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Kumudam Reporter – Backlash on the Cover Story

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Kumudam Reporter’s cover story on women’s leggings faces backlash from the social media – Long overdue and well deserved. When I scrolled across the social media pages last night, reading the outrage against this sexist story, I couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief and smile. Smile? Seriously? Am I insane? I should have felt indignant and horrified. I should have called the magazine names and took on to Facebook and Twitter immediately. But really, I didn’t feel any strong emotion and I wasn’t even surprised. For those who are reading Kumudam for the first time, this story might have sounded truly offensive. But to those who have been following this magazine for some time, this story is no big news. They’ve printed worse and not just in Reporter. Kumudam had the backlash coming for a long time, closer and closer with every article and it finally made it to lowest of lows. Congratulations Kumudam!

I’ll let you in on one of my secrets. I’ve been reading Kumudam for a long time now. When I was in college, Kumudam was a tea-time read with hot pakoras and movie gossips making a good time-pass combination. It wasn’t all that bad those days. I continued to read it even after moving out of hometown with the excuse that I didn’t want to lose touch with reading and writing Tamil. Before I could realize, I found myself addicted and not in a good way. We know cigarettes are injurious to health but people do smoke anyway, right? With no-smoking-in-public regulations, people smoke in the bathrooms. Well, my tea-time read has now become a loo-time read. I was struggling in vain to let go of this silly magazine for quite a while inspite of it degrading day by day. This article on women’s leggings is my last cue to stop. And I am stopping.

I had long given up on the contrived versions of Indian culture and tradition. Politics, religion and morality have become so entwined with the so called culture and tradition and are used conveniently by folks who have no clue about any of it. I’ve written about it in my blog many times that I do not even want to bother with it once again. Anybody in India can take a moral stance and point fingers at everybody else. “Hey, you are bad”, says one. “But you are worse, look around, everyone is much much worse”, says another. That is how arguments go these days. It is a debate over you and me, this and that. Not about the right and wrong. Not about what is needed and what is not. Extremes exploited. Nobody internalizes or makes any sense. Nobody wants to. To avoid being pointed at, people chose to point themselves. That’s the norm today.

The more we move towards change and progress, the more we pander to resistance and it has become so vicious. Sometimes, even the backward past seem far better than the confused present. And on every Independence Day and Republic Day, I have to be a proud Indian, right? For what? For giving hell to the great minds of the country during their lifetime and glorifying them after their death? Absolute hypocrisy! There was a time when I was still fighting to make sense. Now, I have so given up. I have my ways. I have my life. Anything unwanted that comes in the middle will receive the worst response from me. Ignore and move on.

What caught my eye about the article in Kumudam is not the article itself. It is the social media’s reaction to it. People have had enough. People are willing to unlearn the unscrupulous hard-wiring done to their minds since childhood and waking up, aren’t they? Not every one of course but every incident here and there, every preaching now and then is now looked at with new, even if only a few, enlightened eyes. Things that were once invisible and taken for granted is now openly and rightfully shammed in the social media. People have found their voice. Or people already had a voice but were just too afraid to speak. The social media has given them, us, not just a platform but a podium to air our views. Now, that’s a good thing. And that is why I smiled.

As for Kumudam’s backlash in the social media, I know this will go on for a few days and then stop. Everybody has work to do and will go back to it until something else comes up again to cause aggression. As long as there is agitation from the people for the right reasons, perhaps, we do have a chance to a better tomorrow. It’s never too bad and never too late to hope.

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