Here are my tweets that started it all:
1. Nilanjana Roy’s lesbian fantasies about Shurpanakha: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/nilanjana-s-roywoman-alone-inforest/498048/ …. Nothing new. She’s the latest fantasizing kid on the block.
2. A woman who lusts after another woman’s husband is the role model of several urban Indian women today. Latest exhibit: Nilanjana Roy.
3. I know for a fact that Nilanjana Roy is married. How’d SHE feel if a Shurpanakha type today wanted to sleep with Nilanjana’s husband?
4. BTW is Nilanjana Roy on Twitter?
I deleted all these tweets subsequently. Were these tweets rude and offensive? Most certainly they were. In about 13 years of blogging, I’ve consciously made it a point to not say a word justifying what I write here. People are free to read what I write here and come to their own conclusions about my writing and about me as a person. But I’m breaking this rule only in this instance.
I’ll say this a million times: It did not give me any happiness to put out those tweets. And given how I highly regard women, I felt sad that I had to resort to tweeting this kind of stuff about a woman. Yet I did it consciously.
A few tweets about Nilanjana Roy, and a lot of fury erupted on Twitter and here in my comments section, and this is the kind of outrage that occurs when insulting things are said about a person. Yet why shouldn’t we be outraged, why shouldn’t millions be outraged, when a woman writes a piece that’s based on factual errors, falsification, and selective reading about women that these selfsame millions regard as role models? What exactly gives Nilanjana Roy the right to insult the icons and role models of other people based on her worldview of how women should be? And why should she be upset when I did the same thing that she did by giving a misleading interpretation of those five women? If Nilanjana Roy for example, calls Surpanakha a wronged woman based on convenient and/or selective readings, I can in the same manner, characterize her piece as a lesbian fantasy. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for gander.
If Nilanjana Roy defends this by calling Surpanakha a fictional character, here’s what occurs: why trace the cause for the Delhi rape to a fictional woman? If Surpanakha was a fictional character, Nilanjana should’ve analyzed her using literary parameters. And if Nilanjana believes that Surpanakha was a real woman, then my case for characterizing her piece as a lesbian fantasy only becomes stronger—simply because she has relied on a falsified version of Surpanakha, the real woman, and I just showed Nilanjana the mirror. Sorry, Nilanjana Roy, you cannot have it both ways.
The other charge against me was that I “asked questions about [Nilanjana’s] marriage and [her] husband” and that I “haven’t had the courage to repeat these insults here, in this piece.” As for the courage bit, I’ve reproduced everything above, in this post. As for the marriage and husband bit, let me repeat my tweet here:
I know for a fact that Nilanjana Roy is married. How’d SHE feel if a Shurpanakha type today wanted to sleep with Nilanjana’s husband?
Given all the facts about Surpanakha’s story (in my previous post), I believe this is a fair question to ask Nilanjana and everybody who embarks on a quest to deliver “justice” to Surpanakha. Here’s my last word, the last word derived from the last sentence of her piece where she says:
if you hurt the wrong woman, prepare for war.
Incorrect Nilanjana, it’s not just the woman. In my world, it’s any woman. If you hurt—if any man or any woman hurts any man or woman unjustly, that wrong should be righted even if it means war. That includes anybody unjustly hurting even you, Nilanjana. Like I said earlier, I don’t need to be a feminist to say this. And honestly, when you claim that I have “extreme discomfort with any kind of feminist critique of the great epics,” I can only laugh. I do have extreme discomfort with a dishonest critique whether it is feminine or Leftist or Liberal or whatever other kind.
I honestly have no use for any isms that feed the ego. Be it individualism or the kind of feminism Nilanjana Roy espouses. The ego-feeding is one main reason such isms find immense appeal. And there’s no dearth of logical reasoning that can justify it. Yet, it is this that makes people blind to even the most obvious acts of injustice, which they try to defend using even falsification and bias as valid forms of defence. Of what use then is Nilanjana Roy’s feminism, in this case?
If I’m a feminist in Nilanjana’s mould, I lose sight of all the men who stood by and even lost their lives protecting the women who were wronged. I lose sight of the ultimate plight of all those men who hurt these women. I lose sight of the final fate of a Ravana who could’ve remained happy ruling over a vast and prosperous kingdom, enjoying the best in life. I lose sight of the fate of a Keechaka who was pounded to death. I lose sight of the bloody end of a Dusshyasana who had his intestines ripped out. I lose sight of the sorry plight of Duryodhana who lost everything he had and lay dying with his thighs broken. All these were men who were otherwise good to their subjects, who took wise decisions but whose only fault was to lust after a married woman. And it was other men who taught their own brethren this much-needed lesson. If Nilanjana wants to argue that it’s okay for happily married women to succumb to the lust of other men, I have nothing further to say.
Perhaps there’s yet another side to this. Of all the great epics of the world, only the Ramayana and the Mahabharata continue to influence and shape the lives, values, and beliefs of the Indian people. The two epics are perhaps the greatest forces that unite the Indian people culturally, spiritually, and socially. And this fact is unique only to India. There is almost no direct relation to the life and culture of the Greece and Italy of today to the epics produced by their respective countries. If we observe the so-called critiques of the Indian epics in the early days by the Left, the underlying strain was to deride and destroy their appeal because that was one of the significant ways in which they could realize their pet project of a Red World in India. I wouldn’t accuse Nilanjana Roy of this in the absence of enough evidence, but I’d certainly say that her piece assumes such agenda-based critiques to be valid and builds on them. In this respect, Nilanjana Roy’s piece is no different from Sanjay Srivastava’s ill-informed rant about Swami Vivekananda in the Hindu.
In the end, there’s a simpler explanation for rape: the sick minds of a few men. Sad that Nilanjana Roy had to embark on an 830-word expedition of epic falsification to seek and yet not find this commonsense answer.