Tuesday, September 19

Gurbaksh Chahal And The Brown Cult Of Abuse

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Someone actually called him the real life “Mr. Gray.” Gag.

Gurbaksh Chahal, CEO of Gravity4, snot-nosed princeling, and prodigal tech entrepreneur was convicted of domestic violence after being on probation since 2014.

The young mogul kicked his former girlfriend 117 times in 30 minutes after she reportedly went to Vegas with another man.

Dozens of articles online attribute Chahal’s behavior to the chauvinistic culture of Silicon Valley. It’s true that blatant sexism has been found, repeatedly, in the actions of young male tech celebs like Evan Spiegel, Snapchat’s CEO and all-around scumbag, who wrote emails to his old frat Kappa Sig at Stanford about wanting to “fuckbitchesgetleid.”

The immature sexism and frat boy mentality almost go hand in hand with the male tech world of Silicon Valley, but Chahal’s case has another added layer.

One big aspect of South Asian culture, at home and in the diaspora, is the aggrandizing of maleness. It’s no secret that many parts of South Asia prefer boys over girls. The hyper-patriarchal familial and communal structures only reproduce the dynamic where “male” culture is celebrated, even when it’s violent. And it usually is.

Chahal was a product of where he lived but also where he came from. He was obnoxious, treated women badly, and saw himself as above the law. South Asian masculinity often comes with this sense of male entitlement.

In fact, earlier this year, the head of Pakistan’s Islamic Council said it was okay for men to “lightly beat” their wives. So not only is physical violence still present in South Asian communities, but is also continuously institutionalized.

This is not to say that South Asian cultures are inherently violent, because the celebration of masculinity exists even in the West, particularly in the Silicon Valley. The continued allowance of domestic violence, to the point where politicians, clerics, men with power, can say inexcusable things about women’s bodies is also reflected in how politicians in the United States talk about rape and birth control.

That being said, we must address the nuances in the ways that our communities celebrate toxic masculinity, and the ways in which the current status quo in South Asian cultures has contributed to Chahal’s male aggression.

“The South Asian community doesn’t have to take responsibility for Chahal’s actions. We do, however, have to recognize that ignoring the violent behavior of men…only continues the cycle of violence and sexism within our community.”

My South Asian female friends and I often roll our eyes at brown men like Chahal — guys who are forgiven for everything by their parents and communities, lauded for their professional successes and deemed the pinnacles of South Asian progress.

After all, Chahal made it in Silicon Valley, one of the most cutthroat professional regimes in the United States, and is so young, so handsome. He’s untouchable. South Asian men in tech are a source of cultural pride, images of them circulated on family Whatsapp groups from home and used as examples of men to look for to marry.

Brown men like Chahal are fawned over by their families and in community settings. Outside of those contexts, their sexist and violent behavior are witnessed only by their male friends.

The South Asian community doesn’t have to take responsibility for Chahal’s actions. We do, however, have to recognize that ignoring the violent behavior of men, especially entitled, violent young men, who have made it professionally, only continues the cycle of violence and sexism within our community.

In fact, these brown men use communities and families to hide behind when they do commit crimes or violent acts.

SF Weekly

In 2014, members of Chahal’s San Jose Gurdwara protested outside the Hall of Justice when he was brought in for violating his probation. Their signs claimed that the DA was discriminating against minorities.

Granted, other Bay Area Sikhs renounced this protest. But the fact that Chahal was able to rally communal support speaks to how far South Asian communities go to in order to protect masculinity.

Chahal went to great lengths to keep the news of his violent behavior from reaching public attention. This was as strategic as it was habitual. He is like every other South Asian man who abuses and is still embraced by his community. The only difference is Chahal got caught.

We need to do more to stop men in our community from harming others. We need to stop forgiving them. And we need to teach them better. Chahal is not the only one of his kind, he’s just the only one of his kind with a couple billion in the bank.

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