A nameless, faceless man interrogated a young woman, circling back to the same question: aren’t you ashamed? Well – are you, Behindwoods?

Screenshot of the problematic interview on Behindwoods with a woman who was in a viral video talking about sex and desireScreenshot from Behindwoods interview
Voices Opinion Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 18:55

If you’ve watched that video, I’m here in solidarity and anger with you. If you haven’t, please give me your luck or will power – whichever is applicable! I’m talking of course about the most problematic video on Tamil Internet this week, where a nameless, faceless interrogator from popular media house Behindwoods harasses, slut-shames and emotionally abuses a young woman for over 20 minutes. He hides not just behind the camera, but also behind shoulds and coulds and woulds. Why? Because he was O-F-F-E-N-D-E-D. Offended that this young woman dared to talk about sex and desire on a video.

Context: Last week, a video by YouTube channel Chennai Talks went viral. The video had a young woman talking, as we say, jolly-a about sex and desire and alcohol etc. And on cue, she started getting abused and threatened online by the average Avengers of our culture and morality. She was slut-shamed, called names, and in general given the kind of treatment our society reserves for young women who have a voice, and other such species.

While this was happening, three people who ran the YouTube channel were arrested and charged for sexual harassment and public obscenity. The police say they made the arrests based on a tipoff. The woman in the video however has said that she has filed a complaint against the channel because they aided her online harassment by not disabling the comments on the video, and by publishing the video in various other channels in a manner that portrays her in a negative light. She had only consented to her video being on the Chennai Talks channel, she has said – adding that while the show was ‘scripted’ to an extent, she was not coerced into saying anything.

Now, among those whose Kulturally Manly FeelingsTM were hurt, is the nameless interviewer from Behindwoods – let’s call him Mr Be-Hound Woods. How could this woman talk about a threesome, he wonders, although he can’t really bring himself to use the word ‘threesome’. “Pen paesa vendiya paechu dhaana idhu?” he says, a line that Mr Be-Hound and his team are very proud of, because it’s right up there in the intro sequence of the torture video. “Is this how a woman should speak?”

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In fact, this Original ThoughtTM haD Mr Be-Hound & co so giddy, that it’s the whole point of this interview. To make this young person feel Shame, with a capital S. To make her shudder as she is posed questions from the protector of Kulturally Manly FeelingsTM.

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Unfortunately, the ugly truth is that Mr Be-Hound is not the first Tamil male interviewer to take on the role of a Shamer, Interrogator or Ogler during an interview with a woman. Remember the time Pandey interviewed singer Chinmayi about MeToo and her accusations of sexual harassment against lyricist Vairamuthu? He was so intent on the ‘why haven’t you spoken out so far’, and the ‘oh so you’re only talking now because it’s a trend is it’ line of questioning, the interview was painful to go through to even at 1.5x speed. And then of course there are the men who are comfortable saying things like they’ve lusted after their interviewees… One wonders what Mr Be-Hound has to say about that. I’m guessing not much.

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There’s a popular sentiment among these interviewers that was expressed quite succinctly by another M-A-N on a WhatsApp group I am obligated to be a part of: “Feminism is a disease.” These men believe that women having any agency over their bodies – and worse still, their thoughts – is an assault on their masculinity.

A woman thinking for herself and expressing sexual desire, is a big no-no for them. ‘Tamil culture’, according to them, is one where a woman is ‘pious’ – so pious that not only does she shut up about sex and desire, she also shuts about about sexual harassment and domestic violence. A Good Woman is someone who can stay quiet, listen to everything that the men in her life dictate, never cross boundaries, never refuse to cook food and clean the house, and are always willing to say Yes Sir Yes Sir Three Bags Full Sir to them.

And any time a woman refuses to do this, she’s Bad. She’s shameless, she doesn’t have virtue, she should be put back into her place.

And it’s this regressive thinking that they bring into such shaming sessions interviews. They enjoy these sessions because it’s a display of power over a vulnerable person, a display that they can make some shudder and reduce them to tears with their Superiority.

I wish these men a fall from their moral high horses. 

Views expressed are the author's own.

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