Utsav Chakraborty and I travelled together for gigs and featured on several comedy line-ups together. Ive known him for over a year now since I first took to stand-up in February 2017 and like most open-micers at the time, I admired his comic timing and quirky stage presence. Then, this past Thursday at 12.44 pm, aÂ tweet threadÂ with multiple allegations ofÂ sexual harassmentÂ broke out against Chakraborty. Through the rest of the day, several accounts of Chakrabortys perverse behaviour with women some of them minors began to pour in.
This was followed by a self-serving apology, which seemed like an attempt to justify his behaviour. But within those few hours, the floodgates opened, as allegations that run the spectrum ofÂ toxic male behaviourÂ from soliciting nudes and sending dick pics to being rapists came tumbling out of the closets theyve been in for years. Chakraborty had inadvertently become the poster boy of the dirty, dark side of social medias so-called woke brigade ironically, on the very platform that helped him build his brand.
But even before Chakraborty, there was Shamir Reuben.
Mumbais performing arts community nearly had itsÂ #MeTooÂ moment earlier this year, in February. Like many of Reubens peers, I also respected him as a performer, until he was outed on social media as a predator who sent unsolicited sexts to women. In the comment thread ofÂ the post that called Rueben out, multiple women, many of whom were minors when they met Shamir, courageously spoke out against his lewd, problematic behaviour both online and offline. Some 65 screenshots detailing the level ofÂ Shamirs perversionsÂ were brought to light. Shamir issued a well-worded apology and nobody has heard of or from him since.
Over the last weekend, a number of men who spoke the right language were equipped with the right vocabulary to express the right kind of views on liberal issues wereÂ named as perpetrators.Â Wokeboi poet. Feminist comedian. Liberal editor. Progressive director. These are men who appeared to so awake that it made you wonder whether they ever slept at all. Men who were supposed to know better. And yet, here we are, having to explain the basic concept ofÂ consentÂ to so many of them.
Of course, put it down to years ofÂ patriarchyÂ and privilege that allowed them to believe that they could get away with flashing their penises, asking girls for nudes, or just generally being toxic. These are men who have completely failed to understand body language or have the ability to read between the lines. These are men who are unable to comprehend enthusiasticÂ consentÂ the idea that consent is not just about the initial yes, that it goes beyond that. It is judged on whether the person you are interacting with is having a good time, is enjoying what is unfolding between the two of you, whether it isÂ sextingÂ or actual sex.
Capturing the signs
The pattern emerging in each of the stories we have heard in the past few days is easy to spot: Men believe that a person who announces in her bio that she has a Tinder profile, is also somehow open to receiving lewd DMs. Replying to DMs is considered a sign of wanting dick pics. A kiss is an invitation to go to second base, and if she is ok with second base, then she is ready for the third base too. Even for these supposedly progressive men, this pattern of speculative thinking where the girl is always, in some way DTF, seems to be the norm. For instance, Chakraborty claimed he assumed that because the girls chose to engage with him onÂ Snapchat, they were okay with sending nudes.
These assumptions fly in the face of enthusiastic consent. And thats a concept we should be retrofitting before any interactions with women.
Enthusiastic consent is when both you and your partner are engaged in sexual activity with equal appetite. If youre sending herÂ dick picsÂ when she didnt ask for them, that is a violation of enthusiastic consent. If youre down to your boxers while shes still contemplating removing her top, its not enthusiastic consent. If youre kissing and shes frozen but not stopping you, that isnt enthusiastic consent. If youre having sex but shes just lying there, that isnt enthusiastic consent either.
Another thing to remember is that despite being a boyfriend, husband or a just casual fling, you are not entitled toÂ sex. It doesnt matter if it was enthusiastic last week or a couple of hours ago if your partner isnt engaging you, stop.
Lemme say it one last time: A yes is a yes, only when it is enthusiastic.
Letâs be clear
A Time MagazineÂ essayÂ on consent quotes Ebony Tucker, the advocacy director at the Americas National Alliance to End Sexual Violence: If you dont have enthusiastic consent, it could be that youre ignoring what your partner is conveying verbally or non-verbally because you want to engage in the activity. Youre not considering what the person is conveying because youre not interested in having an experience with another person youre interested in yourself.
Thats exactly what the problem is. Be it Chakraborty or Bahl, Indian men are too full of themselves to even bother asking their partners or the people they are interacting with if they are interested in them. Asking wont make you any less of a man not asking most certainly will reduce you to a dick.
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