It was an Instagram notification that birthed this article.
One evening when I logged into the social media app, I got a notification where I was tagged in a comment by Niyati Tamaskar, author of “Unafraid” on Twinkle Khanna’s YouTube talk show “The Icons” with Sushmita Sen. Twinkle Khanna shares how showing vulnerability is not in her dictionary.
Twinkle Khanna says how she’ll never show her vulnerable side to anyone. And how she’d rather be a bitch than a bechari.
Here’s why I think her views on vulnerability are so off the mark
First, I love Twinkle Khanna’s wit and ambition. However, she’s a mortal like the rest of us, and can’t always be right. Like her views on vulnerability.
I understand the intention behind Twinkle Khanna’s statement was right. For far too long, we’ve been subjected to the bechari or ‘damsel in distress’ heroine on-screen that screams “Bachao” before the hero swoops in and rescues her from her predators. It comes as no surprise that Twinkle Khanna couldn’t fit into the template of the typical bechari Bollywood heroine. She’s successful being the sexy, sassy, bitchy author, columnist and entrepreneur. So, full marks and kudos to her for being the badass that she is in real life, and making a successful career out of it.
But here’s where I differ completely from Twinkle Khanna’s views on vulnerability.
I’m okay with whatever people think of me. That’s not my concern. Be it a bitch or bechari, that’s their perception. Not the reality. Not my problem either.
What I find problematic about Twinkle Khanna’s message is that vulnerability is weakness. No, it’s not. Vulnerability is strength. It takes a lot to be soft, kind, true, and fair in a world that looks down upon these qualities.
Innocence or being called bechari is suddenly a bad thing. And people go to any extent of lies and false bravado to attain power and success even if it makes them look like a bitch or cur. That’s cool but not being an innocent stupid bechari or a pappu, in the political context.
Let’s go back to the basics—Right is right. Wrong is wrong. That’s truth, wisdom and power, even if you’re the lone so-called bechari.
Somehow, Twinkle Khanna’s statement came off as a bit regressive too. Remember the olden times when boys were told not to show their softer side? And how boys were conditioned not to cry so they grow up to be tough men.
Where Twinkle Khanna gets it wrong, Kajol gets it right
I’m reminded of Kajol’s sensitive Instagram post on vulnerability. Of late, I’m loving the new candid side of Kajol that blurts out the first thing on her mind without a care in the world. Her honesty and vulnerability have always been her strengths, both as an actor and a person.
“Isn’t it odd that we live in a society that encourages us to hide our goodness? Our masks are so that none can see that we are actually kind or compassionate or hurt by small things, sensitive or even scared. And we are encouraged to be mean and nasty and tough when true strength is the bravery to be kind openly ❤
So all of you who are ridiculed or looked down on at times for this bravery please know that the ones who do it do not hate you. They envy your ability to show what you really feel and wish they could do it too.”
I love how Kajol sends across a holistic and accurate message about vulnerability. Feminine qualities such as empathy, vulnerability, kindness, and even love have been looked down upon as being too soft or weak. We see how this is played out in our daily lives, at home and in the workplace. How that forms a bias against women who’re actually strong but perceived as weak because they don’t display tough masculine traits.
Regardless of gender, let’s stop this over-glorification of masculine traits because it’s not doing any of us any good.
The middle path
The middle path
As I said earlier, I get that the intention behind Twinkle Khanna’s statement is right. And however much I’d love to endorse Kajol’s views on vulnerability wholly, I’m also aware that it may not be practical as we don’t live in an entirely good world.
Life has taught me to switch on my bitch mode when the situation demands it, or when some people ought to be put in their place. Life has also taught me that it’s not good to bottle up my feelings and to be fearless in expressing my emotions. Be it to a trusted circle of good friends and family members or through creative forms of expression such as writing.
It’s also not weakness to be vulnerable or a bechari. Sometimes, you need to let go of your guard and be willing to be vulnerable in order to experience life and its myriad emotions to the fullest.
Else, we’d be like the many ‘tough’ men who pretend to know the route or know-it-all when they could have been vulnerable to say they don’t and asked for the map instead.
There has to be balance and flexibility of the two forces—masculine and feminine—to manoeuvre in this world.
*This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023