Home » Life & Society » Go home Priyanka Chopra. And then read up on rape culture.

Go home Priyanka Chopra. And then read up on rape culture.

Sneha Vakharia | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST

Every wondered where the descriptor phadu comes from?

You know. Gaane ka bassline phadu hai. Anurag Kashyap ki filmein phadu hain. In Bengali, you're more likely to hear the phrase Phatiye Diyechi. It is analogous to saying, in English, 'killed it'.

It's a phrase that means awesome. Brilliant.

Literally, it translates to ripped.

Here's what we seldom realise: phod dena, phadu, phatiye diyechi, are all phrases with rape connotations. More specifically, ripping the hymen.

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That's right, ripping the hymen is a phrase that you, me and everyone we know colloquially uses to mean awesome.

Because that's how deep rooted rape culture is. And that's how closely we have to look at ourselves to detect influences of rape culture. Then pick them out like vermin, and stamp on them real hard.

Salman Khan, muscle man and virgin

A week ago, while describing his intense workouts, Salman Khan said this:

"It is like the most difficult thing... When I used to walk out of that ring (post work-out) it used to be actually like a raped woman walking out."

Right. So Salman Khan was suffering a pain between his thighs from exercising intensely, and he imagines that that's what being raped feels like.

I'd argue that that's what menstruation feels like, but whatever. Rape, sans the emotional trauma, the threat to life, the nightmares, PTSD, and the implausibility of getting justice, is an intense workout between the legs in Salman Khan's world.

Of course, nobody has ever credited Salman Khan with being a nuanced orator. Or with being sensitive to womankind.

Nevertheless, his rape statement merited much outrage. Because with every think-piece written about it, we were not only pointing a finger at Salman Khan, but also at ourselves.

We were articulating what rape culture sounds like. We were weeding out instances where we, sometimes, unknowingly, casually speak of rape. We were shining a spotlight on what the semantics of rape culture entails. And that we subconsciously and unconsciously trivialise rape. That we speak of it less like a heinous crime and more like an experience a woman must try to avoid to the best of her ability.

Weeding out rape culture demands that we be unforgiving of ourselves and everyone around us. And by outraging over Salman Khan's statement, were being unforgiving.

Priyanka Chopra, now willful accessory to rape culture

At the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards on June 28th, Priyanka Chopra threw her hat into the ring. Here's what she said:

"It is very important for the media and for we as women to use our power and talk about the real problem which is happening in India every single day to so many women instead of pushing a controversy for a headline, which is unfair.

There is so much reality happening like a brutal rape case in Bihar took place - why is no one talking about the issue? A lot has been said about the Salman issue, I don't want to add to the noise. I would rather bring notice on real issues. The real problem is us talking about how to treat out women better in India and how to treat women better generally."

This was immensely disheartening. Because this statement amply demonstrates that Chopra does not understand rape culture at all.

She does not understand that rape culture is a continuum. That on one end of that continuum - the seemingly innocuous end - we sexualise little girls, moments before slut-shaming them.

And on the other, more villainous, more criminal end, we rape and abuse women to terrorise and oppress, like the brutal rape case in Bihar.

On the innocuous end, we make rape jokes and enjoy music that celebrates male sexual aggression. And on the villainous, criminal end, we accept that one in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.

Chopra thinks they're unrelated. And so she's defending one and reviling the other.

She does not understand the unconscious power of semantics. She cannot grasp that casually speaking of rape, repeatedly over time and geography, normalises it. It makes it less outrageous. It desensitises us to it. And makes us more tolerant of it.

In other words, Chopra does not understand that in talking about Salman Khan, we are already talking about the brutal rape in Bihar.

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First published: 28 June 2016, 6:29 IST
Sneha Vakharia @sneha_vakharia

A Beyonce-loving feminist who writes about literature and lifestyle at Catch, Sneha is a fan of limericks, sonnets, pantoums and anything that rhymes. She loves economics and music, and has found a happy profession in neither. When not being consumed by the great novels of drama and tragedy, she pays the world back with poems of nostalgia, journals of heartbreak and critiques of the comfortable.