Many of you may have mechanically watched, liked, and shared the recent video uploaded of two young Indian women rapping about the normalcy of sexual assault in India. Going by the name BomBaebs, these women have come forward to address the many issues facing young girls in India on the streets, in their homes, and in their rural communities. Featuring theater artist Pankhuri Awasthi and TV Host Uppekha Jain, the clip has gone viral with over 300,000 views and counting, all the while leaving a wake of criticism on the hypocrisy of India’s community as depicted in the controversy of the recently banned BBC documentary India’s Daughter and the misogyny that taints the lives of its girls.
The responses to this video have been both overwhelmingly supportive and highly critical. Many applaud it for its realistic depiction of the mannerism in which a woman is treated in India, criticizing the contradictory yet dual nature of those who view rape as the fault of the victim whether she be covered or with another individual. And the lyrics themselves do a pretty good job at accurately depicting the situation:
We’re now known as the land of rapes.
But did you ever wonder how this took shape?
Don’t shy away now, you’re a part of this culture.
Of lawyers who will kill,
And politicians who ban our will,
And all the other blood-sucking vultures.
Many others laugh at the women, highlighting the blemishes in their appearances while asserting that “blaming doesn’t change anything” and that their attempts are no more than futile. Yet, this video to me only brings sadness and despair. The video strikes me as another hopeless attempt to bring awareness to an issue that will fade away in a few months time, soon to be replaced by another viral video or another fleeting hashtag.A sad reality of this video is that the majority of people do not share it for the mere message it conveys but for the image that it holds. It is clear that the video would not have received as much attention as it did if their faces were not painted and their beauty was not adjusted to suit contemporary style. There have been countless videos uploaded on both YouTube and Vimeo on the very issue of rape, yet this one in particular has caught everyone’s attention. It cannot be denied that these women are indeed very attractive. And with this appearance, the sad reality is that many viewers do not watch the video for its original intent, but because of these two girls. And don’t get me started on the very intention of these girls themselves. We can never be sure if their initial motives are pure in the hopes of truly leading the force of change or if they have personal interests in mind by seeking attention and fame through the instant YouTube celebrity status that comes along with it.
Whether or not their intentions were pure, one thing is clearly certain: Rape has and will always be prevalent in our society if we continue to just spread awareness without taking physical action for change. And for once we truly need the real depiction of how horrific rape and such misogynistic culture really is. With issues as important as these, our goal should be to spread the message for what it truly is and not through the discreet manipulation of beauty to appeal it to the public eye. With a topic as important as rape, it is imperative that the message be solely on the issue at hand without any distractions. There is no need to add glimmer to an issue that impedes upon the very future of the women in a country such as India.
MuslimGirl is all about badass rappers, but maybe the solution to the age-old problem of normalized misogyny and rape is not through conveying the message via overly used mediums and methods that follow the very trend we are trying to end. If these women had been two normal girls dressed in ethnic Indian clothing speaking a mix of broken English and Hindi (as many Indian women do), we bet this video wouldn’t have received the publicity we did. It’s time we give importance to an issue without the extra glitz and glamor — but simply for what it is.