Why did Mahua Moitra escape unscathed after giving Arnab Goswami the middle finger?
news Friday, January 16, 2015 - 05:30
"You know Arnab, just keep talking. This is a one man show...just keep talking", said an exasperated Mahua Moitra, Gen Secretary & Spokesperson of the Trinamool Congress on the January 5 episode of The News Hour debate with Arnab Goswami on Times Now. Moitra was one among the three panelists on the debate discussing the attempt to murder charge against the man who slapped Abhishek Banerjee, Mamata Banerjee's nephew. The debate, anchored by the channel's editor-in-chief Goswami, has for a long time now been characterised by high decibels and a cacophonous atmosphere. Moitra it seemed was not being able to finish her response as quickly as Goswami bombarded her with charged questions. But what, at least at the moment went unnoticed, was that the TMC spokesperson made a gesture displaying her annoyance. She was caught on camera giving the middle finger. Yes! She did that! It was momentary and uncharacteristically, Goswami just went on with the debate. Why? Remember Meenkahi Lekhi's fate? Well, a source in Times Now says the action was so quick that no one on the News Hour show noticed, but some in the news desk did. Later, the tapes were checked and they realised Moitra had not only shown the middle finger, but mumbled "Just F*** it". However, soon screenshots of Moitra giving the middle finger were doing the rounds on social media, with many wondering whether it was more of an offence because she did it on national television. On Tuesday morning we are told Moitra called Goswami to apologise, but the damage had been done. The middle finger gesture has often been considered as a derogatory sign. Of late, its usage on screen and real life seems to have dramatically increased with even public figures not shying away from giving their piece of mind. Sonam Kapoor reportedly showed her middle finger to the media during the promotions of her film Players. The Censor Board objected to Sonam Kapoor's middle finger gesture in the movie, following which she said at a press conference, "I don't believe in censorship, so whether they like it or not, I really don't care about it. I just want people to come and see my film. Showing a middle finger is a part of today's youth." In 2012, annoyed by taunts from the crowd, Indian sportsperson Virat Kohli showed his middle finger to a section of crowd during Day 2 of the second Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Kohli later tweeted, "I agree cricketers don't have to retaliate. What when the crowd says the worst things about your mother and sister. the worst I've heard". These are but a few instances from India, where as celebs and public figures in the West have often been caught on camera 'giving the middle finger'. Now that we are talking about the middle finger, where did the middle finger gesture originate from? And why does it have base connotations? According to a BBC report titled When did the middle finger become offensive?, 'The middle finger, extended with the other fingers held beneath the thumb, is thus documented to have expressed insult and belittlement for more than two millennia'. Anthropologist Desmond Morris told the BBC, "It's one of the most ancient insult gestures known. The middle finger is the penis and the curled fingers on either side are the testicles. By doing it, you are offering someone a phallic gesture. It is saying, 'this is a phallus' that you're offering to people, which is a very primeval display." It is not just humans, but animals too apparently were documented to be using such a gesture. Male squirrel monkeys of South America are known to gesture with the erect penis, added Dr Morris. The Romans and the Greeks used the middle finger gestures much before we started. The Greeks used the middle finger as a reference to the male genitalia. The Romans on the other hand had termed the gesture digitus impudicus, meaning, the shameless, indecent or offensive finger. From being used in wars to plays and now to express a variety of emotions including displeasure and rage, the middle finger gesture as BBC puts it seems to have transcended 'cultural, linguistic and national boundaries'.