Karan Johar, Kangana Ranaut debacle and the complexities of the term, ‘Woman Card’

If Kangana Ranaut was playing the 'woman card' and 'victim card', Karan Johar was playing the 'man card' and 'bully card'

Written by Radhika Iyengar | New Delhi | Updated: March 10, 2017 6:25 pm
Kangana Ranaut, Karan Johar, karan kangana, karan kangana fight, karan kangana word war, karan kangana news Karan Johar had said in an interview that Kangana Ranaut was confused about the understanding of word nepotism and if she was so ‘terrorised’ by Bollywood, she should leave it.

Actress Kangana Ranaut and filmmaker Karan Johar seemed to have plunged into verbal fisticuffs. It’s the classic David versus Goliath. On a chat show called Koffee with Karan, Ranaut divulged, candidly and unapologetically, her stance on Johar’s professional modus operandi. She said that Johar favoured and promoted nepotism in the industry. On the talk show, Johar had taken Ranaut’s comments with a dash of salt. However, in the aftermath of the episode’s broadcast, he called out Ranaut with vengeance, accusing her of playing the ‘woman card’ and the ‘victim card’. As though, for some reason, they were inextricably linked.

Watch Video |5 Bold Statements By Kangana Ranaut On Feminism

Ranaut refused to be cowered down, though.

In an interview with Mumbai Mirror, the actress remarked that she was far from playing the ‘woman card’ or the ‘victim card’. If anything at all, she flaunted her ‘badass card’: “Why is Karan Johar trying to shame a woman for being a woman? What is this about the ‘woman card’ and the ‘victim card’? This kind of talk is demeaning to all women, particularly the vulnerable because they are the ones who really need to use them.” Ranaut continued, “What is important to understand is that we are not fighting people, we are fighting a mentality. I am not fighting Karan Johar, I am fighting male chauvinism.”

She’s right. The term ‘woman card’ attributes to a gender insult. It reminds one of the language used by the sexist demagogue, Donald Trump. While campaigning for presidency against his Democratic rival, he said that the only reason Hillary Clinton was able to draw in 5 per cent of the votes because of her gender. “Well, I think the only card she has is the ‘woman’s card’. She has nothing else going. And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were (sic) a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 per cent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card. And, the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her. Okay?” he said. As a white man of privilege and power, Trump’s resentment was transparent. Evidently, he felt threatened by Clinton – a woman, who according to patriarchal beliefs, was intellectually inferior.

Watch | I Am Done With Kangana Ranaut Playing The Victim Card: Karan Johar

The term ‘woman card’ puts us in a sticky situation. Can’t women run for presidency and do well because of their caliber and not their gender? Can’t a woman speak out, assert herself or challenge authority (even self-proclaimed authorities like Johar’s, who believes he owns  the industry)? In such cases, she’s either accused of flashing the woman’s card; or she is trivialized – I’m referring to macabre controversy around 20-year-old Gurmehar Kaur, who was called “poor girl” and accused of being a victim (again) of having her mind “polluted”.

Also read | Kangana Ranaut destroys Karan Johar: ‘He is trying to shame a woman for being a woman’

Johar, like Trump, carries a sense of entitlement – the entitlement of being a man and the delusional entitlement of being the heir of a sprawling empire. If Ranaut was playing the ‘woman card’ and ‘victim card’, Johar was playing the ‘man card’ and ‘bully card’. Asking Ranaut to leave the industry if she felt uncomfortable with the dynamics of the industry, comes from a place of presupposed authority and a sense of superiority.

To undermine vociferous, assertive women, primarily emerges from a space of insecurity. However, Ranaut’s retort, terse and concise, is admirable. Referring to Johar becoming a father of twins through surrogacy – one daughter, one son – she called him out saying, “Now that Karan is the father of a little daughter, he should provide her with all these cards – the ‘woman card’ and the ‘victim card’, as also the ‘self-made-independent-woman card’, and the ‘badass card’ that I flashed on his show. We will use whatever we need to ensure no one rocks our boat,” she said.

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