Not sexism, Internet's debating over Akshay Kumar's sense of humour vs Mallika Dua's

If we still don't (and refuse to) understand the difference between sexual harassment and 'comedy' in the name of sexual harassment, there's a long way to go for us.

Recently, Bollywood actor, Akshay Kumar, who is judging the Star Plus’ show, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, is in the news for making a deeply insensitive and sexist remark about Mallika Dua, who’s one of the mentors. What Akshay Kumar said to Mallika was, undoubtedly, sexist but as is a norm in India (and elsewhere), for some it was ‘just a joke’ and there’s no need to make an ‘issue’ of it. This has started a debate on Twitter and obviously, terms like feminism are being used again, (incorrectly, of course) with people shamelessly pointing fingers at Dua.

To give you the context, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge requires the judges and the mentors to ring a huge bell hanging over a raised platform if they like a contestant. So when Mallika climbed up to ring the bell for a contestant, Akshay Kumar is heard saying: “Mallika Ji aap bell bajao, main aapko bajata hoon.”

Which, according to his fans, is his idea of a joke and a ‘light-hearted’ comment.

Mallika Dua’s father and veteran journalist, Vinod Dua took to Facebook to express his displeasure and wrote, “I am going to screw this cretin Akshay Kumar for telling his co-worker Mallika Dua that “aap bell bajao main aap ko bajata hun” at 5:26. This is his sense of humor and language.”

He later deleted his post.

All this comes after a week of the vigorous #MeToo campaign where women (as well as men) came out in solidarity, made themselves heard and shared their stories of sexual harassment. ‘She Says’, which describes itself on Twitter as a ‘youth-led movement to end gender discrimination and further the rights of women’, posted a tweet with the video clip.

This started a debate and some of the responses on the thread are quite disturbing:

Then, there were some sane voices as well:

(Also Read: Mallika Dua vs Akshay Kumar: Internet sensation responds to those trolling her)

If we still don’t  (and refuse to) understand the difference between sexual harassment and comedy in the name of sexual harassment, there’s a long way to go for us.