SATYAMEV JAYATE episode 7: Aamir Khan handles domestic violence with sensitivity

The actor-turned-chat show host discussed the issue with a studio audience composed entirely of men

“Patriarchy has defined masculinity such that men can’t cry even when their mothers die,” says an activist on the seventh episode of Satyamev Jayate. Aamir Khan adds, “I cry a lot.” The studio audience, composed entirely of men – the only women present are the victims – laughs nervously. You laugh too, but realise that there’s a huge truth hidden behind that one statement. You recall all the other episodes when Aamir would shed tears listening to a victim recall his or her plight. Suddenly it’s no more about just being a sympathetic host or a good actor. It’s become the basis of changing patriarchal thought, the same thought that leads to domestic violence against women.

The best thing about this episode – which dealt with domestic violence – is the way Aamir brought out the fact that men are not born aggressors and all men are not violent. Instead of taking the easy way out of demonising the men and deifying the women, Aamir took a more balanced approach. He brought forward the viewpoints of women who have stayed in abusive marriages for several years, men who happily admit to browbeating their women, a male police officer who is working hard to end this crime and admits that change has to begin from his own team, activists who work for empowering women, and the men in the studio audience who have their own take on masculinity. Patriarchal thought about masculinity and the role of women in society is what causes men to behave violently and women to take it quietly. Aamir insisted towards the end of the show that it’s that thought that needs to be changed, and the change has to begin with the men. It’s a huge statement and the fact that he had the guts to do it on national television will hopefully turn the tide in a few households at least.