It is not difficult to imagine a right-wing vehicle reacting strongly to what they perceive to be contaminating influences of the 'authentic' that they zealously guard. It is, in fact, even easier to imagine that a political fabric that has resorted to every kind of staged drama of 'authentic' to build its own inner confidence. The metaphor of an inviolable/invincible male, that perceives its female property being appropriated by alien seduction as violation of its own sovereignty, in this case is hard to avoid. Much like Katrina in Namastey London finally came around and dumped the white boy and embraced Akshay's nourishing Desi masculinity to corroborate the crisis in nationalist masculinity.
V-day hullabaloo has escalated in most big cities (with Sena/Bajrang Dal folks destroying shop windows displaying V-day pretty things etc.)over the past few years. Increasing flows of global capital into our cities have accelerated the consumption and production of 'global' cultures on cityscapes. This aggravates the right and pokes their masculine anxiety even more. The recent attacks on women are a specific kind of lament of shaky nationalist masculinity losing 'control' over its women.
So what does the Pink-Chaddi campaign signify in this crisis? A direct and provocative opposition/rejection of oppressive masculinity. The obvious image of underwear signifiying feminist politics of personal becoming political. The cliched argument against this technology of radical opposition will be that it is the preserve of urbane, pubgoing, cigarette-smoking women who exclude other sections from their expressions of dissent. To me that is boring critique as it is obviously one form of feminist subjectivity that is legitimate and expess-worthy, of the many that can exist. In fact, it is probably better off being exclusionary than urbane bubblegum women being 'inclusive' by purporting to speak for large numbers that we can't possibly represent.
I want to poke the question of the celebratory/emancipatory role played by the Pink Chaddi here. The provocative image of underwear carries on its shoulders histories of clothing and containing of the body as a modality of power, the Chaddi definitely comes with baggage. The notion that a symbol of repression that is rooted in the ''vernacular'' packaging of the Hindu right has to evoke a symbol of freedom that is rooted in mass cultures of production of the erotic (pink + chaddi) carries, to my mind, troublesome implications that the way out of oppressive ''vernacular'' patriarchies are in global commodity chains. Of course, numerous examples from Bollywood come to mind, where the elusive, defiant sexuality of the woman is captured and contained once she submits to the hero's overtures and to the proposition of being owned. She is then, a good woman, a non-threatening one. The PCC turns the symbols upside down, and shows the bad, pubgoing woman as having accessed freedom. It sticks with the binaries of sari-vernacular-submissive, leather-skirt-defiant though. My question remains that in the act of opposition to oppressive nationalist masculinity, does freedom have to be contained in the Panty and coloured Pink? Does Victoria's Secret hand us the freedom that Hindu right moral police try to destroy?