The much-maligned middle finger has made headlines again. This time thanks to cricketer Virat Kohli, who showed his middle finger to Aussie crowds on day two of the India-Australia test match, claiming they were being abusive to him. Kohli, who is being fined 50% of his match fee, has inadvertently sparked off a debate on why showing the middle finger is such a big deal.
Last month, actor Sonam Kapoor made the same gesture at a press conference in Mumbai, asking mediapersons why they were making a big deal about the fact that her character in the film Players does so. “Don’t we all show the middle finger to people in real life?” she said, flashing the finger.
Ad-man Prahlad Kakkar agrees. “We should not make a big deal out of this. Showing a finger in today’s context is not such a bad thing at all,” says Kakkar. “If showing the middle finger is abusive, then so is what the Aussie crowd did.
Besides, showing the middle finger is not necessarily abusive, it’s just an impassioned reaction,” says ad guru Alyque Padamsee.
“Take a walk on campus and see how people talk these days; the middle finger is not a big deal,” says Priyanka Sethi, 21, a student.
However, many feel that making obscene gestures on a public platform is just not done. “Kohli and Sonam are role models for many. This just ruins their image,” says Rahul Sharma, 29, an engineer. “Such things are okay among friends, but one should know where to draw the line,” says Mohit Singh, 19, student.
How it began
The concept of showing the middle finger as an insult can be traced back to ancient Greek comedies, and in Ancient Roman writings it was called the digitus impudicus (impudent finger). According to another theory, in the first-century Mediterranean world, extending the finger was one of the many methods used to divert the threat of the evil eye.