As distasteful and crass Vivek Oberoi’s tweet about his ex was, I am neither surprised by the tweet, nor by his remorseless, arrogant remarks after being called out for it. After all, he is a man. Men in our society are conditioned to mock, call out names, and even threaten the women who reject them. It is a right that society has bestowed upon them since eternity.
The controversial meme featured three pictures of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan with two of her past boyfriends and her husband, and was captioned “opinion polls”, “exit polls” and “results”.
As I was writing this article, news came in that Vivek decided to take down the tweet after he was shredded for sharing the meme and was also served notices from the National Commission and the Maharashtra State Commission for Women.
His apology was also accompanied by statements claiming that he had worked for the upliftment of women- “I have spent the last 10 years empowering more than 2000 underprivileged girls” in a childish attempt to redeem his image, somehow trying to underline the notion that he doesn’t hate or make fun of all women. Maybe only the ones that he has been dumped by.
Sadly, Vivek Oberoi’s behavior is not an exception but almost the rule. Men who are rejected by women continue to harbor negative feelings for ages, and look for convenient outlets to vent often disguising it as harmless jokes. It drives me a little crazy every time a man thinks it is okay to crack a sexist, misogynist remark and say, “hey come on, it was just a joke.” If it was indeed a joke, why aren’t we laughing? Why isn’t Aishwarya Rai laughing? And god forbid, if you call out a man for something offensive that he said, you will be labelled an ‘over thinker’, ‘dramatic’ or ‘over sensitive’.
When Sonam Kapoor called out Vivek, his response was, “Stop overacting in your films and stop overreacting on social media.” Another unwarranted and dishonorable remark which shows how easy it is to stir up a man’s fragile ego simply by pointing out a mistake he made in the first place.
Vivek’s comment also underlines the regressive patriarchal belief that women who have been in more than one relationship ought to be embarrassed about it. ‘She toh keeps on changing boyfriends’, is a common statement thrown around to invalidate and question a woman’s character and dignity. But take note, this valuable method of assessing one’s character only applies only to women. Men are free to have as many partners as they like. How convenient.
It isn’t the first time I have heard a man crack insulting jokes about his ex’s choices and life decisions. It happens all the time, at workplaces, at parties, at home. Casual off-handed remarks are a coping mechanism for men who think they have moved on but really haven’t. It isn’t all their fault really because men are never taught to take no for an answer. They are brought up to believe they are a blessing to mankind, and any woman who rejects them must be a fool.
Maybe it was just cheap tactic by Vivek to remain relevant till the time his movie comes out or maybe he really did find the meme funny, regardless of the reason, the question is
How long will it men to understand that it is 2019, and sexist jokes are canceled!