While many believe that allies are vital tools needed to further any social cause seeking equality, Bollywood Star Shah Rukh Khan offers a new perspective on men’s role in empowering women. His opinions suggest that maybe it is time to modify our language to better fit the current feminist narrative.
While seen as a celebrity heartthrob by many, the popular actor showed his activist side at the 2017 Shabana Azmi’s Mijwan charity fashion show. While speaking at this event, Khan stated, “When we say, ’empower women’, there is nothing like empowering them. They are more powerful than us. All we need to do is genuinely give all the ladies an even playing field.”
Because women are already strong, powerful creatures, “empowerment” from men can be seen as inaccurate and unnecessary. What is the use of the opposite sex offering support and strength if women are already unbelievably strong on their own? Procuring social, economic, and political equality for women would be a more valuable use of most men’s time.
As a 51-year-old man with a longtime career in the public eye, Khan understands and truly believes that women have always been undervalued in society. He continued to praise the organizer of this charity event by saying, “Mijwan in it’s own fantastic way is doing the same thing. When learning is given to a woman, it goes further and wider than a man. Women take it to the children, the society, and everyone else.”
Azmi Shabana, actor and powerful woman herself, agreed. Women like her have the capabilities to fight alongside others in India and globally to acquire more education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.
In his 2016 film, Dear Zindagi, Khan plays a psychologist helping an artist in her journey through life. It is a supporting role to the lead female star Alia Bhatt. Regarding his role, Khan said in an interview with Hindustan Times, “I am a support in the film, more like an extended cameo.”
His stardom attracts viewers to the film while still giving his costar the majority of the spotlight. Although, late last year, the actor had made some controversial remarks regarding his female costars, it may have just been a slip of the tongue. Perhaps we all need to make some adjustments in the way we talk about women and the global conversation of gender equality.
Shah Rukh Khan and many other voices, like Amitabh Bachchan, a fellow successful Bollywood actor, have been making strides to deliver positive messages about equality and ending violence against women. Their words open up a conversation on bringing about change. Encouraging men to give women concrete opportunities instead of trying to vaguely “empower them” is a step in the right direction.
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