Hero Sharath Kumar daughter and Kolyywood actress Varalaxmi has opened up about the disrespect she has received because of being a woman in the film industry. Varalaxmi Sarathkumar has posted on her social media page about a cheap incident that took place when she attended a meeting with a popular TV channel’s programming head.
”Writing this after spending 2 days debating whether or not to do so. In today’s world of social media, even genuine words spoken are judged unfairly and I did not want that to happen. In the end, I strongly felt it necessary to share this incident.
I was in a meeting with the programming head of a leading TV channel. Towards the end of the half hour meeting, he asked me “so… When can we meet outside?” to which I replied “regarding some other work?” His answer (said with a smug smile like it was the norm) “no no! Not work… For other things”. I hide my shock and anger and tell him “Sorry! Please leave.” His last word on the topic was “So… That’s all?” and he smiled and walked away.
A common reaction from people, both in the industry and outside when they hear things like this is to say “Film industry is like this. You knew so when you joined. Why complain now or act surprised?” My response is this. I didn’t come to the industry to be treated like a piece of meat or to follow the standards of exploitation of women already practiced. I love acting. It’s my profession of choice. I work hard and I’m good at my work. I certainly do not want to choose either option of ‘Put up with it or quit’.
As a woman I now see only one choice. To resist and to speak out. The important choices have to presented to the men. ‘Either stop disrespecting women or GET OUT!’
I am an actress. It does not mean that just because I lead a glamorous life on screen, that I deserve to be spoken with disrespect. It’s my life, my body and my wish. No man should assume he can get away with disrespecting me. Those who believe this is a minor incident and also that nothing happened in the end so it’s unnecessary should understand that this is the tip of the iceberg.And for those of you asking about the identity of the man, this is not the place and time for it as it will deviate from the bigger issue at hand. It may be a small incident that fortunately ended safely for me but it helps me to shed light on a very important topic.
Instead of lecturing women on what to wear, how to speak, and how to behave appropriately, how about we start by telling men to stop thinking with their genitals, and start looking at a woman as strong, free, capable and equal human being. Teach the men to be better people. Every parent needs to start this at home.
Its not just the film industry, I know that harassment against women happens across industries, economic strata, cultures and age. It is an issue that is inbred in our male dominated society where women are objectified and treated as less than equal – a commodity that can be dealt with as they please.
The incidents of rape, molestation, manhandling and disrespect to women are rising at alarming rates. Our education is failing us. I am not a victim and I don’t intend to play one. I am speaking out on behalf of all the girls who are not speaking out due to fear. Fear of men and fear that they will be punished as women for speaking out.
If we don’t act now #SafetyForWomen will be just a dream and we will never remove the word #rape from our society.
I will not stay silent. I urge all my sisters and friends to do the same. You are not alone. #BeSafe #BeBrave #BEaWOMAN”