Women, hypocrisy and liquor

As gyrating Kajol sangZara sa jhoom loon main,” in DDLJ, it got a discussion started at my home. Well, her skimpy red outfit was the starting point. My mother wondered how she would have performed (hinting at her skimpy clothes) as we saw flashes of snowy Switzerland when my mum was bundled in layers of winter clothing on her last trip to Jungfraujoch.

“Well, she would be drinking wine. All these actresses do that,” pat came the reply from a friend’s young cousin (not yet in his 20s). I got really curious now and could not resist my nose to get involved. “How do you know?”, I said.

He said, “They all smoke on screen at times so drinking must be normal.” My question remained the same. He looked clueless. I decided to give his brain some work — “The characters you see in movies are not real. These are being performed by actors. So we cannot claim to even know a thing about SRK or Kajol despite seeing DDLJ a thousand times.”

He still did not get it and said, “But they drink and smoke.” So I gave him an example of the Bollywood villains — the Prem Chopras, Gulshan Grovers, Ajits, Prans and even SRK. “Would you think they all raped women, killed people in reality?”

He rubbished all that saying, it is different. “All modern women tend to drink.” Now, I was about to lose it but was more surprised with a teenager saying this crap!

Modernity and liquor — a very strange combination for women in eyes of our society in case of men drinking liquor does not have anything to do with modernity. It’s as if illicit liquor/Hooch does not even exist in our world.

“Liquor is bad! It is evil and not good for your health.” Isn’t this heard a lot by us all. We not just see it on television but also in our homes. This is despite many see our fathers drinking at parties, at home, with friends. Why? Its part of a celebration? Or a habit in case of a few. We even have stories to share when our brothers/boy friends are left trashed with booze.

But then it is bad, right? Well, it is bad of course, but more for girls than for boys! Why? After all, our women and our girls are custodians of morality. They are the ones who need to keep the family together, pass on noble and moral upbringing to posterity. So how can they drink?

And if you may see around, the increasing trend of modern women picking liquor is being highlighted as a question mark on her morals. Why? Don’t urban men queuing every evening at thekas/liquor shop in neighbourhoods have any moral responsibility? Well, not in our society.

A survey of traditional liquor outlets by AZ Research Partners, a marketing consultancy firm, revealed that female buyers were literally non-existent. Not surprising, since at non-department liquor outlets women are at risk of being stared down and teased. With the advent of branded liquor retail stores and dedicated liquor counters at supermarkets, the number of women buyers has increased to 10-12%, over the past few years.

To point out, this  increase of 12% is still below the annual increase in liquor consumption of Andhra Pradesh which is close to 20-22%.

And these surveys don’t point out how it is tough for women to go drinking alone, especially in Delhi. You are better off going on women-only nights are reputed pubs lest risk stares and ugly sexist comments.

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