Countless men come to mind when one thinks of successful Hollywood actors who are not that great in real life. Take Casey Affleck, for instance. The younger Affleck recently won an Academy Award for his tragic and believable performance in Manchester By the Sea. Sexual assault survivor advocate, Brie Larson stood on stage when Affleck accepted his award and while the audience erupted in a thunderous applause at his win, Larson refused to clap for him. Her reason was simple: Affleck settled a sexual harassment case out of court in 2010 and Larson obviously didn’t think such a man needed to be celebrated.
And there are so many other Hollywood giants who are known for other troubling reasons. Woody Allen has been accused of child molestation by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow. Mel Gibson was charged with domestic violence for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva. Sean Penn was accused of beating up Madonna (who later dropped the charges).
In fact, even Bollywood has its fair share of successful actors who act like heroes on screen but are far from it in actuality. Salman Khan was involved in a hit-and-run case in 2002 where he actually ended up killing a homeless man on the streets.
What all these men have in common is that none of these incidents had an impact on their careers. Salman Khan continues to be a box office success film after film, the likes of Affleck and Gibson continue to receive Oscar nominations and Hollywood still holds Woody Allen in very high regard.
So when men can get away with such atrocious allegations and crimes, then what will society do to a man who is guilty of something less offensive, which is to be openly misogynistic? Probably nothing. Much hue and cry was raised at what Yasir Hussain said jokingly about child abuse but did anyone also pay attention to what Noman Ejaz said on stage at the Hum Awards? The veteran actor, who has countless successful performances under his belt, such as Mera Sayein, Jackson Heights, Dumpukht – Aatish-e-Ishq and Khan, went on stage to compare women to horses. He gave a sermon of sorts in which he uttered the following words: “Aurat aur ghori ager ek awaaz per na aayein, tau samjho masla aurat mein nahi, mard ki mardaangi mein hai. Aap ka roeb kam hai, ya aap mein itni taaqat hi nahi.”
At a time when journalists, critics and even some reasonable and enlightened filmmakers like Jami and Adnan Sarwar are saying that women need to be treated better in our films and TV plays, somebody as exalted and respected as Ejaz takes the stage and reduces a woman’s worth to that of a mare who needs to be obedient to her master.
What’s worse is that Ejaz was only “trying to make the audience laugh,” according to him. A clarification was later offered by the actor who explained that these lines were dialogues from his play, Sang e Marmar. “Our society is going through such mental stress so I just said this to freshen everyone up and make them laugh,” he wrote on Instagram.
Sadly, our audience will laugh when a woman is being treated like a possession. Our audience will laugh when a comedian jokes about child abuse. And when these jokes are uttered by some of our most favourite leading men, then everyone will sweep it under the carpet and act like nothing happened.
It’s a pity that a lot of men get away with literally anything and still manage to get ahead in life in terms of their career (Donald Trump is the President of the United States despite his horrific view towards women) and it seems as though things are simply getting worse instead of moving towards equality and acceptance of both sexes. We hope it gets better though but for now, things appear a little bleak.