Rampant crimes against women, relentless fight for representation, amplifying the need for pay parity, demanding equal job opportunities – women in India are outraging about more things than they have physical or mental bandwidth for.
Singh was booked by the Mumbai Police under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 292 (sale, etc, of obscene books), 293 (sale, etc, of obscene objects to young person) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) as well as Section 67A of the Information Technology (IT) Act.
But neither his style choices nor his nude shoot contribute to a woman’s modesty in any manner.
'Unbridled Misogyny at Core'
Time and again, the 83 actor has been lambasted for his gender-fluid fashion sense, his openness about sex, and his general flamboyance. But, this line of criticism comes from a skewed lens that views masculinity as austere and somber.
Moreover, if we’re to dissect the belief that a woman’s honour can be ruptured by a man simply choosing to be naked in front of the camera, we’ll find unbridled misogyny at its core.
It points to the perception that a woman's modesty is 'so fragile' that an actor’s nude photographs can violate it.
It trivialises hefty issues like harassment, dowry deaths, hindrances to employment, reproductive and bodily autonomy – issues that actually pose a threat to women's safety and autonomy in India.
Before anything, let me take you through some facts.
Crimes Against Women
India sees 88 rape cases every day (Source: NCRB 2021)
4 percent of ever-pregnant women have experienced spousal violence during a pregnancy (Source: NFHS-5)
One in every 25 women in India reported being subjected to sexual violence by her husband often or sometimes (Source: NFHS-5)
About nine in 10 Indians agree with the notion that a wife must always obey her husband (Source: Pew Research Center Survey)
Fight For Equal Opportunities
India at 135 out of 146 countries in Global Gender Gap Index (Source: World Economic Forum)
Men earn 82 percent of the labor income whereas women earn just 18 percent of it (Source: World Inequality Report 2022)
Only 17.4 percent of these employed women hold regular salaried jobs (Source: Labour Force Survey 2022)
India's female workforce participation is among the lowest in the world (Source: United Nations)
More women lost jobs in the pandemic in India, compared to men (Source: UN Data)
65 percent of Indian women are literate in contrast to 82 percent of men (Source: Census 2011)
This dismissal statistics on physical and sexual violence against women also reveals a hypocrisy: one that admonishes men for violating women's rights, by simply posing naked – while enabling actual assaulters by victim blaming when it comes to grave brutalities.
Ultimately, it also forces men to fall prey to these baseless patriarchal standards, as well, thus limiting any desire or action that does not align with insular norms. But that's a battle for another day.
Now, let’s be clear: The charges and claims levied against Singh seem to stem from archaic notions of masculinity.