Almost every Hollywood actor, who recently opened up about her or his experience of sexual harassment by filmmakers and other actors, has been questioned for speaking up years after they were molested.
While there’s no denying that the high-profile sexual harassment cases of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have brought exploitation in Hollywood to the forefront, it also led to a social media movement, #metoo, allowing women and men all over the world to come out and speak against their abusers.
Much closer to home, while Bollywood actors are seen lauding their Hollywood counterparts for naming and shaming the offenders, they are reluctant to follow suit. Actor Kangana Ranaut believes it is the scepticism of society that stops actors, especially women, to come out with their experiences in the open.
Of course, Kangana has never been the one to shy away from taking names of all those in the film industry, who exploited her. But the Simran actor said that it’s high time women weren’t asked as to why they didn’t speak up earlier.
In her long, comprehensive reply to why Bollywood actors are not naming their abusers, despite admitting that they have faced harassment, Kangana Ranaut said that the onus on the behaviour of a sexual offender is more often than not on the woman, which needs to be done away with.
“To tell our women, ‘Next time, make sure not to wear that dress, and you don’t go to that hotel room at this point of time and also don’t be too ambitious,’ all these things are not healthy. What we are telling our children is that they are responsible for a sexual offender’s behaviour. How can I be responsible? I am going to my work. Even if I am going out with my colleague or I am having wine with a friend or a partner, how can my clothing, my demeanour convert someone into a sexual offender? It’s not in my hands.”
The actor said that the power play acts as a suppressant for a lot of women, who want to speak up against their offenders immediately after they suffered harassment, but if they want to open up years later, they should be given a space.
“I got harassed and I know a lot of people who got harassed. Sometimes you don’t have that liberty to put your career at stake. I do agree that you want to take that promotion but now you want to save the girls who will follow you. If I want to talk about it after six years, you as a society should encourage me. Why would you say, ‘Why now? Are you out of job? You didn’t scream at that time. Where’s the photo? Where’s the video?’ I should be allowed to talk about it (sexual harassment) even from my death bed,” said Kangana.
The actor even condemned her contemporaries, who have gone on record saying that they could avoid sexual exploitation because they weren’t “poor or ambitious enough.” “Sexual harassment is the most misunderstood term in our country. I have seen a lot of actresses and influential people talking about sexual harassment but completely misunderstanding that for consensual sex. Why do you say ‘I was not a very ambitious girl so, I avoided sexual harassment?’ What are you implying? ‘I don’t come from a poor family. So, I could avoid sexual harassment.’ I don’t get the connection. What is the connection?” questioned Kangana.
The actor made these remarks on Wednesday evening at the launch of Shobha De’s new book, “70 and to hell with it”. Kangana was in conversation with the author and journalist Barkha Dutt.
When Barkha asked her about the hostile environment that a woman finds herself in as soon as she opens up about her ordeal, Kangana, without taking his name, mentioned her long-standing tiff with actor Hrithik Roshan. The actor alleged because she refused to go to news anchor Arnab Goswami’s show, the journalist conducted a rather cushioned interview with Hrithik, where the actor broke his silence on Kangana’s accusation.
“In the case of exploitation by a person I worked with (referring to Hrithik), he is sitting across Arnab Goswami and talking rubbish, which my lawyer has again released a video refuting everything he said. This person (Arnab Goswami), who is asking everyone to apologise, did not ask him a single question. Why is that? I was called for that show and I refused to go. So in order to get back at me, this sort of politics and selective journalism happened. All of this happened in a very hostile environment. This struggle goes on and it is going to go on,” Kangana said.
At the event, citing the example of her own conduct in the industry, the National Award-winning actor also said that women should become so unpredictable that men remain wary of messing with them.
“Unanimously, what we should do is expose sexual harassers and offenders because that is their only punishment. Honestly, no one messes up with me anymore. I have become this person, who would say anything anytime. This is the greatest thing that has happened to me. Women should be like that. You should catch them (men) off guard that they think, ‘Oh my God! She says anything. Let’s stay away from her’,” said the Simran actor.