Swara Bhaskar, who like every woman in India has faced sexual harassment and violence, spoke about her own experiences, of the sense of guilt women are made to carry for their harassers’ actions, and her definition of feminism, as part of an interview with DNA.
When asked if she was abused, Swara said:
“You tell me who hasn’t been? It is somehow a rite of passage for a passenger in India to be molested. People actually chat about the first time they were molested. Usually, all girls have faced molestation by the time they are around 14-15. That’s how dangerous our society is. I don’t believe you can grow up in any part of the world, and especially in India, without ever being molested by a man. It is not possible. I have been molested. Interestingly, I have been molested and eve-teased in Mumbai as much as I have had to deal with it in Delhi.”
“The biggest challenge for a woman in a society where you have to be ashamed for what has happened to you, is to fight your impulse. I have done that, I have fought my impulses to make myself react.”
Swara talked about travelling with Salman Khan and the other cast during the making of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, and having to make her way through the crowds.
“I have been groped during Prem Ratan Dhan Payo when we landed at Rajkot. I was travelling with Salman Sir and nobody realised, but there were around 2,000 people at the airport to see him. Despite the fact there was security, people got in and it was Anupam Kher who made sure I got into the car. It was crazy. As a female artiste, you know the feeling of being vulnerable in front of a crowd, which is why I connected with my character Anaarkali.”
Further into the interview, she spoke about victim shaming and guilt:
“Frankly, Indian women inherit this collective cultural unconscious — this sense of guilt, shame and dishonour. What do we teach our girl child today? We teach them to be guilty of their own desires, if they shop for themselves it’s wrong. But spend on your husband, your kids, be obedient and think about everybody else’s good except yours.”
“I think Indian girls need to become shameless and a little selfish too. It’s not about individuals, it’s about girls in general. We need to lose that burden of guilt and that ‘haww’ feeling. That is the stupidest feeling ever.”
And finally, she talked about what feminism means to her:
“Feminism believes that men and women should be free of gender constraints. Their sex should not determine what their aspirations, personalities or their opportunities are in life. So, a woman shouldn’t always be pressured to be a woman, a man also shouldn’t constantly be asked to ‘Be a man’. Feminism is equally fighting for men — to be free of masculinity. If there’s a pressure of patriarchy on women, there’s also a huge pressure that patriarchy puts on men — to be manly, masculine in a certain way.”
Read the full interview here.
Also Read: Silverscreen Review of Anaarkali of Aarah
Also Read: Swara Bhaskar: Men are uncomfortable with the idea of Women’s sexuality.