Commentary > Performing lust, rendering misogyny
  • Sid B

    I think this article is a lot more problematic than the movie, criticizing the stories for not agreeing to some monolithic idea of sexual empowerment. I think the movie, in its 1st three segment does a wonderful job in portraying how women–of different class, caste, educational and social backgrounds–can and do exercise agency and control over their sexuality within the very real backdrop of everyday constraints that they are made to face.

    There are many instances where the author clearly misrepresents what is being portrayed in the movie to suit her conclusion. I’ll pick on one:

    On Reena’s character in Dibaker’s story: of the three central characters in that story, Reena is the one who controls the narrative. She is the one who is unashamed of her action (“infidelity”), admits to it with pain but without shame, submits to her husband (because let’s not forget that patriarchy is very much real) and yet possesses almost mother-like control over her husband-child. Instead of letting the buddy boys control the narrative of the situation, SHE spoils the boys pact at the very last minute of the story and really owns the story. Yes, she leaves with her husband in the end but that’s also an active choice she makes, just like her choice to tell her lover that her husband (his best friend) knows it all and yet wouldn’t confront the situation head-on (an act of cowardice perhaps?). If that isn’t an empowering resolution, what is? It’s weird that the author finds Reena’s emotional vulnerability as a weak point, rather than an exercise in self-expression. Isn’t it more problematic to show women as this ideal type of emotionally sorted mythical beings while in real life most women, like most men, are emotionally troubled, compromised people who make mistakes, act on impulses, are subjected and subjugated by constraints of class, caste, and culture and YET manage to exercise power within those confines?

    At best, this critique is a poor reading of the movie; at worst, it’s more manipulative than Karan Johar’s segment (which I agree was very problematic).

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