Whenever the inherent inequity operating within a social system reaches a tipping point it results in an episode that becomes public. In today’s timeline it trends on social media and like a selfie, public opinion puts itself to the vote. This is happening almost on a daily basis in social groups large and small. For an observer of social trends there are two thumb rules to assess how progressive a social group, country, civilisation or society is.
1) How loud is the outrage against the inherent inequity that produced the incident?
For example, as long as child trafficking was a nebulous cause it was used by Rani Mukherjee and the makers of Mardaani to promote their film on child trafficking. But when an incident of a famous child artist now grown up and busted in a prostitution racket comes up all the afore mentioned are unavailable for comment. Only Hansal Mehta is willing to give this poor girl a job. Why? Could it be because trafficking is foundational to the edifice of Bollywood? And as a people we are not aware enough, bothered enough, progressive enough to bring this edifice down? A conscious enlightened society empowers the disempowered. We are not there, yet.
2) What is the power quotient of the culprit?
Power here is defined as the ability to influence public and private opinion. Every incident that results in public outrage needs somebody to blame, the way every mob needs somebody to lynch. Less progressive a society higher the chance of victim blaming. As in the case of rape, it is the victim’s fault not the rapist’s.
Deepika Padukone’s declaration that she is a woman and therefore she has breasts, is not only a brilliant deduction but anatomically correct as well. Her rage against the country bumpkin who made the asinine comment and grovelled out an ingratiating apology soon after is what it is. The Bollywood pantheon has made a grand show of crawling out of the woodwork to bay for the village idiot’s blood who finds himself suddenly representing all of the media. But, (there’s always a but in sociology, that’s why it’s a college subject) these are the same stars who were silent when a former child artiste was being publicly hauled over the coals.
What would Deepika Padukone do if Siddharth Mallya made her a lewd if similar comment? Did Deepika Padukone protest Preity Zinta’s violation by Ness Wadia? It is far more difficult to single handedly take on Bombay Dyeing than it is to take on a stupid journalist. While Bollywood’s support for Deepika Padukone’s cleavage is enough to deem it a national treasure why does the same Bollywood consider Preity’s violation a private matter between Ness and Preity? Could it be because Ness has a high power quotient? Could it be because Ness is definitely not the village idiot? Lambs are sacrificed, not lions. Old jungle saying. The disempowered take the fall for a social crime in an unconscious society. The powerful are their opinion makers, they are the ones who issue out moral edicts. Unfortunately their self- righteousness is selective and reflected in the inherent inequities in their power structures.
Selective morality in an unconscious society practices selective hearing and selective blindness as well. In such societies only some women have breasts. Others just don’t.