What Mukesh Bhatt Means by ‘Simple’
The Harvey Weinstein scandal is echoing all around the world – but in Bollywood, there are no exposés or hullabaloos or screaming from any rooftops. Instead, there is Mukesh Bhatt, super-patriarch and moral officer for ‘shameless’ women everywhere.
“What can we do? We cannot do any moral policing. We cannot keep moral cops outside every film office to see that no girl is being exploited,” Bhatt, told Reuters in a telephone interview. (English teachers will soon use this sentence as a masterful example of the passive voice – “girls” are “being exploited,” not ‘sleazy men or producers are exploiting the women’ – and BPOs will rejoice at the outsourcing of personal responsibility to treat another human respectfully to “moral cops.”)
But have faith in yourself, Mr. Bhatt; you’re so good at the moral policing:
“I am not saying men have not been exploitative. They have been for centuries. But today’s woman is also not as simple as she pretends to be,” he continued. “But just as there are good men and bad men, so also there are women who are exploitative and very cunning. Also, blatantly shameless to offer themselves.”
Well, life is indeed as simple as a box of chocolates, isn’t it, Mr Bhatt? For you, at least. Especially when you cleverly re-enforce that age-old patriarchal, just-plain-wrong belief that women who are naïve, untutored in the ways of the world (till harassed into them, of course) – are better somehow. If they’re not, then they’re “exploitative” and “cunning.” Black or white, basically, and especially no fifty shades of grey.
Oh, for simpler days and simpler women, who simply endured indignity or traded sexual favours for work. When they just accepted the harassment without trying to get ahead on their own terms, or by manipulating an exploitative system to their advantage. How dare today’s women, those cunning, exploitative, non-simple cows!
And in the latest iteration of ‘The Bhautt of Bollywood,’ Mr Bhatt tried to downplay his original comments by mansplaining: “I said that sexual harassment is not gender specific and in some instances, men take advantage of it and in some instances, women take advantage of the same.”
Mr Bhatt, you’re simply not getting it: No one takes advantage of sexual harassment. Many women (and sure, men as well) — your colleagues — have endured it and gotten past it. They did not enjoy it, they did not choose it, they all tried to fight it subtly or overtly. Blaming them for a system that men created ‘over centuries’ and that other men like you have the power to first acknowledge, and then change, but won’t? Well, we’re just simple women… but that’s as incomprehensible as your movies.