Is sindoor oppressive? Virushka picture sets off social media storm

One social media user accused Anushka of complying with patriarchal norms. Not surprising, few some debated with her, but most were quick to spew venom.
Is sindoor oppressive? Virushka picture sets off social media storm
Is sindoor oppressive? Virushka picture sets off social media storm
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Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma and skipper of the Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli created quite a buzz on the internet when they formally announced their wedding, by posting photos of the ceremony in Italy.

‘Virushka’ as the couple is nicknamed, also held a grand reception in Delhi, which was attended by prominent names in sports, Bollywood and politics, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

At the reception, Anushka sported a red Benarasi saree, with her hair tied up in a bun, sindoor highlighting her parting.

Everyone knows that the sindoor is seen as an indicator of being married and belonging to a man in matrimony. Some argue that it is a regressive practice – like wearing a mangalsutra, nose rings or gold bangles - which requires a woman to mark herself as ‘taken’, but there is no such counterpart for men.

One social media user was quite miffed with Anushka’s choice to wear the sindoor so prominently for her first public appearance as a married woman in India. In her opinion, when privileged and powerful women comply with patriarchal norms, “they help to impose it on the women who don't have the means to oppose them”.

Read her full post here:

Abhiruchi’s view is indeed problematic. While ideally a privileged person could, and would, carry more social responsibility, it is unfair to make it a compulsion. It is important to remember that people, no matter how famous or powerful, should be free to choose their battles.

Besides, it is also possible that Anushka wore sindoor as an accessory – the same way some women wear henna, dupatta, rings, bangles or even the mangalsutra as accessories if they so wish to. This does not discount the fact that there are a number of women who do not have the freedom to exercise this choice, and are even pressured into wearing the markers of being married.

At the same time, it is a little unfair to expect all of society to disassociate symbols from their patriarchal meanings before someone can wear it out of choice.

Having said that, Abhiruchi’s comments have attracted quite a lot of vitriol, courtesy trolls. The comments and remarks on her post are only a reflection of toxic misogyny and masculinity, which are unleashed on women who express their opinions against patriarchy.

One person for instance, replied saying that women like her would blame god tomorrow for imposing childbirth on women – yet again feeding into the idea that motherhood should not be a choice, but a given, a duty.

Another troll deployed the overused trope of spewing insults at her mother. And one man challenged her saying, “We’ll see when you get married.”

One man, who defended Abhiruchi’s right to express her opinion, even if it may not be agreeable, was told by another man that he would not get sex because he defended her.

Another troll said in typical regressive fashion, “This is what happens when women study too much. Apparently, ‘too much education’ blinds them to the difference between right and wrong.”

And, of course, there were the classic trolls who called her a whore, because that, apparently, is the worst insult you can heap on a woman when you do not have an argument. 

Most of these comments have little to offer in terms of counter arguments and only aim to shame the author of the post on superficial and flimsy grounds. It clearly goes on to show that people who have the upper hand in the status quo can rarely stomach critique for their position or couch it in polite language.

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