responsibility of their own actions, to learn martial arts (umm, what?), and then blame women (the mothers who raise boys incorrectly), for the awful actions of men. Let me break this down here.

Cringe #1: “As a woman, you have to be that powerful within yourself, you have to believe that you’re so powerful, that if you come into a situation like that, you have the courage to say, ‘Back off!'”

Sorry, what? “Power within yourself” isn’t a switch that you can just turn on, and which will drive potential harassers and rapists away. We live in a country where an act of sexual violence happens every few minutes and where the understanding of consent is still not a reality. If this ‘method’ worked, we wouldn’t need a law against sexual violence. Rani speaks from a place of utmost privilege, assuming that this so-called inherent power switch will ‘save’ women. She is ignorant of how saying “Back off!” isn’t an option when several crimes are perpetrated by men misusing positions of power. She also forgets how thousands of survivors of violence are from marginalised communities, and how an act of violence can shake you, and make you fear for your very life. It’s like saying Nirbhaya should have called the rapists ‘Bhaiya’. These approaches blame survivors and completely take the onus away from men to not harass and assault women in the first place.

Cringe #2: “Everything relates to what you want out of your life.”

NO ONE ‘wants’ to be raped and harassed and assaulted and stalked. Real life isn’t always like ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne where what you get, is what you attract. Let’s not give a philosophical spin to sexual violence, please.

Cringe #3: “Obviously the way my voice is, and the way I look, half the people run away with that only.”

Why crack a self-deprecating ‘joke’ about this issue? It perpetuates stereotypes about which ‘kind of women’ are harassed. Not a single other woman on the table is amused when Rani says this. The lack of a reaction is the best reaction in this case.

Cringe #4: “It is important for women to believe in themselves and say, if they don’t want this to happen, it’ll not happen.”

WHAT? Thousands of #MeToo stories across the world have been shared only in the past year. Did all of us ever believe this would happen to us? Did we always believe that some of our friends, our relatives, employers, colleagues, influencers, actors we admired, and our lawmakers and law enforcers would turn out to be harassers and rapists? Rani’s holier-than-thou speech is alienating and highly ignorant.

Created by Lipi Mehta

Does Rani Mukherjee's problematic take on sexual violence make you cringe? 

Cringe #5: “Kick him between his legs and give him a jhaapad of his lifetime, that he remembers ki ‘Yeh ladki ne maara tha’, so he remains fearful and doesn’t do it to the ladies hereforth. You have to have the courage to protect yourself.”

That is again, no solution to how real and widespread sexual violence is. It completely puts the onus on women by telling them they are responsible of their own protection, forgetting that no one should ever feel unsafe in the first place. Rani is ignorant of the power dynamics at play, how cornered and vulnerable one can feel, how scared and shaken one can feel. “Kick him” and “give him a jhaapad” are no real and practical solutions to fight how deeply rooted violence and harassment is.

Cringe #6: “[The women who feel cornered] are the women we need to talk to and say, ‘Yaar, you guys need to change.'”

At this point, it’s only been a few minutes since Rani started, and I’m exhausted already. Kya saviour complex hai aur kya survivor-blaming hai. First, tell women to put on their “power switch” and drive sexual violence away AND then change yourselves and learn how to give a jhaapad to men. Sab kaam women only have to do. The perpetrators here are no where in the picture, because yaar, boys will be boys. Thank goodness for Anushka Sharma at this point, who jumps in and politely points out the problem.

Cringe #7: “In school na, please make martial arts compulsory.” *thak thak thak*

Deepika Padukone rightly responds, “We’re now jumping ahead and talking about self-defence. I am saying, why should it even get to that stage?” Sure, anyone who wants to learn martial arts, totally should. It’s a great, empowering skill. But to learn martial arts to have to protect yourself from violence? It’s a very problematic take that blames women, establishes a wrong notion of ‘strength’, and completely takes the onus away from the perpetrators of the violence. To make it worse, Rani even acts out a few karate chops – while again, no one reacts.

Cringe #8: “It is women who are making these boys, who are doing this.” 

Rani moves on to blaming mothers now. Throughout this whole time, she doesn’t pause once to put the onus on a single man. Why are we saying that women are responsible for shaping and transforming and ‘correcting’ the men in their lives? We don’t want this labour and baggage and we never asked for it, just like we never asked to be harassed. Ultimately, Rani is saying that women are only responsible for the horrible things that other women have to face.

Created by Lipi Mehta

What is the best way to fight sexual violence according to you?

Watch from 34:40 here if you want to feel the cringe for yourself:

Featured image source: CNN-News 18/YouTube.
You must be to comment.

More from Lipi Mehta

Similar Posts

By Zainab Khan

By Arun Kr Jaiswal

By Snayini Das

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below