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

#ViolenceIsNotFilmy: The ‘Hyper-Masculine’ Hero Is A Threat To All Women

More from Breakthrough India

Trigger Warning: This article contains references to child sexual harassment, sexual violence, and marital rape. Reader discretion advised.  

A few days ago I was unfortunate enough to come across a video that grandly announced Vidyut Jammwal’s entry into a film titled Commando 3. There was a lot of anger surrounding this video, and it’s summed up in this article on Hindustan Times published on November 28, 2019.  Against my better judgment, I decided to look at the video, and this is the horror that ensued –a wrestler in an akhaada (traditional wrestling space) accosts a school-going girl and forcefully lifts her skirt up. For the sake of voyeurism, and as though she were a hapless puppet, her bare legs were left on-screen for consumption, till the point the hyper-masculine hero makes a classic entry and saves the girl.

A harrowing experience was reduced to the saviour complex of the protagonist. This scene was not called out for what it is–child sexual harassment and assault, and street harassment–all of which are punishable by law and violate fundamental human rights. Instead, it was an ego-massaging moment for Vidyut Jammwal and acted as a catalyst for his physics-defying action scenes.

Watch this video to see why we need a heads up in scenes of violence against women and girls.

A still from ‘Kabir Singh’

After the 300-crore-minting debacle that was Kabir Singh, in addition to Sandeep Reddy’s justification of domestic abuse and Shahid Kapoor’s refusal to take responsibility for the glorification of toxic masculinity, we, at Breakthrough, deliberated over how to intervene in this chaos. Soon after, we put together a petition in Hindi and English on, directed to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B). 

The petition demands that movies comprising scenes with violence against women and girls, including genres such as comedies and romance, that are notorious for glorifying stalking and harassment (here’s looking at you, Govinda and Shahid Kapoor!), have a very specific disclaimer specifying the act of violence and the law that penalises such actions. In addition, the movie should also have a brief public service announcement (PSA) featuring the actors firmly condemning actions that comprise violence against women and girls.

While marital rape has not been penalised by Indian law, it is still a very crucial part of the universal human rights framework. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) defines discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status.” Calling out marital rape for what it is has become crucial in light of films like Grand Masti and Pati, Patni or Woh where that nefarious Kartik Aaryan can be found spewing rape jokes, only to be met with uproarious laughter.

A still from Pati, Patni, Aur Woh. The film came under flak for a dialogue trivialising marital rape.

At this moment, convincing filmmakers and actors to rethink the content they put out and acknowledge their responsibility in light of the social and cultural capital that they occupy is a long road ahead. Till then, with the aid of public mobilisation campaigns, there can exist an intervention in a very vital part of our pop culture.

Harassment, abuse, and assault have been written into the film as the prerogative of the ‘hero’ and his performances of masculinity. When inflicted by the protagonist, the actions are glorified. Incidents of gendered violence get called out for what they are when inflicted by the antagonist – only for the protagonist to sweep in and save the damsel-in-distress. We collectively need the reminder that women’s bodies don’t exist at the disposal of male entitlement and hero-villain ego tussles.

Besides the legal aspect, the disclaimers also serve as a much-needed trigger warning for whom scenes of gendered violence become a source of trauma. Disclaimers and PSAs can also enable the identification of gendered violence, creating a dent in a sea of jeering audience members while He-Man the He-Ro prances across the frame harassing and assaulting women with absolute impunity.

This is where you and I, as very concerned cinema-goers, step in. By deciding that enough is enough and demanding an intervention in this culture of misogyny and impunity. Sign our petition (Hindi/English) and join the 1,00,000 plus strong community in demanding an intervention in pop-culture misogyny through the means of disclaimers and PSAs so that the Real-Reel Rowdy Rathore should have to think twice and thrice the next time he decides to massage his ego and entitlement.

You must be to comment.

More from Breakthrough India

Similar Posts

By Sandeep Chetia

By Manaswita Sachdeva

By Nupur J

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