Sushmita Sen, Lalit Modi and the Internet Jury

It is safe to say that the Sushmita Sen-Lalit Modi announcement broke the internet. There was a section making unafraid memes out of the situation, alluding to the difference in appearance and wealth between the two. The second section—the more cryptic one—said it was humorous because it was an unlikely pairing. Tremendous consent reached the board of trolls on social media?

That sen must be a “gold digger”. Who is this proverbial gold digger that gets referred twice a day on Twitter? Certainly, this is not a man. Gold digging is an inherently sexist phenomenon invented by men who do not believe in the agency of women. The proof of this lies in the fact that the term is almost never applied to men.

Sen, a prolific actress and former Miss Universe, also known for her work in charity, was taken to be dating Modi for reasons that were not deemed valid enough by a social media jury. They collectively come to the conclusion that she may be doing this for her “money”, despite the fact that Sen makes enough for himself and generously excludes it.

Sen replied sternly, “I’ve never had friends and acquaintances I’ve never met …. all sharing their grand ideas and deep wisdom about my life and character… ‘Gold Digger ‘!!! Ahhhh genius!!! I dig deeper than gold… and I’ve always preferred (famous) diamonds!!😉😁❤️And yes I still buy them myself Am !!!”

Sen is not the first and not the last to be called a gold digger on social media for dating a man who could be more affluent than him. For women, the sword is double-edged: should she marry an older man, she would be doing it for money. Should she refuse to marry someone who is big enough, she is branded “shallow” and strays to regressive norms. The same is the case when a woman chooses to date someone who is considered less attractive than she is “traditionally”.

The incident is far more frightening than the bunch of memes being circulated on Twitter. Riya Chakraborty’s social media trial is proof of this. NCB has accused her of taking ganja and giving it to her then boyfriend late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. While his legal responsibility is beyond the scope of this article, the kind of backlash he is facing on social media begs the question: Do people not believe in Rajput’s agency “consuming” ganja? Are? Regardless of Chakraborty’s role in the case, the fact remains that our culture tends to assign agency to women only if they want to blame her for the “fall” of a man.

For another example, Anushka Sharma is one such person who is constantly blamed for Virat Kohli’s performance on the field. The actor was plagued by allegations of being gold diggers on social media, with a tweet asking, “Why don’t these so called actresses fall for common men? I wonder what would have happened if it wasn’t Virat Kohli but another Virat next door, would these gold diggers still fall for him? sorry virat bhai i like you but i don’t like your wife period [sic]No matter how easily this argument can be overturned, it somehow turns a blind eye to Sharma’s personal achievement.

There was a time when marriages were a transaction. In those days, it was a way for women in a patriarchal society to gain social security which was provided to them not in any other way but through the legal sanction of marriage.

A daughter in India was and is still seen as a burden for marriage, and then society places the blame on women who cave in to their own punitive ideals. Sushmita Sen, Anushka Sharma and Rhea Chakraborty are accomplished women who don’t have to start over. The legendary gold digger, in any case, remains a smokescreen on which the patriarch projects his image.

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