The “My Choice” video of Deepika Padukone, has created waves of sensation in the media for the past few days. This short video clip of of two and a half minutes proclaims to be standing up for women's empowerment and their rights. Deepika, in this video, asserts her right to choose what she wants in her life. It speaks not just about Deepika but women in general. It starts like this: “My body, my mind, my Choice.” The video is concerned mainly with sexuality and the women's right to choose what she wants to do with her body.
Reaction to this video has not been one-sided. The opinion is divided, with some hailing it as a good move and others claiming it to be a farce. But it has stirred controversy for some of the statements made. Even a male version of this video came to fore, which slaps Deepika's “My Choice” video on face. If we assume that the male version is anti-women, then you are wrong. But before dwelving into any discussion, let us know which are the focal points of controversy.
“My choice, to have sex before marriage, to have sex outside the marriage.”
“My choice, to love temporarily, or to lust forever.”
“My choice to come home when I want. Don't be upset if I come home at 4 am. Don't be fooled if I come home at 6 pm.”
These three statements are interconnected in nature. The first statement here says that a woman has the right to have sex before marriage, or to have an extra-marital affair. Second statement says that she has the right to decide how long she will love or lust someone. And the third statement says that she has the right to come and go out of home at anytime without informing anyone or without giving any reason for it. Well, this much of bullets are enough to start a wordwar.
Freedom – Ideal and real
'My Choice' comes from the concept of freedom. I am an individual and a free person and I have the right over my body and mind. But what is freedom? Is it the ability to do what I want to do or what I 'feel' to do? Does freedom means liberation from obligations and constraints whatsoever? Yes, it is so in the case of ideal freedom. But reality is far from ideal. In real life, freedom comes with certain responsibilities, obligations and constraints. I can't choose whether to breathe or not; to survive I have to. To face the odds presented by nature, men must come together; they can't choose to remain aloof. A couple can choose to have a baby or not. But once they have a baby, they are responsible for its care; they can't choose to abandon the child. No freedom can ever be absolute, it is always relative. Doing what is necessary for the life, and society as a whole, to prosper is the highest degree of freedom one can enjoy. If Deepika's parents had chosen to abandon her when she was still a baby, no one knows where she would have ended up in her life. Similarly when we love someone, it is not right to leave him or her in the middle of nowhere, without any reason, stating that it is our choice. Because the other person is also a human being who live and die with feelings and emotions. If we do so, it is not love but lust.
To sum up: If we want to enjoy freedom, we have responsibilities to fulfill. Make your own choice, but choose responsibly.
Social & political rights are okay, but what about moral & ethical values?
We can't dispute that men and women are equal, there must be no discrimination based on gender. Women are entitled for all the social and political rights enjoyed by men. But here in the video, it means something more than that. It says that women has the right to do whatever men do. That is, if a man cheat, lie, have extra-marital affair, deny to have child, it immediately gives women the right to do the same! What the director has not understood here is, WRONG is WRONG, no matter who does it.
There is another statement in the video which I would like to mention in this context: “Your sins (are) my virtues.” Does that mean one can define his own virtues and sins according to his own beliefs? Are morality and ethics subjective? Does this mean there is no right or wrong but only interpretations? Most likely, this is what it means in this context. If this is the case, the asserted logic leads to disastorous conclusions. That is, whatever a person does, it is just an act and there is nothing right or wrong in it. If one can do something, then he has the right to do it. If a man rape a woman, there is nothing wrong in it because he doesn't consider it to be a sin. He choose to rape and hence he did! Well, this doesn't make this world a livable place.
We shall see this from another angle. Let us assume that they have meant to say in this video that 'I will choose what I think because it is my mind. I will choose to use my body as I wish. And no one shall interfere in what I think and what I do with my mind and body.' But we have a problem here. We live in a material world where effects follow the causes.
At somepoint of time in life, we fall ill. The disease might be life threatening. When we go to hospital, if a doctor say I choose whom I treat and at what time, why, it is the doctor's mind, doctor's body, doctor's choice! A person is having extra-marital affairs with many people, concealing the truth from his or her life partner, it is not unethical because it is his or her choice! Parents will choose to run out of relationship leaving the child in lurch, and that is also absolutely rightful because it is their body, their mind, their choice! Do you feel something is wrong here? Don't you?
Moreover, if you say it is my right to choose what I do with my body and mind, and it is wrong if someone try to impose on me what I don't like, still you have your own concept of morality, the concept of right and wrong. This morality is in perpetual contradiction because you are trying to impose this morality on your family, your friends, and your partner – “This is the morality I follow, and you should honour it and follow the same for yourself!” Isn't it so? If you say it is not about right or wrong but my choice, then whatever one person does in relation to another is also a choice, whether it is rape or a murder! When a person enters into a relation with another person, it is not just a mechanical relationship; It involves emotions. If we care a fig for these emotions and choose to walk out whenever we choose, then that means we are treating the other person as an object. You treat everyone else as objects which you can use and dispose whenever you want, then you are also nothing but an object for another person to use and dispose whenever he or she wants; this is the logic.
What is right and what is wrong?
If you feel that a doctor should attend the patient immediately, if you feel a person should not deceive his or her life partner, if you feel parents should not abandon their child, then you accept that life cannot prosper without moral and ethical values. Our choices must be based on morals and ethics. But how and who will decide rights and wrongs? It is we the people, as a society, who should decide. And morals must be decided based on whether it helps life to prosper, whether it helps society to progress.
Principles, morals and ethics are value systems which the human society has formed to regulate and maintain its cohesion and harmony. If we had none of them, then anyone can do anything he wants. Strong will suppress the weak, intelligence will deceive innocence. Evil will enslave the good. This will destroy the very roots of society. Hence men must be taught to love mankind. One must be taught to live a principled life. One must be taught to be ethical. Without teaching these things, how much ever one may cry for social and political rights, another will be there to trample those rights underfoot.
The video might have been created with good intention, but it certainly sends a wrong message to the society. It is true that women are being enslaved. It is true they have been tied by numerous social customs formed by this patriarchal society. To free themselves, women must organize themselves, not against men, but against oppression and injustice. Because wrong is wrong, no matter who says it or does it.
To end, I remember one of the Aristotle's sayings: “Educating the mind without educating the heart creates civilized barbarians.”