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Of sexual indignities & perfect Allana

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Oct 30, 2017, 12:21 am IST
Updated : Oct 30, 2017, 12:21 am IST

How long will it take for men in the UK to become aware of the sexual indignities women continue to face?

Harvey Weinstein
 Harvey Weinstein

Sometimes one wonders when male politicians will learn gender sensitivity? Don’t they know it’s just not kosher to make jokes about Harvey Weinstein, one of the most despised men on the planet right now? However, surprisingly, on the 60th anniversary of the Today programme on Radio 4 (a landmark show many tune into for the day’s agenda) — Michael Gove, a Cabinet minister, may have actually thought he was giving the presenter John Humphrys a compliment when he said “Sometimes I think coming into the studio with you John is a bit like going into Harvey Weinstein’s bedroom — you hope to emerge with your dignity intact.” Yes, Mr Humphrys — that “joke” was meant to make you feel invincible and macho! Hope you got it!

If that was not ghastly enough — former Labour leader Neil Kinnock added (yes, this is a joke, too!) — “John goes way past groping. Way past groping.”

Yes, folks and then everyone laughed. It’s absolutely okay, of course, when you are three privileged white men (as one listener pointed out) — and you seriously have no idea what it is to be raped. While at least Mr Gove had the grace to apologise (on Twitter!) — nothing was heard from Mr Kinnock.

How long will it take for men in the UK to become aware of the sexual indignities women continue to face?

I remembered Salman Khan’s remark about how each time he went in to the wrestling arena he felt “raped”, while shooting Sultan. And you will recollect the huge furore it created. But to make a so-called “hilarious” comparison with Mr Weinstein is sickening.

Hopefully the two politicians were given a lesson in “sensitive behaviour”. But what about the (male) journalists who happily tweeted the remarks? How come the BBC (undoubtedly run by another white male) has not issued any reprimands?

But while BBC might not be quick off the mark defending gender issues (remember how we discovered a while ago that women anchors were being paid much less than men) — they are certainly on the lookout for older anchors, according to some news reports! Wow, that is indeed reassuring — as it seems they have discovered that Richard Attenborough at 91 and Mary Berry at 82 have a huge fan following. So perhaps a chosen few with wrinkles and “expertise” would be welcomed. Alison Kirkham, the head of the BBC’s factual department, is now actively looking for older anchors — that is, anyone over the age of 70.

This mission is welcome in an environment in which (not very long ago) we read about one private TV channel anchor in the UK who underwent plastic surgery just so she would remain young forever. And she shared the entire blood-soaked process in a popular magazine. Let’s hope Indian TV will also stop running after PYTs… And yes, I know we have Amitabh Bachchan, but he is only 70! For India — where a 47-year-old leader is considered “youthful”, 70 is early middle age!

Well, well, well… never let it be said that I did not try to read Lincoln in the Bardo, the winner of the Man Booker Prize, 2017. It does occasionally happen that a much-praised book lies on one’s bedside table, gathering moss… and this is such a moment! But I am sure I will be able to get back to it, because critics have already warned us that this is a book that requires patience — and only as you plough through a substantial number of pages do you begin to appreciate its deep narrative… etc, etc. For me, a straightforward book in which President Lincoln mourns his son, would have been really interesting — but to read a whole book based on sparse mutterings from corpses buried near the dead boy, can be a little tiresome. Most of the writing appears like a series of tweets from beyond the grave. But then it is infinitely better than if Elmet, a book written on a mobile phone, had won. This is a worrying sign that more and more books appear to be written for people to read on the Tube… whatever happened to the nice, chunky novel — worthy, full of descriptive passages? Gone with the wind, I suspect.

Meanwhile, the real reason I like Amal Allana is not because she is perfect — but because she is perfect and has a real job. (This is different from being Kate Middleton, who is also perfect, but only has to be perfect at being perfect. That is her only job.) And so Ms Allana blew everyone away by arriving at a Halloween party in LA, where the ’70s were the theme wearing a glittery sequinned jumpsuit, with her hair in an Afro. Now tell me another UK-based lawyer who can attempt at reparation of the Elgin Marbles, rescue of Muslim political exiles, successfully marry George Clooney, have twins (a boy and a girl), and then appear within four months at the Venice film festival — and now Hollywood — whilst leaving many celebrities scrambling for media space. I think the time has come for the Indian government to hire her to get back the Kohinoor — and a bunch of other stuff. (I would also like Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s throne, please, to be sent back to India.) She is the only lawyer in the world who will keep the agenda in the headlines, 24x7. And she could drape a mean sari too…

Tags: harvey weinstein, alison kirkham