What makes a senior political leader use the example of a woman from the entertainment industry to hit out at a political opponent? Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh is known to shoot his mouth off. However, his statement, "Arvind Kejriwal is like Rakhi Sawant. They both try and expose but with no substance" is senseless, besides being in poor taste.
The latest news is that he says she is welcome to slap a defamation case against him where she is seeking Rs. 50 crore in damages. This is just so arrogant.
It is not surprising that much of mainstream media will not take up for Rakhi. She is not in the top league, and started her career as an item girl performing to titillating dance numbers, which is what heroines do today. She has been called drama queen, attention seeker and several other names, even as she was used by these same media channels to spice up their programmes.
It is to her credit that while she superficially reinvented herself – better clothes, better shows – she essentially remained grounded and, in some ways, coarse. I liked her before she got legitimised by Karan Johar on his talk show ‘Koffee with Karan’, and everyone suddenly started taking up for her being oh-so-frank when she made the famous comment, “Jo Bhagwan nahin deta woh doctor de sakta hai” (what god does not give the doctor can) regarding her several cosmetic surgeries.
Most times, she is cannily self-deprecatory. Like getting excited about designer clothes. She knows that she can afford them now, but she is also aware that whatever she wears will be seen as ‘cheap’. The same slit gowns, the same clutches, the same limited edition baubles that a top star might wear, and promote after being paid for by the sponsor, will be seen as favours done to her.
This is the sad state of our perceptions, of how we view people, especially women.
What Digvijay Singh has done is in the same league. However, like the others, he felt the need to use her name, a name that has become a symbol. There are many who expose, but he could think only of her. Or, he was too afraid to name Vidya Balan or Kareena Kapoor. The analogy was about Arvind Kejriwal exposing people’s names without any merit or substance to his accusations.
How does Rakhi Sawant exposing herself come into the picture? She is revealing her own assets, not anybody else’s. Besides, on what basis does he say she has no substance? This is her substance. This is what has made her, at least partially, what she is. This is her bread and butter. This is what people pay to see. This is how the respectable media exploits her.
She has written letters to the Mumbai Police Commissioner and the Maharashtra Home Secretary against Digvijay Singh. CNN-IBN published her letter, but not before stating:
“Here's the full text of the letter written by Rakhi Sawant, which has been reproduced in its entirety with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors”
So what? It goes without saying she has not drafted it. This works for the English-educated, Oxford-flashing mob to bring down the ‘vernies’.
Even if Rakhi Sawant is a drama queen, she is way better than these microphone queens who think they can change the world. Oh, not just that. They think they are in charge of the world.
Rakhi's letter raises a few important points:
“…outraging modesty of a woman/female, charges of passing lewd remarks and eve teasing, abusing, mischief, passing defamatory remake and false statement and rumour etc…”
Some may think the reaction is exaggerated. It is time to at least address these issues.
- Outraging of modesty can be verbal.
- What he said is lewd.
- I don’t like the term eve teasing, but such comments do amount to harassment of a woman.
- It is abusive.
- It is mischievous, for it immediately grabs attention
- It is defamatory.
- It is false because Digvijay Singh does not know her, and there is no reason to drag her name in.
I do understand that she has not been advised too well, though, for there is no relation established between her and Kejriwal nor is it about her gender.
It is also possible that she will renege on her own position and retract the case. But, then, so do politicians. Mr. Singh said he was "an old fan".
The same hierarchy prevails here, too. The lumpen politician passing sexist remarks is immediately pulled up, but a posh Raja Digvijay Singh will get a bemused reaction. He has chosen a target who even feminists would not feel comfortable standing up for.
The whole “objectification of body” argument will be raked up. She has paid to get that body with her money. And she did not ask a politician to objectify her with his comments.
(c) Farzana Versey
(c) Farzana Versey