Screenwriter Kanika Dhillion Speaks About The Rampant Sexism In Bollywood, Rape Culture And How She Almost Quit.
For some reason, almost every woman who has been working in Bollywood for a few years has the exact same complaints about it. They were either harassed, propositioned, never taken seriously, slut-shamed, cat-called, mansplained, patronized and in worse-case scenarios sexually assaulted by the men who basically control the industry.
Do you know what the most outrageous part of this whole thing is though? Let’s say a woman did comply with these demands, her image would be tainted in the industry. She would become the woman who slept her way through jobs which obviously led to no further jobs for her. And if she didn’t comply, she is deemed a prude and no man wants to work with her so again, so she is left unemployed. To be a woman in this industry is like being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea at all times.
The fact of the matter is, these are the claims of most of the women in the industry. Every single one of them knows what it’s like to walk on eggshells all the time and it’s is really shameful. The reason I am talking about this today is that screenwriter Kanika Dhillon has also come out and said she too was propositioned and made to feel unworthy to such a point that she wanted to quit the industry altogether.
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Kanika is the screenwriter for movies like Manmarziyaan, Judgemental Hai Kya, Heroine and more recently Netflix’s Guilty. In a recent interview, she was asked about pay parity and she replied saying, “Forget the paycheck, there were times when I started out that I wanted to leave this industry and go. I was harassed; I was propositioned; I was made to feel that the only way I’m good enough is to have a happy face around; I was made to feel that I’m being kept around because I was easy on the eyes.”
She made some extremely strong points in this interview, but what resonated with me the most is when she talked about how men refuse to acknowledge the fact that a woman succeeded based purely on her merit.
She said, “Across the world and especially in India, men refuse to acknowledge that a woman is doing well in her life because of her talent. Somehow the first thing that they’ll say is, ‘Oh, has she slept her way up?’ I feel that the men who gossip like this, they actually do it in real life. They think that sleeping their way up is a great way to do it, hence you are projecting it on other people’s success and validating the other person’s position.” She further added, “So next time when you hear a man of this industry, cracking a joke that ‘I think this woman is sleeping her way up,’ immediately know that this man is a predator. And, this judgment is something that women face across the world. Men judge them more because they get very insecure and scared.”
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No matter what profession you are from, every woman at some point or another has felt this burning judgement. It is like the world finds it easier to attribute a woman’s success to an external force because it is just so difficult to accept that a woman can succeed based solely on her talents. Yes, this is very sexist but when it comes to things like this it wouldn’t be fair to just blame the men because women too sometimes are responsible for bringing other women down. And that is worse than a man being a chauvinistic pig.
Actually, if you think about it, there are a lot of things that you can’t just blame the men for. Have you heard the saying, “women are their own worst enemies”? This can be blamed on the generations of classical conditioning that women go through, but you can’t refute the fact that it is true. Kanika too believes that men and women are both responsible for the rampant “rape culture” in our country.
In an interview earlier this week, she said, “The rape culture is prevalent in our country because, after committing the heinous crime, the criminal feels protected, and women teach other women to practice the culture of silence. So, men and women are collectively responsible for every rape that happens everywhere — women who protect a man who has committed the crime and shame the victim, and men who think rape is the way to control women who break the norms of patriarchy.”
Kanika really has made some valid points here and I completely agree with her. I am so glad that women with such strong voices have decided to speak up against all the ill-practices that have plagued our industry for a long time now.
This is how real change begins!