“A masturbate a day keeps the haters away.” — Miley Cyrus
For those who’ve seen ‘Veere Di Wedding’ over the weekend, you’d get the reference. Those who haven’t would have gotten spoilers, courtesy Twitter trolls who can’t even spell masturbation, as hundreds of handles copy-pasted the identical text over the weekend.
They blame Swara Bhasker, whose sex-deprived marriage in the film forces her to get off with the help of a vibrator, for letting Hindustan down. But how does that even work?
“There is so much sexual content already in our films — the item songs with vulgar thrusts, the camera moving up and down a woman’s body and so much more,” said Alankrita Shrivastava, the director of the controversial film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, last year. “All of this though caters to the male gaze, and the moment you talk about the woman’s perspective, everyone gets uncomfortable.”
“We, as audiences, are almost trained to consume a particular form of sexual content where everything revolves around pleasing a man. The woman is simply restricted to being either the virtuous wife or the virginal figure, who has no desires of her own.”
But even in ‘Lipstick…Burkha’, women are shamed for expressing their sexuality, as opposed to ‘Veere Di Wedding.’ In the scene in question, Swara’s husband walks in on her, but fails to stop her mid-act. She only responds to him once she’s climaxed. She’s however ostracised and blackmailed for the incident by her husband thereafter in the movie. But in the end, her parents side with her upon learning about the incident. In fact, her husband gets called out.
So, again, how does this exactly let Hindustan’s grandmothers down?
It’s the same Hindustan who’s pro-male gaze culture has men wanking their penises while looking at a woman in the eye; the same culture that normalises male masturbation in movies like ‘Masti’ and ‘Kyaa Kool Hai Hum’; the same pop culture where male masturbation is commonly hurled around in cuss words.
The most recent example of male masturbation in Bollywood was Irrfan’s ‘Blackmail.’ In the movie, he plays a frustrated toilet paper sales executive who nabs the photographs of other women to masturbate. There was literally zero hue and cry when a male actor was depicted doing what he was doing but when an female does it on screen, and the world comes to an end.
This behaviour is a stark reminder of how far India as a society has come when it comes to talking about women and their lives. But these are also the same times where a film like ‘Veere Di Wedding’ has seen the light of the day. Hoping against hope for the trolls to catch up.