The ‘Ms.’ Representation: Who Gave Birth To the Idea Of Misogyny?

By Mahitha Kasireddi:

I walked in to the library one afternoon and subconsciously started searching for books related to women issues. This is the unusual me, I have always been neutral to the gender factor and today without my notice I turned into a feminist. I emerged a strong advocate of the ‘Right To Choice of Women’. Thanks to Damini, the brave heart who gave us this spirit to fight for the representation of women!

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I am extremely happy with the new propaganda that is being propagated by women within the horizons of society they live in. The propaganda that caught attention, especially the males’ attention- “Don’t teach me how to dress, teach your sons to respect women!” The most celebrated laconic statement which served as a logo for the mighty women’s movement.

Since a month it’s been quite difficult to keep track of the number of misogynistic assertions made by politicians, police and god-men. Like any other girl I was equally outraged by the absurd and backward mindset revelations against women. All these days the misconception I had that women are developing and making their mark in every field has been corrected, thanks to the male chauvinistic forces in the country.

Lately I have been through a great transformation of ideas inside me. I do not know if it is a healthy sign but I see myself getting very intolerant towards mildest of jokes about women. Every now and then there is an attempt somewhere to stereotype women. The popular relationship jokes in which the girl is type casted as a typical cry-baby who is confused and hysterical always initiates the breakup. Exclusive jokes related to women driving on the roads, and the ones on shopping habits of women. In fact there is nothing about us which isn’t commented or laughed about.

The very feminist tendency is always scrutinized, put in the dock, judged, ridiculed and victimized both by media and by common people like you and me.

Yes, you and I are also a part of the ground basis of this spreading misogyny.

If you are a girl, look back and retrospect for a while. At some point of time you would have judged a fellow woman basing on her choices, her character, her friends and relationships. She might be your sister, your classmate, your best friend, your teacher or your aunt.

At least once and at most always you would have gossiped about her personal life and her character because she is very interactive with men, wears skin tight clothes which reveal her shapes so distinctly, something which you cannot dare to do because you are not that confident enough to be a liberal, free thinking woman or because she is sexually very active. Do you realize that on the one side you are supporting the women cause and on the other side you are deterrent in another woman’s life simply because you do not respect her choices?

If you are a housewife, remember the number of times you gave an unacceptable gaze at your teenage neighbour each time you saw her dressed and going out with her male friends?

If you are a male who is sensitive and supportive to the women’s movement, shouldn’t forget the time when you underestimated your sister and always broke her confidence by telling her she cannot do things what men do, like driving fast and playing cricket etc.

Well, I have a confession to make. When I was 19, I had blocked a school friend of mine on Facebook for the only reason because she was extremely liberal and modern. I was surprised to see her photos on Facebook posing very close to men who were drinking and she was clad in ‘less clothes’. I feared the social stigmas surrounding the issue. I feared I would be questioned for having her on my list. Today, after four years I deeply regret and I am ashamed for judging her and not respecting her choices.

Now, having said this I am caught up in an ambiguity on which side to take. When girls say that nobody has the right to prescribe what they should wear, parents have stronger arguments to negate them. Priyanka Chopra said on a TV show- “This is a democracy, I may walk naked on the road but nobody has the right to touch my body or rape me. I should be respected for my choice”. My father says she has no social responsibility and ethics. Well, what are those standards and parameters? Who defines when teasing becomes disrespecting and when wooing becomes harassing. Who decides moral and ethics? Should these be left to individual beliefs?

Commenting on the growing rape culture in India and safety of women our politicians cleverly pushed the blame on nudity in films. I had tweeted to actor Suresh-“Indian cinema does influence young minds. The heroes woo heroines and young boys who follow them think it is chauvinistic”. Replying to this he said-“Common sense dictates man from movies to reality! Why can’t they follow the scenes where hero saves the heroine?” Looks valid enough, but is the saving act also not a part of impressing her and compelling her to love him back as a return favor?  I did not make an effort to tweet him back as we all know that it is difficult to get politicians to agree that they are a corrupt lot and an actor to agree that movies influence societies.

Even though I am calling for reforms in the Indian cinema, I still say women who choose such a career should definitely be respected for their choice!

Does art influence society to violate women?”

A regular blogger Sumit Saurav in one of his article put forward this question to which he said no. Well, why not? It definitely does!

In all major platforms of articulation be it cinema, literature, sculptures or paintings, women are either objectified or disparaged. Centuries ago when Shakespeare wrote the ‘Taming of the Shrew’, it went out to give a message that women can be overpowered, subjugated and oppressed. The same was shown in Indian cinema for years. Some need a mention here like ‘Gharana Mogudu’, ‘Bhanumati gari mogudu’, ‘Atha ki yamudu, ammai ki mogudu’, ‘Nari Nari Nadumurari’ etc. How many movies do we have, which show the socializing of a rape victim? The famous erotic sculptures of the Khajuraho Temple are a unique variety of their own. No other place in world has evidence of such revealing depictions on stone. Would curious teenagers have the mind to appreciate them in artistic sense? They would rather decipher them as Sex Education in its literal meaning!

Today, we have enormous access to obscenity. We have 24×7 media and spend hours together on the internet. It is now normalized to see less clothed women on hoardings, commercials and of course the famous irrelevant item songs called for ‘entertainment’. That’s a continuous feeding and imposing on young minds. Parents definitely feel uncomfortable when their little daughters dance to Chikni Chameli, imitating the moves and adopting them, irrespective of how catchy the music may be. Sadhguru of the Isha Yoga Society says- “In most minds, women means an accumulation of body parts. The problem is rooted in investing too much on physicality of life”. The advertising of women’s sexual desires through the salacious deodorant ads does inform men and makes them want to buy the product. The advertisement somehow makes public feel powerless without possessing the products they market.

I recommend you watch these amazing videos on ‘commodification’ of women. The videos show a shocking analysis on how women are represented by the market forces in music videos, advertisements, magazines and video games.

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Video 2

Jean Kilbourne, senior scholar at Wellesley Centre for Women says that the obsession for woman’s body and appearances is so much patronized that the value of any achievements made by women depends primarily on how she looks. I could not help but accept it due to the recent speculations that sparked around Hina Rabbani Khar.

Following her ‘warmongering’ comment I came across an article in The Speaking Tree which says she has transformed into a Hawk from a Dove. She has always been put under scrutiny for her choices right from the bag she carries, the goggles she sports, her dominating voice to decisions she makes for the country. Don’t you think she has the right to make a choice on how she wants to look when she moves out?

This shows how much women intellectuals are discouraged. Most call it an irresistible combination of beauty and brains. Chetan Bhagat had tweeted-“Hina Rabbani, So beautiful, so shrewd”. A parody site, in.com had proposed a funny solution to resolve the LoC issue by making Aishwariya Rai Bachchan the External Affairs Minister to make Hina agree to our demands! How ridiculous!

Women have been deprived of representation way back when studies around life sciences had started. The Second Sex, written in 1949 by Simone de Beauvoir shows how women were classified or I’d rather say marginalized as ‘the other’. The book says- “The body of man makes sense in itself quite apart from that of woman, whereas the latter seems wanting in significance by itself … Man can think of himself without woman. She cannot think of herself without man. And she is simply what man decrees; thus she is called ‘the sex’, by which is meant that she appears essentially to the male as a sexual being. For him she is sex – absolute sex, no less. She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she is the Other.

Women were never regarded as an autonomous human being. She was made out of the bone of man. Well, even if it was vice-versa unavoidably half of the human race has to struggle for representation and power.

A ray of hope emerged in the darkness…

The women’s movement now has gone beyond India. It has taken a global shape; thanks to Eve Ensler, the lady behind the famous play ‘The Vagina Monologue’ who carried out the world wide event, V- Day as part of her efforts to break the taboo on words like vagina and clitoris. February 14th was a big day for all the women who have chosen to march for their dignity, respect and representation. I pray this fire never goes down and compels every sector to bring reforms and call off the objectification of women for capitalizing the economy.

Photo Credit: martinak15 via Compfight cc

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