The Hardik Pandya-KL Rahul sexist comment fiasco in a way perfectly encapsulates the death of the age of reason.
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert has often argued that we are a civilisation of six billion ninnies powered by a few exceptional savants, and every day the way the denizens of the internet react to things bears testimony to this universal statement.
In the age of #MeToo – a movement that has hit back at years of oppression backed by structural complicity and negligence – Pandya’s comments come across as crass but the accompanying fury and the quantum of punishment that people are demanding suggests that we’ve all lost our proverbial marbles.
While Pandya and Rahul were unceremoniously hauled back from tour, there’s talk they might even miss out on being selected for the World Cup which is going to be held in four months, Pandya has lost his Gillette sponsorship and also – and to be fair we don’t know how to react to this – his honorary Khar Gymkhana membership.
There are calls for him never to pull on the India shirt again, others are demanding that his IPL contract be torn up and some of the comments indicate that even the deepest rung of hell would be too good for Pandya.
What did Pandya say exactly?
So, let’s really examine what Pandya said. He said he likes to watch women at nightclubs (because according to him, he’s from the black side). He said he likes to see them move, that he bragged to his parents when he lost his virginity.
Did he objectify women? Yes. Is it a crime to objectify women? Nope but it has been used to sell everything from soap to diabetes-inducing soft drinks.
Are these comments stupid and crass? Sure.
Should he have held his tongue rather acting like a bull in china shop? Probably.
Did a clever TV host con him into thinking it’s a safe space? Yes.
Are they criminal? No.
Has Pandya ever breached consent? Not as far as it has been revealed.
If a cheerleader wants to sleep with Hardik Pandya, and if Hardik Pandya likes casual sex, that’s their business.
The censuring from so-called liberals is quite surreal and mirrors the horror that their ideological opponents used to have for casual sex.
Yet, the man who grew up in Vadodara and might not be up-to-date on the latest social studies on intersectionality has been accused of racism, sexism and misogyny.
For god’s sake, if he feels a bit Caribbean, that doesn’t make it cultural appropriation. I live in Navi Mumbai but just because I give Wakanda Forever salutes to black people doesn’t mean I am appropriating their culture. It’s just a universal acceptance of a cultural meme which transcends space, race and time barriers. It’s perfectly natural to appreciate some aspects of a culture without being accused of racism.
In fact, I haven't come across a single black person accusing Pandya of appropriation, simply desis who feel they need to be angry on behalf of black people.
Pandya isn’t the first man to express such thoughts, and even a young Virat Kohli never shied away from admitting he stood up a date because she was ugly.
Pandya-Rahul have become the latest pawns in the tug of war at the BCCI, whose own CEO’s sexual harassment allegations were brushed aside – with due process – faster than a tracer bullet.
Meanwhile, Diana Edulji is worried there’ll be a cover-up.Thankfully CoA chief Vinod Rai, who will never be invited to any parties at Congress households thanks to the Rs 1.76 lakh crore notional loss figure for the 2G scam, has promised to show some sense of proportion.
In a mail to Diana Edulji, Vinod Rai writes that it was their responsibility to reprimand, sensitise and get them back on the ground once they have suffered the consequences.
He wrote: “We have shamed them by recalling them from an ongoing tour. We have suspended them from further games. We need to correct them and not bring their career to a cul-de-sac by indefinitely delaying a decision. These misdemeanours require swift action, with a corrective approach.”
While the urge to set an example is understandable, society’s long march towards equality can’t be created by stiffling voices or by coercion. The quantum of punishment that has been suggested is wildly disproprtionate to his misdemeanours.
We will not be able to teach young men consent through coercion. What will sadly happen is Pandya will become an MRA icon, a hero crucified for speaking his mind.
What Pandya needs is re-education, not exile. Slamming anyone whose worldview you don’t agree with is the way you create Trumps. Sadly, liberals are behaving like conservative Catholics who think casual sex is the devil's work.