Filmmaker Karan Johar has called out the mindset of people who question the legitimacy of accounts of sexual abuse survivors by saying they don’t have enough proof.
One of the many ways the survivors of sexual harassment are shamed, after they come out with their stories, is by being questioned for proof of the abuse that they have faced.
During a session on masculinity at We The Women conclave on Monday evening, Johar criticised this mentality and said when a woman shares her story with the world, she must be believed.
“When I read so many of those narratives and stories, they broke my heart. It made me realise we cannot be complicit to this and you have to wake up, smell the coffee and be active about it. Every woman, who has a voice, has to be respected, applauded for coming out, and it is essential to believe every given voice. You cannot say there’s no proof. That is a lame, masculine thing to say. When a woman comes out, she expresses her heart out, she is right and you believe her,” said the director.
At the conclave, Karan Johar was asked about the ways in which he is ensuring a safer workplace for women. To which, the filmmaker replied, “Internally, we have always had our system in place. We have all the commissions in place. But they have been re-energised and re-activated now. There’s a huge sense of accountability that has set in not only in my company but also us in general.”
Early on in the session, Johar spoke about the various myths attached to masculinity in society, and he shared how the stereotypes made his childhood difficult.
“I have been tormented to a point where I went to a speech therapist to change my voice, to bring a baritone. I was 15. I was at that awkward age and my voice was squeaky. Everybody would say, ‘You sound like a girl.’ I heard that like a million times and I told the therapist, ‘Can you make me sound like a boy?’ It was not fun. I did it for three years. This gentleman gave me voice exercises. It was embarrassing and torturous. I used to tell my father that I was going to a tuition class because I did not want to say I was going to become a man. I should not have been put through that. If I was sounding a certain way, it should have been okay,” Johar revealed.
Karan Johar also said he would never enforce any gender stereotype on his two kids.
The director said, “Masculinity or Femininity is being comfortable in your skin. You would not put things in boxes. Like I would not tell my child to not cry like a girl. That’s ridiculous. If he wants to cry, he should cry. I wouldn’t tell him, ‘Don’t walk or dance like a girl’.”