Being ‘Firang’ and easy

When the Slumdog debate was at its peak, Tarun Tejpal wrote a scathing piece in Tehelka on the stereotypes associated with Indians. It was a brilliantly written piece like most of Tarun Tejpal’s work and had received a lot of positive comments. But there was one strong voice of dissent. It was a letter by a foreigner, a lady, who questioned the righteous anger of Indians by asking uncomfortable questions about our own portrayal of ‘firangs’ in Bollywood. She wondered if showing all foreign women as only sex symbols and easy wasn’t a stereotype. Foreigners in Hindi movies were addicts, sex-o-maniacs or home-breakers, so wasn’t that unfair to them she asked. I was reminded of this statement when I was covering the gang rape of the American student at TISS. The headlines in the newspapers next day screamed that the boys hadn’t anticipated that she would cry rape. Why? Did the boys think that being American she would just shrug it all off as a time pass orgy? I cant remember the last time I heard someone talk nice things about a ‘firang’ girl. Mostly they are a subject of sexual curiosity and lewd jokes. Her skirts, her white skin, her smile, everything is considered as an ‘invitation’, even if the poor girl is just being herself. Yes, you may say that it is the great cultural difference amongst us, which makes it difficult for the average Indian male to understand that a woman could just be friendly with you, hang around with you, drink with you, without having once thought of ‘seduction’. And that is perhaps the only ‘mistake’ this girl made – that of thinking that these people thought of her as a friend and not as an easy catch. If thought this way, yes, it was all her fault, wasn’t it?