Malayalam actor abduction: The 'intellectual' Kerala man shows his true colours as a misogynist

The 'intellectual' Malayalee man often claims to be a feminist but his mask drops when it really matters - as it has in the case of Dileep.
Malayalam actor abduction: The 'intellectual' Kerala man shows his true colours as a misogynist
Malayalam actor abduction: The 'intellectual' Kerala man shows his true colours as a misogynist
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The anti-feminist 'intellectual' Malayalee man is a phenomenon by himself. He's equipped with lethal drippings from the global Keralite syndrome - the boasting of literacy rates and the intellectualism that follows; he can even quote a few lines from a post war Jean-Luc Godard movie. He's typically a left thinker, and has equally mastered the first world’s art of intellectual deception.

Of course, one of the main deceptions that a Malayalee man of this description practices artfully is pretending allegiance to feminism. This Malayalee man will directly stake claims that he is a feminist, he vouches for all things feminism, and he wholeheartedly participates in gender discourse.

After all, the Kerala sex ratio speaks for itself, women inherit property, girl children are more in demand for adoption, women are outspoken, bank lockers bulge with women expatriates' fixed deposits, and if you watch Kerala from a bird’s-eye view, it is littered with feminist women ingrained in politics and socio-culture.

Yet, the sociocultural framework of Kerala is extremely male-oriented and chauvinistic. Along with the lewd catcalls, the chechi slurs, the constant feeling up of female bodies while in a crowd, there's also subtle and structural male chauvinism.

Women's rights or issues are ‘humourous’. In movies, art, and public discourse, a feminist is a laughable object. She is caricatured as a frustrated woman, a hypocrite who is lazy and seeks attention. Why do we need more feminists when society has already achieved its golden gender equality, is the question that men of this belief have in their mind. What more do you need, they seem to ask.

Many movies, literature, and art depict the Malayalee man as always in conflict with a ‘powerful’ woman; it is no surprise that the Malayalee culture still nurtures the Yakshi (a female vampire) concept, a female vampire wandering in the night, powerful enough to seduce a man and leave only his nails and teeth to the next day’s light.

The real hero

Take as an example the Jisha case. In 2016, a 29-year-old Dalit woman, a law student, was found brutally murdered and mutilated on a summer night in April. She'd also been raped.

For an abominable crime of this nature, Jisha’s family was scrutinised and called ‘dysfunctional’. Their poverty was also blamed for the incident. There were calls to build a stable home that would ‘protect’ them - as if gender violence happens because people don't have proper homes.

Kerala society tries to detach itself from its own culpability when such crimes occur, and quickly arraigns ‘others’ and ‘other reasons’, even when it displays the outrage about what has happened.

In order to achieve this, as soon as a sexual crime surfaces, the women are unkindly scrutinised. In a protest for Jisha’s murder and rape, Kerala’s popular film actor and a ‘mega star’ Mammootty, commented, “The real hero is one who protects the dignity of women.”

Remind yourselves, this declaration of protection of dignity was made in a large function among many social and cultural stalwarts. The assertion was that Jisha had somehow ‘lost’ her ‘dignity’ through rape and that it was up to ‘real’ men to ‘protect’ it.

This, after women’s rights organisations and feminists, have cried from the rooftops for decades, that this is not about us women, this is about men attacking women. Turn your cameras to the perpetrators. Turn your focus to men, turn your focus to patriarchy. No, rape is not about lost ‘dignity’.

Where are the feminists?

Malayalee society is a tad kinder to women who died during such attacks. But as for women, who survived and struggle to live, the Malayalee "intellectual" broflakes are up in arms and lament about how the perpetrator's family peace is destroyed due to this blot on his honour.

Especially if the man happens to be in a powerful position, they cry about how his career has been affected, how he is losing friends - and all because the woman is trying to seek "attention". Enough is enough, now let us move on to more important topics like ‘famine of South Sudan’, everything is all right in Kerala, the "intellectual" men screams.

While these arguments are made, a common question that such men raise is, ‘Where are the feminists?” It is as if feminists are a police or protection force to be called in, whenever there is gender violence. Mind you, the feminists are not needed for all cases. They believe they get to choose when and where feminists should be involved. The perpetrators are men but the answers have to come from feminists.

Where are you when we need you? clamour the men. It sounds similar to ‘Where are my bike keys’, ‘Where are my glasses’...and the image they probably have in their minds is that of a dutiful woman coming forward to give them what they need.

‘Dignity’ of Silence

In this backdrop comes the recent case of a young woman actor who is going places, gaining immense popularity, and with a growing fan base. She was brutally assaulted in a moving van by four men and her harassment was recorded.

The police say they have evidence of a conspiracy allegedly hatched by a fellow actor. Unlike many victims who were silenced and remain unknown, this is a visible woman. Everybody knows her. Unlike the others, she spoke up about what had happened and said, ‘I will fight until I get justice’.

However, as soon as Dileep’s name as the mastermind of the crime began to do the rounds, he started to craft the appearance of a family man, of a sympathetic and friendly human being, an approachable next door movie star.

Years ago, when his first wife, Manju Warrier (a very popular film actor herself), left him, he used the same script -- that of a woman destroying his peaceful family. In one of his interviews during those days, he clearly mentioned how his wife did not even stay to comb his daughter’s hair and how she abruptly left home. This, when the popular female actor had become a homemaker since their marriage and stayed away from movies.

It looked as if, he had no clue, why she had to take such a drastic decision and leave home, when all the while he was the quintessential family man.

According to men who write and believe in this script, a Kerala family man never hurts his wife, a family man tries to protect the dignity of his woman, and is a 'real hero'.

Dileep may well be innocent of the crime that he's currently accused of. But even if he were guilty, he has the privilege, power, and money to come out of all this.

However, observe how society has reacted. For some, this privileged man was made a scapegoat. There are ample stories of him doing charity, as if all these are evidences that prove that he cannot commit a sexual crime.

Senior actors, some even elected representatives, stood strongly by him during a press meet, after he was questioned for 12 hours by the police as a possible suspect. They shouted, grunted and barked at the journalists questioning his presence.

He was visible everywhere until the police arrested him. Dileep still speaks through many men, some furious (how could such a nice man do it?), some sympathetic (what all he has to go through).

The "intellectual" Malayalee men are furious and angry. Crying, kicking and screaming. Of the injustice done to one among them. The brutally assaulted woman, her voice, her anger, her presence, all that has been erased out of view after the assault.

She doesn’t share any stage. She is not in any press meet. She cannot even be named. She has committed the social crime of standing up for her rights, her space. Even as Dileep has targeted her in his statements to the media, she has maintained that she has no evidence of his involvement but that she will fight till the end.

What if she'd had an outburst like he did? She will immediately be held responsible for destroying him. She has to balance and check her emotions. Imagine if she appears happy, society would turn immediately against her, blaming her. The rumour mills will grind ceaselessly to manufacture stories of how this attack could not have happened, how a woman is trying to destroy the tranquility of God’s own country.

With this, the Malayalee "hero" will once again swear that he will protect the dignity and honour of his fellow women until his death.

Dear women, please do not make the Malayalee misogynist angry. Stay calm at the male ‘macktivists’. Stay calm and disappear.

(Views expressed are the personal opinions of the author)

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