TRIGGER WARNING: Depictions of sexual assault and violence against women
The darkly satirical video, “Ladies, It’s Your Fault”, was released by Indian comedy collective All India Backchod (backtalk) over the weekend and has since gone viral. Starring well-known Bollywood actor Kalki Koechlin and video jockey/model Juhi Pande, the English-language video has reached over a million views on YouTube, and is accompanied on the All India Backchod Youtube page by this statement:
Every sexual assault case in India inspires a string of stupid and hateful remarks against women. This is our response to those remarks.
The video satirizes the many ridiculous suggestions for rape prevention made by Indian officials in the wake of the Delhi rape verdicts, including calling for a ban on skirts, cellphones, Bollywood movies, store mannequins, and even Chinese food. My personal favorite is the suggestion that calling your attacker “brother” will prevent him from raping you.
Koechlin’s smiling, friendly, public-service-announcement demeanor creates a sharp contrast with the brutal and provocative content of the video. At the beginning she says, “Ladies, do you think rape is something men do out of a desire for control, empowered by years of patriarchy? You’ve clearly been misled by the notion that women are people too.”
The actors appear more and more beaten-up—sporting bruises, black eyes and even a head wound—over the course of the 3 1/2-minute video. Although they never break character, the tone changes drastically at the very end when a montage of clips of Indian women saying “It’s my fault” reminds you of the seriousness behind this farcical look at sexual violence and victim-blaming in India.
Gursimran Khamba, co-founder of All India Backhod, told Al Jazeera:
The notion behind this video was pretty simple. We wanted to attack patriarchy as it exists in India. It sort of comes out every time there is a sexual assault case or a rape case. The first thing that happens, instead of focusing on the crime and looking at the perpetrator, the default for some reason is that the burden is always put on the woman.
Although the video is at times quite disturbing, especially when it shows Koechlin and Pande being grabbed and harassed by masked men, it makes a point about the absurdity of official responses to rape investigations in a country where an estimated two women are raped every minute. However, India isn’t the only place facing an epidemic of sexual assault and lame excuses for it. Although American victim-blamers are yet to cite something as ridiculous as Chinese food as a cause of rape, many are guilty of using a victim’s past and her alcohol consumption to cast blame off the rapist and to imply that maybe, just maybe, it was her fault.
The video has received overwhelmingly positive responses so far (ignoring, of course, the inevitable few who don’t understand satire) and there have even been requests for a Hindi translation to allow for wider circulation in India.
Melissa McGlensey recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in English and Spanish with a minor in creative writing; she is currently interning at Ms.