'My husband made me a prostitute': A heady mix of alcohol, driving and sexism

What is the worst thing that can happen to someone who drinks and drives? That the person will get into a road accident and die, or become comatose or a paraplegic or an amputee. Or maybe the person will be responsible for others meeting the same fate. That’s what most reasonable people would assume.

But not, sadly, the makers of the latest “don’t drink and drive” video to go viral on the internet. Dramatically titled, “My Husband Made Me a Prostitute”, this video is being shared wildly by people on Facebook, most of whom are singing its praise.

 My husband made me a prostitute: A heady mix of alcohol, driving and sexism

This 'don't drink and drive' video reeks of sexism. Courtesy: YouTube

The video has only one character in it. A very attractive young woman, dressed to the nines, talking into the camera and telling the viewer how her husband turned her into a prostitute. The woman states that she’s educated and could have had other career options, but decided to become a prostitute because it’s the “highest and fastest paying”. Her in-laws are also aware of her profession, but are fine with it.

She then goes on to fondly describe how she “gets a new man every day,” “big businessmen, spoilt brats, first-timers”. There is no rancour in her voice or demeanour, and, in fact, she rolls her eyes with amusement when mentioning the first-timers. She also tells us that she’s considering having a tubectomy but needs to ask her husband. But her husband doesn’t talk to her or to anyone else.

At this point I still held out hope for the film, if only because she reminded me of Norman Bates and his conversations with his mother. But sadly, this ‘psycho’ film wasn’t written or directed by Hitchcock. We find out her husband is in a coma - and that’s how he “made” her a prostitute. His spine shattered when he was hit by a truck as he was driving drunk back from a party.

I get the intended message of the film. Don’t drink and drive, because it won’t just harm you but also destroy your family. A worthy thought but about as effective as those signs on the side of the road which say, “After drinking whisky, driving is risky” or “Mind your brakes or break your mind”. Reading these silly signs while driving is likely no less risky. But, at least, they’re delivering a clear message of imminent danger to yourself.

The “My Husband Made Me A Prostitute” film is accompanied by this descriptor on its Youtube page – “What is the worst thing that can happen to a man who drinks and drives."

What’s highlighted is the slur that is associated with sex work (even if it’s voluntary). And that’s what gets my goat. That the film-makers and the film’s fans are basically saying that going into coma or breaking your spine be damned, the thought that when you’re comatose and unaware of your surroundings, your wife is fornicating with others should cure you of drinking forever. I want to know how much and what the people who scripted this film were drinking while doing so.

And let’s not ignore the liberal dash of sexism in the message that the only way a woman can support herself is by becoming a prostitute – however educated she may be and however many options she may have. Of course, this film has its heart in the right place, but the only result that I foresee of this film is that a lot more women may end up becoming high class escorts. Going by what’s described in this film, it definitely looks like a more fun, glamorous and lucrative option than the jobs most of us end up having to do. Maybe it’s actually a subliminal way of supporting the oldest profession in the world.

But in case we feel she’s enjoying her life without her husband too much, her last line to the camera is “maybe I die every day, but I’m sure he will live one day." She then wipes her tear-filled eyes and walks off into the yonder.

The utter lack of logic and the regressive message that this film propagates reminds me of the film Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. In that film, Rani Mukherji comes to Bombay from a small town. Her parents stay in a mansion in Benares, but are supposedly poor.

When she comes to Bombay, she decides that being a prostitute will get her more money than any other profession. And she takes to it like a duck to water, lives in a super-fancy high rise building in Mumbai with glass walled bathrooms, travels business class and in a chauffeur driven car and sends her parents tons of money. The message in that? Don’t ask your daughter for money or she’ll become a high class prostitute, meet a billionaire attorney played by Abhishek Bachchan and marry him. A fate worse than death.

Now I don’t expect any better from the Aditya Chopra stable of films, but when a public awareness film claims to be spreading a message, I expect them to not resort to misogynistic messages like this one. Not once does the woman in this film say how difficult it is to pay her bills, or how expensive her husband’s medical requirements are or how she wishes her in-laws pitched in financially. If life is so tough, it’s not conveyed. It actually sounds so peachy, that if I was her husband and woke up from my coma, I would encourage her to keep up her dedication to her profession.

There’s another short which I think everyone should watch. A film about an ordinary middle class woman and how she earns a living to support her family and has no sob story with which she tries to justify it.

Now if only more people made films like this, instead of the tripe that is being passed off as public awareness messaging.

Updated Date: Dec 02, 2014 07:51:26 IST