When you rally behind Khan when he has erred time and time again, you're reaffirming that the rich and influential can get away with anything.
When you rally behind Khan when he has erred time and time again, you're reaffirming that the rich and influential can get away with anything.

Amid the uproar on Twitter over Salman Khan's insensitive rape-related remark, an alarming number of voices have emerged in defense of the actor.

This isn't a first. Salman is the drunk driver who ran over four people, killing one, and fled the scene. Yet his friends in Bollywood chose to blame people sleeping on the road rather than his own recklessness.

It's time for us to change the conversation about Bhai; it's time to show him the mirror and perhaps, take a long, hard look at ourselves as well while we're at it.

Stop enabling misogyny by giving it an audience

I'm aware that Salman realised he had made a faux pas almost immediately. His "when I used to walk out of the ring after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman. I couldn’t walk straight," comment was followed by a sheepish "I don't think I should have...", but not before it shed light on how we use everyday language to trivialise rape, not to mention how blind hero worshipping has chucked rational thinking out the window, but more on that later.


Want to know what's worse? That a bunch of reporters in the room laughed like it was a joke.


Let's just clarify that he wasn't making a joke. He made an analogy about his physical condition, equating it with the effects of rape on a victim's body. In doing so, he made an assumption about what a victim goes through when/after she has been raped, undermining and trivialising her suffering.

No, it's not okay to say "what kind of rape was that?" after you leave the examination hall (I've heard it myself), or "man, I just raped you in Fifa", like it's an accomplishment. It's not okay when you say it to your group of friends and it sure isn't okay when Salman says it in a press conference where he has more reach than the average Joe.

You see, language is key. When you encourage a tone that takes away from the enormity of sexual assault, it starts to snowball and perpetuate a culture that disregards the safety and well-being of women.

This is doubly true when a cherished figure like Salman does it. He can not escape the responsibility he has to the public at large; it comes with the territory.

Read this letter penned by the Stanford survivor Mr Khan and then tell me: did you really feel all that, violated and helpless to name a few emotions, when you wrapped up shooting a scene for your next macho man movie, a project that'll surely earn you ample praise, coupled with a hefty paycheck?

'But Sallu Bhai can do no wrong'

If there's one thing the 51-year-old has going for him, it's his savvy PR team. They've got everyone just lapping up his highly-advertised ‘Being Human’ image.

He's a member of society who gives back but does that automatically absolve him of all criticism and give him a lifetime hall pass for involuntary manslaughter and mansplaining misogyny?

No one is discrediting the good work he does but he must be held accountable for his wrongdoings.
No one is discrediting the good work he does but he must be held accountable for his wrongdoings.

When you rally behind Khan when he has erred time and time again, you're reaffirming that the rich and influential can get away with anything. We swept his total disregard of endangered wildlife under the rug, like we did his harassment of former Miss World Aishwarya Rai after their breakup and his bullying of singer Arijit Singh.

When you rise in clamour to defend this man, know that you're lending your support to the guy who subtly threatened a journalist into killing a story about him, a repeat offender who has a history of using his grip on the industry to intimidate women and men alike and has never faced any consequences for his actions.

Salman is the 51-year-old version of the school yard bully who gets his way by hook or by crook
Salman is the 51-year-old version of the school yard bully who gets his way by hook or by crook

Throw in his complete lack of remorse, his deafening silence rather than an apology and you've really got to be delusional not to call a spade a spade.

But hey, on the bright side, things might just be looking up. He did say in a press conference yesterday that he should talk less; here's hoping he takes his own advice.

We have to take the blindfold off at some point. We have to stop being apologists for celebrities and admit that being Salman isn't the same as being human. Far from it, actually.

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