Poonam Pandey’s stunt – “Sullying” Indian women?

It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a cricket match. At least ten years. And today I watched it starting at 6:00 am for 12 hours straight! And right up to the last six I was holding on with bated breath :) But everything about the world cup has already been said, and there’s nothing for me to contribute. Apart from the interesting case of Poonam Pandey.

A few days back she had promised to strip out of joy if the Indian team won. And win they did. From the start, everyone said that the whole thing was an attention grabbing stunt. If so, it’s worked very well. All our babus, netas, and fire breathing moralists are up in arms. We have many sections in the IPC dealing with things like obscenity and the horribly named “Indecent representation of women.” The BJP has predictably gone all out to “protect” the image of women. But this statement really made me perk up my ears:

Indian women are revered and respected since time immemorial. We have a tradition of Sita, Draupadi, Jijamata, Queen of Jhansi, Tarabai Holkar, Savitri Phule, Ramabai Ambedkar, Sarojini Naidu, Indira Gandhi, Kalpana Chawla and many more…there are many other ways of celebrating India’s victory without sullying the image of Indian women before the whole world.

Ok, so I have several problems with this statement (no surprise there!) But for those who think this is reasonable, here are my objections:

1. What is wrong with nudity?

One of the two main premises of the argument is that nudity is shameful and embarrassing. Specifically, a woman’s nudity is shameful and embarrassing. No one raises a fuss when a guy pees on the road and exposes himself to the world. When sadhus in the Kumbh mela arrive naked not a sound from the moralists. But heaven forbid a woman chooses to do the same!

Here’s a tip to the moralists. Nudity is our natural state. It’s the human body at its best. We were born this way. There’s nothing shameful about it. Stripping people is a popular way to “shame” them in India. Women in villages are stripped by mobs when they go into a moral frenzy. But such people are actually degrading themselves. As if they can deny their own body by shaming another’s.

So lesson number one: Be chill about going nanga!

2. How does one woman represent all of womankind?

Suppose Poonam Pandey decides to do something really degrading to herself. And she’s choosing to go nude which some people find degrading. How does that in any way affect the remaining half a million women in India? Poonam’s choice reflects on herself and herself alone. If she’s doing something silly, don’t go and drag all the remaining Indian women into it! This isn’t very different from the Khap panchayats thinking that a family’s “honor” depends entirely on the woman. We all know how screwed up that is.

3. Why this obsession with women’s dignity? And why Indian women?

So let’s assume that Poonam is doing something shameful and embarrassing for the sake of argument. Let’s also assume for fun that it reflects on others and not just herself. Why is that larger group restricted only to Indian women? Wouldn’t her actions shame all women throughout the world no matter where they are? Are Indian women anatomically different from those found elsewhere? Are there mystical boundaries which prevent her influence from spreading beyond the lines drawn by politicians?

While we’re at it, why should her actions reflect only on women? Why doesn’t it reflect on all human beings? I’m a man and I demand to be affected by Poonam’s “shameful” actions too!

So let’s recap. Here is what the events are like:

  1. Poonam decides to strip
  2. Stripping causes nudity
  3. The nude body is shameful (no one knows why)
  4. Poonam’s actions reflect on all women (no one knows why)
  5. Therefore all women are shamed
  6. But Poonam’s actions shame only Indian women (no one knows why)
  7. Poonam’s actions shame only women (no one knows why)

…..(brain explodes)

So am I wrong in thinking that no woman associates herself with what another woman does? Leave your opinion below:

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Comments

  1. Love the recap.
    For both BJP and Poonam, this is a mere publicity stunt. They are both using nudity as a benefit for their personal causes.
    And this entire izzat, honor, respect saga is so done to death with. With khaps, families, goverments using this a tool to “control” women.
    And Poonam wants to get nude, good for her yaar, how does it effect the Indian women. Anyways, going by the latest Census data, “Indian women” are not going to last long. That should solve the problem for us I guess! All the men can live happily ever after with their izzats & respects.
    And what does holier than thou BJP have to say about “Indian male exhibitionists” lurking and harassing women in the dark alleys and gullys of oh so “respectful” India!

    Reply

  2. Superb post!! Logically analyzing statements by the moralists is the last thing they were expecting when they issued the comment! Coming to think of it, most of the things considered shameful in India are considered so for no valid reason! Hilarious post..Enjoyed it.. Poonam Pandey’s PR agent might actually pay you for this ;)

    Reply

  3. Heard on Poonam Pandey only in the blog world. Who is she?! Apparently she is so important but no one heard of her before this. :-D

    Agree on all points. LOL on your demanding to be affected by her actions.

    We are a bunch of hypocrites as a country and when someone says something contrary to ‘Indian’ culture, we use words like pseudo-secularist. You got one comment here, you must be saying something right! :-D

    Reply

    • In reply to Sangitha

      Yup – seems like “pseudo secularist” is just a general catch phrase without any meaning – applied to anyone who questions the moral brigade’s “Indian culture.”

      Anyone can see that this current post has nothing to do with secularism (or pseudo secularism!)

      Reply

  4. Oh, by the way, Sita and Draupadi would have been ‘sullying Indian culture’ so much more today by just BEING. Marrying five husbands, off with her head. And asking her Joru Ka Ghulam husband to get her the magic deer and then crossing the Lakshman Rekha? She asked for it, off with hers too.

    Reply

    • In reply to Sangitha

      Have any sense of what u r talking about? u people are truly the burden of india , a breed populated by congress through its NCERT education system , u feel urself intellectual by abusing ur own culture ? indian culture is far more superior than you and these western whom u r imitating , whose culture is only skin deep , who kill millions for expanding and still remain the watch dog of democracy ,

      as for nudity is concerned , those who are uprooted from their culture will never be able to understand what is morality , why indian conservative society never accepts such things ,

      Reply

      • In reply to Amit

        It would be more beneficial to your argument were you to actually respond to what she said rather than trying to indulge in abuse. We all know the Mahabharat and Ramayan very well (in spite of “westernized” upbringing!) So if you wish to discuss facts, then go ahead.

        But abusing people is not welcome on my blog.

        Reply

  5. Abusing religious figures are ok on your blog ? specially if they belong to Hinduism , because that will prove ur intellectualism , whatever idea of Ramayana or Mahabharata u have is very skinny , can you show what is relevance of Ramayana or Mahabharata to this stunt of Poonam pandey ? still you need to insult religious figures , what is sense of calling Lord Rama that way ?

    –Rest of comment deleted due to abuse. First warning given to commenter. The next one will be marked as spam, the IP blacklisted and sent to all other blogs as warning–

    Reply

    • In reply to Amit

      Let’s get one thing straight – religious figures are not real people. So whatever is said about them doesn’t harm any real person. If Ram wants, he (or his heirs) can sue people in court – good luck with that :D

      Same goes for abusing Mohammed, Jesus or whatever. Imaginary people don’t have rights like us.

      Reply

  6. Anything just does not becomes imaginary if ur so called neutral history books does not support that , that history itself is flawed , which is not visible to many like you , who r made dumb by this british propaganda about indian history , secondarily by Same way Abusing any person also does not harm anybody , because anyway its all about sentiments , so abusing them is also right , so ur deletion of my comment which had my argument also is flawed ,

    Anyway if you don’t respect Hinduism , and that’s what you have learned (as claimed by urself ) about Ramayana or Mahabharata , so i see no point in debating here , u r just as hollow as could be expected ,

    Reply

    • In reply to Amit

      Since this is my blog and not a public forum, I decide the rules. Abuse whomsoever you want on your own space. Do it on my blog and I will ban you.

      So you claim the history books are flawed – and what is your alternative? Superstition? There may be many things wrong with history as it’s taught but it’s much better than following storybooks and calling it history!

      If you (or anyone else) can do a better job of writing history, then do so. If your work is good, it will be accepted. Or if you can’t write a history book, then write a book pointing out the flaws in current history books with proper references and research and you can change the way we think. But I doubt you can do that. You may have read on some Internet forum that “British history” is being taught and you believe it.

      Any evidence to back up your claims? And do you personally have any real evidence of a person called Ram who was god incarnate and could lift up a bow which 100 people could not lift? :D

      Reply

  7. i think if poonam pandey wants to strip let her do that,y we all paying so much of attention to her,let her those wanna enjoy let them enjoy those wanna ignore let thm ignore.for me it would be seeing a monkey showon road and then moving my own way.let her do and face the consequenses ,there are many more things to think about,dont give such girls so much of importance

    Reply

  8. I have only recently come to know about this Poonam Pandey through a casual discussion at work and i was intrigued! I did know that she offered to strip if India won the World Cup but I dismissed it as some stupid cheap woman trying some stupid cheap stunt, not worthy of so much as a second’s thought. But this discussion at work got my attention and I decided to look her up (which is how I also ended up on this blog).
    As I read through about this woman, I realised that she is a cartoon, a caricature of sorts. I agree with you, there is nothing wrong with stripping. But there are two issues which i see here –
    One is this woman’s assumption about men. That all men want is to j**k off to semi-naked women coz really, have evolved at all? Is this what men are really all about? Do they not have feelings? Do they not not want a deep sense companionship with a woman? Is a woman’s body all they think about? Looking at the number of hits she gets, one would say she is right. I say, wrong. Men (and women) need to address their need for sex, for which we all have a natural capacity. Unfortunately the lack of education and proper perspective on sex and sexual repression in our country, we fail to see sex for what is. Miss Pandey also turns it into a crass business of titillation, that works under the garb of ‘giving men what they want’. Who is she to assume what men want?

    The second issue is that of ‘sullying the image of women’. In a way, she does not do that coz Poonam Pandey does not represent the mass of women population. But what she does is actually more dangerous. She affirms the sexual objectification of women, which is bearing dire consequences on our society. Nudity is not wrong. The nude/ semi-nude sculptures of women from Konark or nudes painted by Rubens, Titian, Michelangelo are beautiful representations of a woman’s sexuality which do not make you cringe. But Miss Pandey does. She is crass and brazen in the way she offers her body for people to ‘enjoy’. My objection is to this dehumanising of the woman and turning her into an object for sexual gratification. It may not represent women as such but going by the present male mentality (of course, not generalising here) it does foster the image of a woman wearing western clothes (short, deep cuts, fitting etc.) as vile, indecent and well ‘wanting it’ or ‘asking for it’. As a media figure, Poonam Pandey can be a bit more responsible than just see how much mileage she can get from such stunts.

    Reply

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