It's no news that Rocky Handsome is the ultimate manifestation of masculinity porn. There are guns, intense looks, beefed up bodies, little girls that need to be saved and of course, a completely humourless John Abraham.
While bad cinema shouldn't be easily forgiven, Rocky Handsome's crimes seem rather harmless when compared to its star's casual comment on a sensitive subject in an interview with Malishka on Hotstar's M Bole Toh.
While talking about how much he's objectified, what with a traffic cop asking him how he toned his legs, John also recalled an incident where fans attacked him.
His exact words were:
"Once we were in Holland and five or six excited girls surrounded me and put their hands in my T-shirt. The bodyguards came but said they would not intervene, or else the girls would scratch me. So those girls did whatever they wanted to do and it was really sweet. Thereafter they took out their hands and I felt something burning. So I checked and found blood. I asked a girl why she did that, she said she wanted my skin in her nails."
Let's repeat that. Slowly.
"The bodyguards came but said they would not intervene, or else the girls would scratch me." -- a clear threat.
"I felt something burning. So I checked and found blood." -- proof of molestation/physical assault.
"She said she wanted my skin in her nails." -- rape mentality.
"So those girls did whatever they wanted..." -- complete violation.
"...and it was really sweet." -- WHAT?
Now, one can easily put a woman in his place and recount the whole experience, and the story changes completely, doesn't it? She would be berated for not standing up for her rights, and perhaps, some sympathy would flow in for her, the naive survivor of this ghastly assault.
But when it comes to a beefy man like John, the standards differ. No matter how uncomfortable he might have been while being scratched by a stranger, he must appreciate the 'love' he's getting. He must not be concerned about his personal space or be angry about being attacked. Because one, a woman couldn't seriously attack a man as masculine as John. And two, because real men do not face sexual assault.
Instead, his reaction to the incident is possibly being perceived as 'good humoured'. Because good guy John entertained some fans.
But the blame isn't solely his. He probably doesn't even realise how damaging his reaction to the incident is for scores of men who have been sexually assaulted. Traditional gender roles also establish who must perpetrate and who must suffer.
Be it domestic abuse, casual sexism or sexual assault, when it's against a man, it is seen as less significant. But when a celebrity reinforces this on television, with no one batting an eyelid, we definitely have a problem.
-- Edited by Abha Srivastava