Sushant Singh Rajput case: Rhea Chakraborty’s media trial reinforces misogyny

Media trial of Rhea is a new low that we have reached as a society. Have you ever wondered why only women are judged by their clothes, suspected of black magic and trapping the ‘innocent’ boy?

Actress Rhea Chakraborty (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Actress Rhea Chakraborty (Photo Courtesy: IANS)

Smita Singh

The day I read what Vikas Singh, late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s family lawyer had said was the day I thought enough was enough. In a video message Rhea Chakraborty, the late actor’s girlfriend had appealed to people to support her as she was innocent and did not abet the late actor in his decision to die by suicide. The lawyer had said, “Rhea coming in the video is not much of what she is saying but how she is looking. I don’t think she would have worn that kind of a salwar suit ever in her life. This was to show herself as a simple woman”. I was appalled. I took to social media to vent my views. And I was trolled, surprisingly, not by men but women.

On June 14, Rajput was found dead at his apartment in Mumbai. Soon after, the late actor’s family alleged that Chakraborty had abetted his alleged suicide and registered a case against her in Patna on July 28.

The media trial of Rhea Chakraborty is a new low that we have reached as a society. I kept quite when she was accused of performing ‘black magic’ on the late actor. She was even called a gold digger. But the comment on her attire was the point where my patience wore off.

Let me make this clear from the beginning itself. I am not supporting her, if she is guilty she should be punished as per law. Also, the case is being investigated into, so we should wait for it to be over. What I want to highlight here is whether the treatment being given to Rhea Chakraborty is because she is a woman.

Woman the vamp

We are good at character assassination, isn’t it? It is the best way to shut down a woman. I believe women in the country should be deeply worried with the course the case has taken. Let me explain why. This case has demonised a woman. The trope that family is always right, more so when it concerns a man and that the problem, if any, lies with the woman in his life has been followed from time immemorial. The ‘wife’ in this case the ‘girlfriend’, which is even worse, will remain an outsider till the end. She cannot and will not think about her man’s welfare or his family’s has been drilled into us. After all blood ties are thicker and are treated as the ‘holy cow’.

How do we know that ‘the girlfriend’ did not care deeply for the late actor or the actor did not depend on her for all his needs? Can we ascertain the fact that she kept him away from his family, as is being alleged? Did he leave behind any clues to suggest this?

Clothes and the woman

Well, we’ve been there haven’t we, don’t we ask for ‘it’ though the clothes we wear? ‘It’ being the treatment meted out, it could be eve-teasing, rape or even murder. Remember the viral video not long ago from a Gurugram mall, when an elderly woman asked the men around to rape a young woman for wearing a short dress? Damn if she does, damn if she doesn’t. It is perceived, as by the lawyer, if a woman wears a regular salwar suit then she's trying to act innocent and is hiding something, if she wears western clothes then she’ll be declared a woman of loose character or even a criminal. My question is - why do women have to go through personal slander even before the judicial system pronounces its verdict?

Black magic woman

Actor Kangana Ranaut alleges that the late actor died because of nepotism and so is leading the debate against it and has wrapped Chakraborty into its fold too. Surprisingly, I also remember she was a victim in the issue between Adhyayan Suman and her, when Suman claimed that his ex-girlfriend - Kangana Ranaut had allegedly performed black magic on him. Have you ever come across a case in recent history where a man has been accused of performing black magic on his woman?

Rhea was accused of performing jaadu tona, for Bengali women are known for this, we were told. Well, Bengali women have spoken for themselves and I want to leave it at that. I am more than compelled to accept that our media is misogynist in its core, otherwise why didn’t it think twice before accusing her of black magic?

Why is a woman accused of it is not a mystery. Our society has given woman a mould to fit into; women should have babies, raise children, manage household life and accept subservience to their husbands. So, when women step outside their prescribed roles, they become targets. Too much wealth might reflect sinful gain. Too little money demonstrates bad character. It is generally believed that women are easily tempted hence can resort to any means to gain whatever they are tempted by. And successful, handsome men are their first target, whom they should control by all means.

Women the gold diggers

The day a boy is born in this country he becomes ‘gold’, someone who can be mined whenever needed. And girls can never match up, they will remain gold diggers even if they manage to erect an empire. Chakraborty may not have been as successful as the late actor, she was just starting out, but that’s beside the point. She is accused of living a luxurious life at the expense of Rajput and not just her but her whole family. Just because she had a successful and good looking boyfriend, her own hard work has been thrown out of the window!

Also, the thought that our boys are so gullible and innocent that they don’t understand the tricks women play to control them can make one sick.

Food for thought

I cannot but think of late actor Jiah Khan at this point. She died by suicide too but I don't remember her boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi being hounded like this after her demise. I don’t remember what he was wearing too when he pleaded not-guilty. Is it because he is a man that he could get away with it? I remember Khan’s mother crying hoarse that her daughter did not die by suicide, why didn’t we believe her and ask for further investigation?

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of the late actor, he was an outstanding performer. I do not know what caused him to take his own life. I also do not know what the final outcome of this case will be, but sadly I have come to the conclusion that we may say we have become modern but the truth is, when it comes to treatment of women we have not been able to shed our misogyny in the guise of patriarchy. An equitable society is a long way off for sure. Till then women like Rhea Chakraborty will pay the price for being, well, women!

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