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Why Pandya’s Misogyny Needs to Be Taken Seriously 

People have contested the backlash Pandya is receiving. Here’s why his actions were unacceptable. 

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Opinion
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At this time, the Hardik Pandya controversy is less news, more everyday colloquial conversation. Most of the country is aware of how the famous cricketer made extremely misogynistic and controversial comments on Karan Johar’s talk show which was followed by a notice from BCCI and has now led to a suspension. Hriday Ranjan wrote and published a piece in The Print that spoke about how the current treatment of Pandya is unnecessary. He advocated the idea that cricketer Hardik Pandya should not have to deal with any consequences based on his comments on Karan Johar’s talk show. Ranjan’s criticism is not just problematic and offensive to some but also fairly simplistic in its premise, and we all need to understand why.

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“And what gives these journalists the right to judge these people?”
Hriday Ranjan, The Print

Hriday Ranjan believes journalists do not have the right to moralise this incident and judge Pandya because they are not ‘perfect’ themselves. It is understandable that one person who is critiquing another might not necessarily be better than the person they are critiquing. It is also important that a person willing to criticise another is speaking from knowledge, personal experience, etc. The thought that people should only have an opinion on or evaluate one another when they are themselves perfect, is slightly absurd. There would not be much conversation about anything if only the “perfect” were allowed to talk.

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“Hardik likes women and brags about his exploits – so what?”
Hriday Ranjan, The Print 

As we move towards a more sexually liberated society, it is important to think about sexual culture as a whole. When someone “brags about their exploits” they are feeding into the idea that sex is conquest. When one regards sex as conquest, they objectify the person involved in the sexual act because it becomes all about the person whose ‘exploit’ this is.

Some would argue that as long everyone, irrespective of gender, has the capability to objectify with the same power then it is acceptable. But, objectification does not just raise social but also ethical questions for us to tackle. Why is that? When a person is objectified, they are reduced to the status of being a tool for someone else’s purposes. The objectified loses their individuality and are transformed into a utility. Is that the society we are headed towards? One where no individual is regarded as that but a mere tool? Thus, condoning the act of people bragging about their sexual encounters is a dangerous project.

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“If Hardik Pandya was a woman, she would be hailed as a sexual revolutionary” - A legitimate concern?
Hriday Ranjan, The Print 

I agree that a woman would not receive similar backlash but that is a result of gendered power dynamics rather than some special privilege that women receive in our society which must be shamed. Objectification is not an act that would be considered “right” regardless of the gender of the person performing it. The words of a woman when she speaks about sex with a man do not quite hold the same power as the man’s which is why, more often than not women are objectified. This has been normalised creating a culture of women being disrespected, undermined and uncomfortable. Therefore, a woman would be hailed as a “revolutionary” since she is doing the unusual, breaking out of the conventional dynamic and acquiring sexual agency. It is naive, or maybe even idealistic to think the two would be or should be treated the same.

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“How long are we going to throw this dumb, carcass of a logic that people are affected by TV, films and books?”
Hriday Ranjan, The Print 

In his piece, Ranjan rejects the idea that the media influences people and suggests that Pandya’s comments do not really matter. Caitlin Moran, a renowned English author and journalist for The Times had said, “Pop is the cultural bellwether of social change.” Media affects and changes perspective.

Does Ranjan think we are #bornthisway? Or we #wokeuplikethis? No. Conditioning means something. A great part of conditioning comes from exposure to certain media and culture and the same shapes most of our views, ideas and responses. TV ads are based on the premise that if audiences see others do something or use something, they will believe in the product or the idea more. Advertisement campaigns spend tons of money to enlist celebrities to endorse products since the previously mentioned impact is larger when endorsements come from known faces. Similarly, if the country constantly witnesses misogyny and entitlement (especially by well-known people; since they have credibility) it would become very normalised, thereby affecting how women are perceived or interacted with in society.

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“Every person in this country needs to be a role model. I don’t get it.”
Hriday Ranjan, The Print 

Cricket is a major sport in India and equated to religion. For a very long time now, the sport has had a certain level of celebrity culture attached to it. People are not unaware of that. Which is why when Ranjan says that Pandya is simply paid to do his job – play cricket, it is false. Playing cricket for the country is not where his responsibility ends. As much as celebrities would like it, it is not like they are not role models. They are a mark for where the middle class wants to be – Bollywood, Sports, Music whatever it may be. There is no denying that these people leave a mark. They do not necessarily swoop in and change someone’s life with their words but they do put the tag of “cool” on activities and ideas they embrace on public platforms. At this platform, Pandya embraced misogyny and attempted to pass it off as “cool”.

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“They want everybody to fall in line, irrespective of their upbringing or roots.”
Hriday Ranjan, The Print

I believe Ranjan’s criticism of the western culture around political correctness is understandable and fairly true. A person of privilege has an epiphany and then decides it is important that everyone agrees with and respects this epiphany without thinking much about the background or upbringing people have had. Context is key. In the framework of this situation, Ranjan’s criticism is not quite valid. Many articles, similar to Ranjan’s emphasise on Pandya’s apparent backward background to point at how the outrage against him is not justified. Within the context of this incident, Pandya might be someone who only studied up till the 9th grade and came from a place that lacked exposure but he, after becoming a cricketer, rose to fame and wealth. This gave him great access as well as exposure to western thought (one that is supposedly shoved down his throat due to the culture of political correctness). Thus, he does not get a free pass because of his background. If Pandya could use exposure and wealth to expose himself to and participate in hip-hop culture, clubbing etc which are not lifestyle choices an uneducated person gets to make then he could probably also acquaint himself to the idea of respect for his interactions with women as well as his colleagues.

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The Educated Man’s Misogyny

Ranjan’s piece seems to take a stance that does not directly condone women being disrespected. It picks different arguments that come together to provide a framework where men do not have much accountability as they perform misogynist acts. It appears that Ranjan, through his piece, is synthesising the ideology of the “educated man”. They who will not beat their wives but possibly use their educated status and credibility to propagate ideas that do not support women being truly empowered and occupying spaces similar to men. Are these men really progressive? Or do they make a simple claim? The educated man’s misogyny is of a more dangerous kind because of its insidiousness. It comes wrapped in layers of feminist alliances and inclination towards equality. As we move towards a brighter future in terms of a just society, it is important for us all to be wary of power that is concealed more than power that is explicit.

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Topics:  Opinion   Koffee With Karan   Misogyny 

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