Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rape. A formula worth it?

I watched this brilliant movie today called Yudham Sei, directed by Mysskin, staring Cheran in the leading role. As much as I am tempted to write a review on it, showering all praises and acclaim, I realize that it is another strong thought that is gripping my mind and makes me want to write.

 Yudham Sei in brief: A group of perverted rich men kidnap and rape girls.  The family of one such victim, who were otherwise leading a normal happy middle class life, decide to avenge these people and start executing gory murders on them.

Well, there you have it - all the frills of an intense crime thriller. Yes, I am a huge fan of crime thrillers packed with suspense and that probably explains why I instantly fell in love with one that was brilliantly executed. However I realize that most of them these days have one common thread running along them - rape.

Take Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyadu - Psychopaths committing serial rapes and murders. 
         Naan Mahaan Alla - Perverted young men raping girls as a hobby
         Easan - Rich boys raping girls for fun
         Yudham Sei - Old crooks raping girls for pleasure and hobby

   I might be missing many names. If I am not wrong, I am guessing from its trailer that Gautham Menon's next, Nadunisi Naaigal also runs along this theme. 

Now, I am not implying that rape is taboo and it is a sin to be talking about it. I am not implying that rape is non-existent in the society and it is unrealistic to be talking about it. What is to be pondered here is what are such portrayals doing to the masses' minds?

For one thing, I feel it stresses and establishes at the forefront of the mind the gender advantage - the power privilege that men have over women. Every rape depicted on screen is a reiteration of the fact that a woman can be subdued by a man physically. Forget whether it is ethically right or wrong... by the end of the movie, what the mind carries home is probably not the fact that the villain was punished but the graphic details of how the rape took place. It definitely lingers for a long time.

What happens when you are watching a rape on screen? In certain ways, it is subtle pornography thrust on you. True, they dont show the whole thing but if long timers, who have seen both, are to be believed short symbolic glimpses have good, if not more effect. So, what happens during those few minutes? Embarrassment could be a safe cover word. Yet, deep within, for women, the cringing might be due to the suggested weakness sealed and affirmed on screen. For, rape is perhaps one of the biggest subjugation acts of men over women. End of it, the scene establishes the woman's body as a medium through which her entire self can be conquered and that her body is a desirable thing that gives pleasure on being attained. 

Is it worth reinforcing these over and over again through a visual medium like movies? As such, having women as mere dance-around-the-trees utility, item-number glamour providing utility in films have done enough to assert a skewed sex equality.  On top of this, I believe emphasizing rape as a focus of the plot is not helping. For, I repeat, those scenes do not cater to our moral spirit but instead to our animal instincts, and what we take back home is not the message but the picture. 
Out of the theater, not that every man would have transformed into a rapist himself. Yet, how is he going to look at a woman? My gender probably translates to him subconsciously as "a vulnerable weak species whose body is always made a big deal about...desired by many...and who could be subjugated in certain ways". And probably this thought, in turn, creates many commonplace avatars and habits.

- of 'checking out' the body and face primarily on meeting a woman
- Egoism that believes "Afterall she is just a lady, how dare she talks this way" (Ponnu unakke ivvalavu na, payyan enaku evvalavu irukkum)
- Extreme protection that borders on domination - "Dont go there!" "Dont do this. It is not safe for you girls"
- the attitudes that believe that it is OKAY to whistle, hoot or pass snide loud remarks when a girl walks by
- the cynicism on seeing her ride a bike 

Come on, these are not as horrible as rape, you say. 

Alas, you forget that you are emotionally raping the woman everyday. 


Anonymous said...

Lol, great sunday morning read.!

A scene from the 80's, a trend long imbibed into the tamil culture

Its not that I completely feel the same, but words of wisdom.

the root for cause, boils down down to the constrained culture, its not logical to blame the man.

amudhan said...

There are three things which would disgust me to the most in any film or a story.

1) The topic of your blog
2) Chasing pregnant woman and hitting them
3) Kidnapping and killing (or worse... making them prostitutes) children for money.
Even to read this post was an ordeal for me and too much to take.


People telling "Dont go there!" "Dont do this. It is not safe for you girls" could be a genuine honest concern for the safety for them. (Hypothetically) if my sister/cousin wants to go to a Rajini movie on the first day with only her friends, I would definitely be concerned and tell "don't go.. don't do.. it is risky". Not that I think she shouldn't, but things which we can't do anything about it should be prevented. What I am telling is, people who say 'don't do... don't go' are not the assholes, but the society has a lot of such 'bad people' and the people who tells these things can be forgiven :)

Also I wouldn't want a girl/woman to ride a bike. There are equally powerful scooter especially designed for girls. Not that I feel 'they are challenging men' bla bla kind of feeling, but it is really risky for them to ride bikes especially bigger ones.
No matter how safely we ride, we fall at least once in an year (or at least I fall). The amount of damage for the rider will be higher in a bike than a scooter.
My father usually tells 'bike riding' is like a circus (risky). If a girl/woman wants to ride a bike for its pleasure it is perfectly okay... but if they simply ride to piss off some men and willing to put themselves to ridicules/insults/risks just to show 'I am not weak... Look at me... I can ride a bike' it is more like proving the otherwise. I had seen a girl riding a bike in Chennai and a lorry guy kept honking to terrify her. I was more angry on the girl than the driver. Why to take such a risk? Is it worth the risk? I am not telling girls shouldn't ride bikes. It is risky for them and it is not worth the risk. IMHestO.

[I will have no problem in girls/women driving Innova or Accord. :)]

I want to quote a dialogue from Pride and Prejudice:
Lady Catherine : "Though I know it is absolutely impossible, I just wanted to come here and hear you contradicting such thing exists"
Elizabeth: "You coming here will be a confirmation rather than contradicting if such things exist"

Girls don't have to do anything to prove that they are NOT weak or they are equal to men. Men who respect them will respect them no matter what. Men who will ridicule/insult them will only do more if girls try to prove them wrong.

[I am extremely extremely sorry for such a big junk horrible comment.]

Abhishek said...

" Alas , you forget you're r*ping a woman everyday "

- dat mite be an over-statement , cuz what happens " everyday " as u call it , can be recovered from . The real thing is just ........ something else

The Visitor said...

Reached here through a mention of this post by Amudhan.

A post by GB echoing thoughts similar to those expressed in your post : Sleeping with the Enemy

tr rrr said...

Sindhu... All d films u mentioned r products a commercial film industry which is controlled by strong patriarchyal forces. Pls note d words 'commercial', 'industry' nd 'patriarchyal'... No doubt myskin nd goutham r gud technicians. Bt as long as film industry's basic nature is patriarchyal, v can expect women characters showcased as a commodity, glorified virginity concept, glorified mother concept etc etc... Y dont u gals can answer through some parallel cinema movement?

Sindu said...

@Abhishek: It is like asking which is worse: Capital punishment or death sentence

@tr rrr: Excellent comment! Quite a lot of fodder for thought. Yet, let us take the two words, 'commercial' and 'patriarchal' further.

Commercial - Sex sells, I agree. Yet, I feel, as an audience, we have definitely evolved further to appreciate new forays that dont ride along conventional formulas. Sex sells, when coupled with a good plot. However, a good plot can survive by itself too w/o the sex element.All it perhaps needs is a bit of brain activity from the directors.

For that matter, I don't even have a prblm with other sexual tones. 'Art' -they call it. It is assault in particular that I feel should be played more subtle on screen. Coz that is 'art' too far stretched.

Patriarchal - This perhaps has deeper, more complicated roots that cant be changed by just saying 'change!'. Perhaps, it is a cycle. The producers fear becoming too radical and revolutionary, thinking the audience still endorse patriarchy. In turn, the audience endorse it more only after watching such movies.

Sindu said...

@Siddarth: It is the constrained culture.Don't blame the man - you say. I don't understand.
All I say is, don't exhibit rape so descriptively, coz it has a snowball effect on various other things.

Does our culture provide instructions that disturbing gender assault scenes should be watched twice a week?

Sindu said...

I understand and appreciate your ('your' as in, people who place restrictions on women) concern. I realize that this concern arises from fear for our safety from the 'bad' elements of the society. Yet, there are 2 things.

One,fear is a variable emotion. Not everyone has the same quantity of fear for the same situation. Go back to your school days and take a simple assignment submission. There will be one who gets freaked out 3 days b4 the due date and one who coolly roams arnd a week after the deadline. People are different.You might be scared to let your sister go for the first day show. Murugan might be scared to let his sister go to the theater at all. Ravi might be scared to let his sister go out of the house at all. You might laugh at them and say they are conservative. Someone else might laugh at you. So, who is right? Is it fair on the girls?

Second, neither you nor Murugan nor Ravi or anyone can accurately tell the rate of safety of the society. Do we have a standard list of what places are safe and how many 'bad' elements are present? Where do you get the impressions from? The Media. Yet, the media is the last institution you should trust. What is the point of safeguarding your sister from the romeos in the theater when your own cousin could harass her? (Real incident)

Rather, what is needed is rationally assess all your fears. What is the worst that can happen? If the worst is really bad, yes, avoid. Else, empower. Your sister going alone for a night show could result in probably abduction. Yes, avoid it. But your sister going to rajini first show could result in what? Someone groping her? Empower her to deal with it. Or the least, tell her what could happen and if she is ready for it.

As for your bike ex, fine, let them fall! I will never ride a bike in my life. Yes, I am scared. Yet, if someone is not, let them face the consequences. Let the girl get bruised. Let her die. She chose her action. We are not angels from heaven who deserve life on a silver platter.

Finally, yes, it is stupid trying to prove that we are equal. In many ways, men and women cannot be equals. However, it is not stupid to resist the inequality when it infringes on personal dignity and freedom.

The Visitor said...

@Sindhu: Amudhan has touched upon the most common apprehension that our current society has regarding safety of women.

Here is a post that talks about how such views 'control' women at a sub-conscious level.
Where angels fear to tread.

I might seem like spamming, if you find it so do tell me. :)

vishesh said...

How many are humans anyway? One thing I am surprised by is the fact no one talks about 1984 and what Winston and Julia feel.

It probably is instinctive for men to protect women from other men? But that doesn't mean you should restrict what she/they want to do.

Not like it is safe for a guy to go everywhere and anywhere.

Our movies tend to be really annoying, why they can't they have strong women characters? There have been a few, but not many. Problem is movies tend to reflect a general view of the society. But at least over here it is changing and we need a couple of movies, which would inspire the change to happen faster.

As for riding bikes...well I don't like guys driving bikes(like how they do) either.

Ohh...and when I went to Kerala, I was surprised to find that there were no women on the roads after 7. Apparently it is unsafe. Aren't they supposed to be a matriarchal society?

As for me personally I hate it whenever there is 'rape' scene. I cannot how one can degrade another human being. And it is even more uncomfie when it is a guy who is being raped(Kite runner, Pulp fiction etc).

GB said...

I'm glad somebody else also agrees with my views on films like Nadunisi Naaikal. It's so blatantly voyeuristic and it's such a shame that film-makers like this believe they are doing women a service by making movies like this. I'd like to see one movie with intelligence like The Accused come out from the Tamil film industry.

If you haven't watched The Accused, please do. It's based on a true life landmark case that changed laws on rape. It's a very painful movie to watch...but Jodie Foster is awesome in it.

GB said...

@Vishesh- Kerala is not a matriarchal society. Certain communities in Kerala used to be matrilineal (which is not the same thing as matriarchal) and even that is fast changing. For instance, I belong to a community that is matrilineal, but I carry my father's name, not my mother's house name as was the tradition. So do all my cousins.

Alcoholism is very high in Kerala- one big reason you don't find women on the streets at night. It is also not a very cosmopolitan society (the cosmo Mallus are all outside Kerala!).

Ragesh Dipu said...

Sindu... Am a short filmmaker nd ur batch mate prasanth vijayan was in our team. From my short experience i feel there is nothing innocent in showing woman in screen. As u say, sex sells when there is a good plot. Nd do u think this good plot comes innocently? I dont think both our mainstream nd arthouse directors nd writers r that innocent. Everyone is under d scanner of market. U, me, everyone. Unfortunately cinema is a medium which has an uncut chord with market from its birth. In my opinion v hav 2 fight 4 some parallel movement. Low budget, rebel films which discuss all d topics sidelined by market driven art nd commercial cinema. In other words v hav 2 break d art-commercial cinema divide. I dont know how? Bt i can hear what they cal this cinema, 'underground cinema movement'. :) nd v need some rebel 'women with camera'...

Ragesh Dipu said...

My 2nd post was a continuation of 1st one. In d name trr...rrr... This is my alternate log in id... Permanent 1...

amudhan said...

I think you are so furious and angry on me about my comment that you even didn't want to add '@Amudhan' :)

I don't want to discuss more about the comment/comment's comments. But when I said sister/cousin in my comment, I didn't mean sending my sister with my cousin (male). I meant either my sister or my cousin (female) with her friends.

Sindu said...

@Vishesh: Thanks for the comment Vishesh. I had to google though, to know who Winston and Julia were! :)

"It probably is instinctive for men to protect women from other men? But that doesn't mean you should restrict what she/they want to do. " *Like*

@GB: Thanks for the comment. 'The Accused' is right there at the top of my list of movies to watch.

ThunderEmperor said...

I don't understand one thing. Why didn't any of you assholes walk out of the movie theater? But you cheap guys probably sat there and tortured yourselves because you paid for the ticket. No-one forced this on bought the ticket, you went to the theater, you watched the did everything out of free will...and then why bitch about it so much?????/

Sindu said...

@ThunderEmperor: I don't understand one thing. Why dont any of you 'nice' people stop reading unfairly vile blogs? You typed the url, and read through the whole thing though you dont agree with it. No one forced this on you... you opted to come, you opted to did everything out of free will.... then why bitch about the post so much????

On a more serious note, no one bitched about the movie in this post. Only a certain aspect of movies in general was being discussed...which in my opinion is constructive.

ThunderEmperor said... got me there

Anonymous said...

If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.

Anonymous said...

This post ought to have been nominated for an award. My bad on missing an opportunity.


Sinduja said...

@V: :) Glad you think so. And that is more than me.

Rakesh Balakrishnan said...

the fundamental problem is mutation.
thats what gives raise to complex sexual fantasies over time. thats what makes simple systems complicated more and more.
when man wants to make life simple he needs to put an end to mutation and that is his own mind.