Earlier this week, Priyanka Chopra Jonas became engulfed in an enflamed rhetoric which may have started to catalyze her own demise. The Bollywood turned Hollywood actress has been heavily criticized and called a hypocrite for making her embarrassing and insensitive response to an audience member who pointed out Chopra’s problematic stance on war during a BeautyCon panel. Pakistani woman, Ayesha Malik, spoke out about Priyanka’s public support for the Indian Armed Forces and her role as UN Ambassador for Peace. Ayesha went on to call Priyanka a hypocrite, quoting her tweets and calling her out on supporting nuclear war with Pakistan. What happened next, was awkward, embarrassing, and to many, showed Priyanka’s true colours.
After the mic was aggressively snatched away from Ayesha, Priyanka chirped back with an, “I hear you. Whenever you’re done venting.” She went on to say, “So, I have many, many friends from Pakistan…” And that’s when the world cringed behind their laptop screens and wondered if Chopra had any semblance of what was coming out of her mouth. Many women were quick to call out Chopra online for being insensitive, rude, entitled, and above all else, embarrassing. Priyanka, a self affirmed feminist, global UN Ambassador for peace, and raunch Narendra Modi supporter seems to be an amalgamation of things that don’t belong together.
Modi is the leader of the BJP, a Hindu Nationalist group that is known for its violence towards Muslims. Chopra’s “Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces” Tweet was called into question earlier this year during a time when India was inciting war against Pakistan. And most recently, Indian Armed Forces invaded Muslim majority Kashmir. What was already a heavily militarized zone by the Indian Army is now a hotpot of uncertainty, curfews, broken families, and colonial war mongering. Fans too were coming to the realization that the Priyanka they know and love, was nothing more than a mindless pawn who was waving her white feminist flag around for the world to see. Priyanka Chopra’s grand display of defensiveness was uncomfortable to watch. Instead of addressing the very true, and valid claims of Ayesha Malik, Chopra instead rebutted the claims by telling another woman she was being too emotional, too angry, too loud. Priyanka was more concerned about herself, her own feelings, and her own ego, instead of the bigger picture. A classic representation of toxic white feminism. Something the white washed Chopra has become all too familiar with since her debut in LA.
In a 2018 piece for Harper’s Bazaar, Rachel Cargle wrote an in depth description of this kind of dangerous feminism. She wrote:
“The fragility of these women was not a surprise to me. In a crucial moment of showing up for our marginalized community, there was more concern about their feelings and ego as opposed to the fight forward for women as a whole. What could have been a much-needed and integral display of solidarity and true intersectionality quickly became a live play-by-play of the toxicity that white-centered feminism can bring to the table of activism. It is the type of behavior that rests under the guise of feminism only as long as it is comfortable, only as long it is personally rewarding, only as long as it keeps “on brand.” But if the history of this movement taught us anything, it is that intersectionality in feminism is vital.”
She goes on to elaborate on some of the items in The Toxic White Feminism Playbook, all of which, Chopra is guilty of using in her quick, snappy response.
When women of color begin to cry out about their pain, frustration, and utter outrage with the system that is continuing to allow our men to murdered, our babies to be disregarded, and our livelihood to be dismissed, we are often met with white women who tell us perhaps we should “say things a little nicer” if we want to be respected and heard.
When you try to exclude yourself from the conversation of race by saying things like “I don’t see color,” or “I married a black man and have brown kids,” that’s just as irrational as a man saying there is no way he could be sexist or misogynistic because he has a daughter.
In the case of Chopra, her “girl, don’t yell,” was a prime example of tone policing. And the most cringe worthy response of all, when Priyanka told Ayesha she has Pakistani friends, is centering at its finest.
Other celebrities were quick to join in on the conversation too. Most notably, was Pakistani actress Armeena Khan.
Armeena, who will be hand delivering this letter during the Kashmir rally in London and is hoping that Bollywood actors like Priyanka who also hold positions as global supporters of peace, can be held accountable. You can read the letter she penned in full above.
It’s difficult to face the truth when it comes to acknowledging the depths of hypocrisy in one of your own. Priyanka is a woman of colour, representing the South East Asian community in Hollywood. She has made tremendous strides for herself in the past decade and it’s hard to not feel proud sometimes. However, after these recent events, Priyanka is cancelled. What’s the point in celebrating someone who is unable and unwilling to see the err in their ways? Someone who condemns a Muslim woman for speaking the truth. Someone who supports and celebrates a terrorist Hindu nationalist party. Someone who is an ambassador for peace but at the same time, tweets support for military warfare where civilian lives are stolen. It’s difficult to offer support for a woman who is a hot pot of confusion and hypocrisy.