Mar 8, 2014

Who will you really listen to, men?

During the course of this WriteTribe Festival of Words, I've already spoken about two women ( here and here ) who inspired me with their deeds. So now, when the topic is Women and it's Women's Day, it's kind of ironical that I choose to talk about a bunch of men, instead.

I personally don't believe in the logic of advertising agencies that roping in a big celebrity helps sell a product (eg: Abhishek Bachchan selling me Prestige cookers and Sunny Deol selling me underwear comes to mind.)
But then, I don't know everything. I may very well be wrong. If that is true and having a big celebrity tell you to do things works for you, then I would like you to listen to why women are and should always be considered as equals, not from my mouth but from some people more famous than me.


You know him as the geeky Ross Geller from the sitcom F*R*I*E*N*D*S*. This 'dinosaur doctor' was easily the dorkiest of the three men on the show. But did you know that in real life, David Schwimmer is the Director of a Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica? That he used to frequently appear in ads aimed specifically at men, telling them it was not okay to be silent if you are witnessing a rape/drugging of a drink with intention to rape and imploring them to intercede? Or that he used to actively campaign to have 'date rape drugs' banned in the USA? Still think he's a dork?



Womens Day

Don't like geeks preaching to you?
How about assertive people then ? How about celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay? That guy busts balls and makes grown men cry with his caustic comments on their culinary skills.
He's also an ambassador for the charity 'Women's Aid' aiming to end domestic violence. Having watched his dad abuse his mom over and over, this is what he had to say - “The reason she seemed so weak was because she was defending our arses. You have to admire the loyalty of a woman who puts her children first. And that’s where I get my determination from. From her.."

Is he too rough for you? How about soft-spoken country crooner Keith Urban ( dare-I-say Mr Nicole Kidman? ) who took the 'White Ribbon' oath, the aim of which is to make men more pro-active in stopping crimes against women.

Want someone rich to tell you this? How about multi billionaire Richard Branson who took part in the 'Ring the Bell' campaign? In it, he narrates an incident where he was at a clinic in Africa and asked the 40 odd women there if anyone had ever been raped... the women laughed at his naivety. All the women there had been raped atleast once, he found out. They were resigned to their fate.



But then these rich people will say anything, right? How about somebody with class?
In my childhood, I knew him as the awesome captain of the Starship Enterprise (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Kids of this millennium know him as the wheelchair bound Professor Xavier (The X-Men Movies). Do you know he's still an active speaker for Amnesty International's "Stop Violence Against Women" campaign?
I wish that you see this video. A victim of domestic abuse asks him what he is most proud of besides his acting career. His answer takes a very serious turn as he relives moments from his childhood when he was too small to stop his father (suffering from undiagnosed PTSD) from physically abusing his mother. That probably played a major role in him becoming a patron of Refuge, a charity that provides safe accommodation for women and children in need.  




Watch his voice start to crack as he recalls how doctors and policemen tried to tell his mother that she must have been partly responsible for her own beatings. "WRONG! WRONG! My mother did nothing to provoke that, and even if she had, violence is never ever a choice that a man should make," Stewart shouts, still haunted by the memory from half a century ago. He then just jumps off the stage and goes and hugs the abuse victim. She recalls later "He told me 'You never have to go through that again, you're safe now.'

Let me guess. You don't like listening to old bald men because they aren't cool? I should really flick your ears for even suggesting for a moment that Patrick Stewart ain't cool but fine, will you accept James Bond then?
And not just one, but two Bonds?? Having watched his mother raise him with the stigma of being a single mother back in the 50's in Ireland, Pierce Brosnan has always been an active campaigner for equal rights for women. Daniel Craig of course, chose not to say a single word in this strong campaign for Women's Rights. He's even dressed as Bond in the ad as Dame Judi Dench (Madam M) narrates... for awhile at least.

James Bond not macho enough for you? Will you accept the Incredible Hulk then? Traumatised by the story of his mother being forced to undergo an illegal abortion when he was a small child, actor Mark Ruffalo now actively campaigns for women's rights of their own bodies.  "It was a time when women were seen as second rate citizens who were not smart enough, nor responsible enough, nor capable enough to make decisions about their lives. It was a time that deserved to be left behind, and leave it behind we did, or so it seemed... (full text here)"
While the topic of abortion will remain controversial, the right of a woman to 'be the master of her body and life' is non-negotiable.

Alan Alda is of course, my fav comedian of all time. Considered 'the Honorary Woman' for his tireless campaigning for Women's rights, he's always been involved with Equal Rights Amendment.

Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm, Matt Damon, Joseph Gordon Lewitt, Jamie Foxx, Ashton Kutcher, Obama, Ian Somelhalder, Joss Whedon, Dalai Lama. All these men have spoken about equal rights for women , stopping violence against them and preventing assaults.

Just so you know... that is a list that includes the Head of the X-Men/ the Captain of the Starship Enterprise (the world's most awesome spaceship), Two James Bonds, one Jason Bourne, the Incredible Hulk, a guy who won 6 Emmys and 6 Golden Globes, two people knighted by the United Kingdom, the President of the United States, a living Buddhist God figure, Robin (from Nolan's Batman movies), hunks from Mad Men and Vampire Diaries, Oscar Winners, one of the most handsome actors and the world's most famous celeb chef among others.

So my question to you now is... what more or who else will it take for this message - Treat Women with Respect - to finally trickle down to your heads?


51 comments:

  1. I think that's the most unique way anyone ever tried to pass the message about women's day on..
    And what a way!!!
    Salute Doc!

    But the question still remains a question -
    How many more?
    Who else?

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    1. Thanks.. I wanted to see it from a different point of view. And yes. That's the question I too ask.. How many more celebs

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  2. Fab post! This message need to go out to all the men...loud and clear. Sharing.

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    1. Thanks.. I do hope more people ser it from this perspective

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  3. A very interesting post, Roshan. But will the celebrities mentioned here make any kind of impact on the majority of Indians who probably don't recognize them? I think our own home grown male celebrities need to take a hint here.

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    1. That's the sad fact.. Our celebs need to be paid for this. These people talk from their own bad experiences. Even here, our politicians are scared of alienating their voter base n so allow patriarchal mindsets to rule n have their way with women.

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  4. This is so profound....Instead of women speaking about women's empowerment and related stuff, you've given us the message from a very dynamic perspective...... Thanks Doc ! Love this piece, sharing :)

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    1. That's just what I wanted to do. Showcase the men who make d effort.. Many have watched their loved ones suffer abuse n let that motivate them

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  5. I love the White Ribbon movement because it's men telling other men to start taking responsibility and standing up against violence against women. And I so didn't know that about Ross...he totally goes up in my estimation now! :D

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    1. The actor playing Ross is actually one of the most educated of the lot.. Very vocal against violence against women.

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  6. Fab post Roshan ! I didnt know about many of them :)

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  7. Whoa Dok, look whatte post you have conjured with all those smart men and all. And another smart one puts together all these acts of solidarity for women. Loved the eclectic list of men and their ways to speak up for women worldwide!

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    1. Exactly.. This group alone considers the big 3.. America, UK n Australia. Now the question is who do u remember in India for the same?

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  8. Superb post..wish we had more of Indian celebrities supporting such causes..hopefully that will happen soon..

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    1. Exactly.. Why are our own celebs so indifferent to everything?

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  9. A very different take on the topic. When we can listen to celebrities for everything else, why not this?

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    1. Yes. If having them in ads sells biscuits n shampoos, why so much of a barrier to take on a topic like equal rights

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  10. And we offer tribute to great men like these who have made women's lives easier. Wonderful!

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  11. Impressive, interesting and uniquely written.

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  12. Good to know about these men working for the cause of women, din't know about many of them. Wish we had some Indian celebrity men working for such causes, that would convey stronger message in our country. Thanks to all these men- special thanks to the man who is spreading a good message through this wonderful post :) Respect :)

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    1. You mean the super hunk :) the guy with Hrithik Roshans body, Amir Khan intensity, Salman charisma.. That Roshan na :)

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    2. Yah, u got it right, i mean that super hunk RR only ;)

      Hey, u missed mentioning intellectual ability... he is second to none in that :D

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  13. Indian male celebrities wake up , reach , endorse and practice.
    A well scripted post where the men speak of empowerment.smile

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    1. I guess in India, we have a tendency not to discuss what goes on within closed doors even if it is physical abuse to the mother. That's why you don't have Indian versions of this.. No stories to tell

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  14. What else had been better on this Woman's day than this lovely tribute of 'men speaking for women.' It's the duty of both the parents to educate their sons and daughters to respect and support the other sex...Thanks for the lovely post...

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    1. I agree. In the end, the kids note what goes on at home n learn from there..

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  15. Quite different but a superb post!

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  16. A fantastic post, Roshan for this special day! I was not aware of so many celebrities supporting and working for such important causes! Kudos to all of them!

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    1. I too was not aware of some of them.. The more I hunted, the more favourites I found..

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  17. I absolutely loved how you have put this across.......!!!!! Amazingly well written.....
    Vidya

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    1. Thanks Vidya.. Glad you liked it

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  18. Did you forget SRK and his Lux Cozi? :D
    Well true what you wrote but you and me will not live to see the day women are actually treated with respect and they walk free on the roads at 8:00 pm .
    I love Ross Geller more after reading this. I loved him even in FRIENDS. There should be more men like him.

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    1. Sigh.. Sadly I don't see women's freedom getting better any time soon either..
      And yes, David's efforts are very laudable.. His reason behind it is tragic too but hes doing something about it.

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  19. Loved that speech... His passion was so tangible. Wish more of our celebs felt strongly about such causes. Not that being endorsed by a celeb should mean much. It's the attitude nurtured since childhood and what a child sees and observes that decides whether he will respect women or not. So I guess it boils down to parents and the society (which is such an amorphous thing), so basically parents - for the dad to respect the mum and the mum to not allow herself to be disrespected at least as a start... And that's too long to be comment, it's a post. :-).

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    1. I agree. I really don't see d need for celebs to sell an idea especially when it's something as basic as the rights of 50% of the population

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  20. I feel..message should reach out to each men , women and also children... coz we do hear saas-bahu fights and also how children at times feel derogatory about their mum's not educated... or whatever... I feel its a contribution to each and every person in this world

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    1. it is a basic concept... i dont know how we've lost the message so badly in the name of culture.

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  21. Superb post Roshan.. breaks my heart to think most of these successful men who people envy today , actually had a rough past ....

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    1. Thanks Cee.. there have been some very rough pasts amongst those actors... quite unlike many of our own celebs who have lived the princely life and just arrived on to the stage as a second generation superstar, these people have seen poverty, abuse and broken homes their entire lives.

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    2. grrr.. dont remind me .. srk n his fair n handsome ads.. closer to home ,mamooty and his indulekha fairness ad.. really??? does he need this? they can influence millions of people by doing something for a good cause.. n instead they humiliate themselves like this...

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  22. It's a brilliant post Roshan and unique way to raise awareness for equal rights. I feel more celebs should team up for such a cause, AB, SRK, Salman, Hrithik and Abhishek since they are regarded as figures. The Polio campaign is such a brilliant example and why not for equal rights and treating women with respect. Many men had a not so glorious past and thanks for this eye-opener.

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    1. Thanks Vishal. I agree. Our stars are doing surprisingly less... there needs to be more active campaigns for this, instead of just waiting for an heinous act and then giving a two second sound byte to a reporter...

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  23. Fabulous post, Roshan. All these men you have mentioned are raising awareness and creating a safer environment for women but still many aren't listening. Hope they start soon, they will someday...

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    1. As someone above mentioned, one excuse for Indians would be that these are not celebs for us... but that raises the question, why are our own celebs not more actively involved..

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So what do you think ?