There is a difference between #MyChoice and #DeepikasChoice

Published: March 31, 2015
Email

The spirit of the video, like its visualisation, remained black and white. PHOTO: YOUTUBE SCREENGRAB

Dear Deepika,

I have been a fan of yours ever since you graced us with your presence on the big screen.

When you spoke out against a national publication in your country, for misusing an inappropriate picture of you, I was with you. People thought it hypocritical, seeing that you are an actress who has time and again displayed skin as a part of your work in front of the camera. But the reluctant feminist inside me still defended your right to bash the publication.

When you came out to the public and admitted to have gone through a phase of depression, I admired your strength and still do. Last week, you did the same in an interview with NDTV and talked about the agony a person goes through because of depression. When you cried, I cried with you, as I’m sure did many others who watched you break down on national television.

Skeptics said,

“She’s Deepika Padukone, what does she have to be depressed about?’’

I defended your right to feel low and have feelings.

Then yesterday, I saw another video of yours. A social awareness campaign video by Vogue Empower. The video is shot and directed beautifully. The words were impactful and your voice was strong but unfortunately Deepika, your message was weak.

While the video started off with great ideas of ‘my body is mine’ and women empowerment is the way to go, somewhere along the way, in between powerful imagery, candid shots, 99 women, hair flying and bra strap opening, the essence of the message was lost. The spirit of the video, like its visualisation, remained black and white.

This is not empowerment and this is certainly not feminism.

From what I could make out of this thoroughly confusing video is that a modern day woman has complete control over what she does.

To wear what she wants is her choice – agreed

To have sex or not is her choice – agreed

To marry or not is her choice – completely agreed!

To have sex outside of marriage is her choice – Uhh, you lost me there…

From empowering women you went straight to condoning infidelity, in just a matter of seconds. We have the right to cheat on our husbands; really, Deepika? Adultery, sure, that’ll make us equal to men or the superior sex!

A woman’s empowerment comes from her choices, yes, but it also comes from her ability to recognise good choices from bad. And empowerment comes from the courage to take responsibility of those very choices.

Perhaps your idea of feminism is completely different from mine. For me, feminism is about uplifting our gender and making it a strength, to stand equal to men and be recognised for it. Feminism is not about making the same mistakes as men and justifying it as our ‘choice’. You showed young girls watching your video that if you come home at four or six am, your spouse or family has no right to ask you why because it’s ‘your choice’. You said to them,

“Take off your bra, it’s your choice and you will be empowered.’’

Countless young girls around the world watched your video Deepika, you should have shown them that feminism is about being the ultimate modern day woman. Modern does not just mean in style and the right to wear whatever you want. A modern day woman is an informed, contemporary and responsible citizen. She should be someone who shouldn’t feel the need to depend on her spouse for the bread that she eats, she can bravely step out of her home (or cage, as you called it) and make something of herself, she is someone who dares to demand her rights, she regards her child as an asset, not a burden forced upon her, she has the courage to defy society’s suffocating norms and be free of all veils, real or symbolic. A wife, a mother, a home-maker, a student, a professional – she is the quintessence of power along with all the vulnerabilities.

That is empowerment and that for me is feminism. And to be such a woman, Ms Deepika Padukone, that is MY CHOICE.

Sonal Arshad Siraj

Sonal Arshad Siraj

A student of psychology and social sciences, who likes to eat and write in that order. She tweets @Sonal_arshad (twitter.com/Sonal_arshad?lang=en)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.