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'Sunny Leone has done more for feminism in India'

February 03, 2017 15:40 IST

'I think we have had across the world, men ill-treating women. It is not just about India and I think we are one of the safest countries in the world.'
'We have had a bunch of politicians who have ruined this country from the time we have got our independence.'
'I think Sunny Leone has done way more for the feminist movement in this country than hundreds of people doing marches together.'

Singer, song writer, and a single mother Manasi Scott wears her heart on her sleeves and tells Rediff.com's Anita Aikara why eve-teasing is a universal problem.

Manasi Scott

Image: Singers Manasi Scott Looking pretty as a peach during Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2016; Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

What is fashion to you? Who is your inspiration?

I think I am most inspired by two people: one is my good friend Ekta Rajani, the fashion director for Grazia. We have grown into two women as girls from our first job.

The second is Coco Chanel. I love the fact she said 'Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.'

To me, what it means is the ability for the inner soul to be expressed outwardly in a materialistic format. You can find an outfit fashionable, you can find the way a person walks fashionable, you can find their heels fashionable...

I think fashion is the innate ability to express emotions in a physical form.

I see music as my soul and fashion is my passion.

Style would be the ability to carry that emotion off.

Favourite style icon...

I have always been excited by the things I see around me that I can wear. I have never really looked up to someone as a style icon. But I think the one person who is delicious and never gets it wrong is Rahul Khanna.

Can anybody get more delicious than that man! There's a charm and ease that Khanna carries it off with.

I have been in love with his father forever. In Rahul Khanna, there's a lot about style. He does it without any effort; whether it is a white T-shirt and blue jeans, he just carries it off.

One fashion accessory you cannot do without...

In the daytime, it would be sunglasses. I love my pair of shades.

I would say one fashion accessory I just can't without would be my tattoos -- I have got six of them.

When you don't have make up on and don't want to think of the clothes you are wearing, you can just drop your off-shoulder down, flaunt a tattoo and you are set.

I have a tattoo of a micro-phone on my forearm, done freehand by an artist.

My first tattoo is that of a dragon, which has been redone as a piece of modern art.

I am doing another one on my back with my son's name, Zephan -- it is a Hebrew word for 'treasured by God.'

Outfit you are wearing

Singers Mansi Scott and Sona Mohapatra picked flowy gowns.

Image: Singers Mansi Scott and Sona Mohapatra in creations from House of Milk by Reshma Merchant.
Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

I'm wearing House of Milk by Reshma Merchant. She's got a very good sense of fashion and style. A lot of people would look at her and wonder where she got the clothes that she was wearing from.

She was draping herself in her own outfits. Then she decided to add a little bit of a twist to it.

She only works with whites and believes that garments can heal in a way. So the dyes she works with, the fabrics she works with, the way the garments are constructed, are healing in a way.

I think she uses plant dyes; for example, if tulsi and neem affects us in a certain way, then those are the dyes she uses.

Reshma is an old friend of mine and I am so glad that she has showcased her collection at LFW. I am very proud of her. There's a lot history to her garments.

Do you feel safe in India?

I am 39 and I want to stand proudly and tell you that I have never felt unsafe in this country. I don't trust the news. A loss of life is a loss of life.

I think we have had, across the world, men ill-treating women. It is not just about India and I think we are one of the safest countries in the world.

You would be stupid to go out alone in the night if you were in Delhi or Bihar, but it's not that you'd be stupid to do that in Chicago or other places in the world.

I am tired of people saying India is unsafe.

I am a single child and my father was a general in the army. I had a scholarship to MIT. I was a software engineer and I remember my dad telling me, 'If all the good guys leave, what is going to happen here.'

The idea is to take the emotion of what Mumbai stands for and take it to the rest of the country. There is no excuse for molesting a girl. There is no excuse for hitting a woman.

I have been in a dark space in my married life and there's no excuse for it.

But I don't think we can label India as being unsafe for women.

We have had a bunch of politicians who have ruined this country from the time we have got our independence. There are things that work, and things that don't.

I think we need to take the first step in female safety by getting women to treat women better -- I thought Pink was a very hard-hitting film and that's what the Delhi scene is like. There is a problem definitely, but I feel that it is not just relevant to entire India.

We should also work towards educating our sons... teach them to treat women with respect. As for the girl children, we need to teach them what respect means!

It has to start now!

Advice to youngsters on how to deal with eve-teasing...

There are two sides to this problem. I remember I was 12 and there were these BSA cycles that had come out. My father had gifted a cycle to me.

I was just coming into puberty and my friends and I used to cycle in Madras (Chennai, now). There were these bunch of guys who cycled up next to us and said, 'Oh! You are so beautiful.'

And we were so angry and we got back to my father. The way they said it was obviously not in a cheap manner. So I remember my father saying, 'Hold on a second! They said you were beautiful. So what are you upset about?'

We (Indians) are told to look at things in a negative way; we are told not to own our sexuality. I think Sunny Leone has done way more for the feminism movement in this country than hundreds of people doing marches together. I am so proud that a person like her is here!

When you are uncomfortable learn to fight about it. Be intelligent about how you do it; I am not telling you to go punch a guy in the middle of the night in Delhi.

Women have to start believing in themselves a little more. And they should stop listening to other people saying what they can and cannot do.

It is about owning your sexuality. Stop treating yourself as weak.

Talk to your nieces, daughters about self-worth and what's okay and what's not.

I think more celebrities should speak up about women atrocities, but then, I think their job is way more important.

The only thing I teach my son every single day is kindness. If you are kind, everything falls in place.

Anita Aikara / Rediff.com
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