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nationalism and the ownership of women April 29, 2007

Posted by sindhub in big brother, controversy, in the news, india, janet jackson, justin timberlake, nationalism, richard gere, shilpa shetty, superbowl incident.
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Our class discussion about nationalism and women’s role in it as mothers who continue their people’s bloodlines, and therefore need to be protected, seems particularly in light of a recent controversy: Richard Gere kisses Shilpa Shetty

Shilpa Shetty is a popular Indian actress who most recently made headlines for being a contestant on the UK version of Big Brother and being the target of racist namecalling by one of her housemates.  Last week, Richard Gere kissed her at an HIV awareness event, which caused a big hullaballoo among the right wing in India, who claimed that it not only offended their sensibilities, but that it was also an affront to India as a nation.  They burned effigies of Gere and criticized Shetty (who laughed the whole thing off), and recently a local court called for Gere’s arrest, prompting him to apologize…

So yeah, I thought the whole idea of women needing to be protected–not just their physical well-being, but their ‘honor’ and ‘reputation’–for the sake of a nation’s pride, was particularly relevant in this instance.  I also think it’s interesting that the nation will turn against the woman (the ‘blame the victim’ mentality), and not just the other side’s man.  What I find bothersome about the whole thing is that Shetty was completely unaware that Gere was going to get as physically affectionate with her as he did (the whole thing is just really awkward to watch).  It sort of reminds me of the Superbowl incident with Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson and her nipple; everyone was outraged by her nipple, but no one was bothered by Timberlake basically ripping her shirt apart.

The video of Gere & Shetty is behind the cut:

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