Bollywood & Rape Jokes

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Over the past few days, we have a constant streaming of news about the events at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. It was a matter of pride for us as Indians to see Nandita Das, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut mark their presence in such a prestigious event.

On the last day of Cannes 2018, we were in for a rude awakening when a video of Jim Sarbh, of Neerja fame and Kangana Ranaut at an apparent Cannes after-party recently floated, where Jim Sarbh made this joke:

“I’d rather be raped by 12 prostitutes than touch alcohol and the Punjabi says ‘Me too, I didn’t know that was an option.”

What is shocking is Kangana Ranaut reaction to the joke. She was one of the few Bollywood celebs who had called out to Salman Khan on his rape comment was seen now being slammed and termed as hypocrite for cracking up at his insensitive joke.

At a time when we are still reeling form the horrors of Kathua and Unnao rape cases, Jim Sarbh’s ‘rape’ joke hasn’t gone down well. Kangana Ranaut who is the female icon of bollywood is also being slammed and termed a hypocrite for cracking up at his insensitive joke.

Social media reminded Kangana Ranaut that she had been one of the few celebrities who had criticized Salman’s “raped woman” analogy. Back in 2016, she had said, “We all agree that it’s a horrible thing to say, something that is extremely insensitive… But let’s not encourage that mentality where we want to point fingers at each other and want to feel greater by running people down by trolling them… So, like what Salim uncle says is right, that we are all sorry about it. It’s not about an individual. We all collectively feel sorry for that thought process,”

Here’s how people reacted to the incident on Twitter:

After Bashing #SalmanKhan #KanganaRanaut laughs on a rape joke by Jim Sarbh These almost ppl…think it’s okay to joke n laugh about rape.We live in a society that teaches women to defend themselves from rape, instead of teaching men not to rape women n they laugh!Shame on u!

Samy Gioia (@SamyGioia) 18 May 2018

Rape is a dark word. Let’s not water it down to describe a brutal gym session or a bad day at work or with a joke.@jimSarbh#KanganaRanaut have some sense before cracking such jokes !!

Dhruvesh Shah (@dhruveshshahz16) May 17, 2018

“Feminist ” #KanganaRanaut laughs as Jim Sarbh cracks a joke about ‘rape’ at #Cannes !! Bloody #Hypocrites !! Feminism | Women empowerment ki baate sirf aapni movies promote karte waqt media k samne yaad aate hai innko !! #Shame

Arnab (@_a_r_n_a_b) May 17, 2018

Dear Jim Sarbh/ Kangana Ranaut Rape jokes are not funny. Rape is NOT a joke. If you tell or laugh at jokes about rape you are a part of the problem.

(@karishmau) May 15, 2018

Kangs is A grade hypocrite (nothing new) and this Jim Sarbh turned out to be a piece of shit. Rape jokes are not okay… stfu ..

BANNO (@Inception700) May 15, 2018

Jim Sarbh is cancelled. One. He made a hideous joke and included a vital thing called ‘Rape’ Two. he included ‘prostitute’ in that “I would rather be raped by 12 prostitutes…” are you freaking kidding me ? you just stated that they are as equal as Rapists ? Go get a life man

— Fuddu (@_shruti_singh_) May 15, 2018

Since the backlash, Jim Sarabh has tried to clarify his stand.

Jim Sarbh clarified that his action was video-recorded without his consent and produced out of context.

“Sexual violence is a serious issue and I treat it as such. It is unfortunate that my comments were taken out of context. I do not now nor have I ever condoned any form of sexual violence,” he said.

In an interview to a website, Jim broke it down saying: “The joke that I made is about a priest blowing a very casual question completely out of proportion, condemning alcohol, prostitutes, and rape all simultaneously. The Punjabi (or whichever ethnicity, depending on the audience) responds to the situation by consenting to it and expressing his sexual proclivities. I personally do not find it to be about a desire to rape, or to inflict sexual violence upon another, but a subversive and comedic response to an extremely volatile sentence.”

The joke was also laden with a mockery of #MeToo, and the Punjabis (or whichever ethnicity, depending on the audience).

He further clarified by saying:

“I’m sorry the joke offended you. The joke is not about committing sexual violence, but about men being stupid and blowing situations out of proportions: one condemning, the other accepting.  I am sorry it is upsetting, I will be more careful in the future.”

Even though the joke was not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings, this incident brings to light a very important issue – rape is such a normal part of our society, that we do not think twice before cracking a ‘rape joke’, or using it in a statement.

Bollywood has over the years normalized rape culture. Even though actual rape is not glorified, and rapists are still villains. It is the misogyny, stalking, insensitive statements that we see in movies that are contributing to rape culture.

Rape is NOT A JOKE. And Rape Jokes are not funny.

It is high time that we take note of this.


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