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Misogyny And Patriarchy In Indian Media: What The Times Of India And Dainik Bhaskar Want You To Think

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By Sonakshi Samtani:

If you thought that Salman-Shahrukh patch up and the royal baby stories were the lowest that journalism could reach, well you got it wrong. Apparently, The Times of India, the world’s largest selling English-language daily, finds it very appropriate to publish full fledged articles titled ‘7 things you didn’t know about women’s breasts’ or the very recent ‘Funny, Weird facts about women’. The latter being called ‘the worst thing ever’ by the Huffington Post, garnering criticisms both from the readers and news agencies worldwide.

This is the photo that accompanied The Times Of India story on "Weird, funny facts about women."
This is the photo that accompanied The Times Of India story on “Weird, funny facts about women.”

Mr. Biben Laikhuram, the author of these disasters they call articles, is a Delhi University graduate and his areas of interest range from women’s breasts, their virginity or the ‘sex positions they would die for’. Interestingly, the editorial policy of TOI seems starkly incongruous to their recently launched ‘I Lead India’ initiative, which calls upon the youth to take the initiative and stand up for issues like women’s security, gender equality, traffic management etc. Mr Biben’s articles, however, impose and assert the same skewed gender stereotypes that India, as a country, needs to get rid of. The set of ‘featured stories’ on the TOI website, have remained unchanged for over a year and a half now, all three of which claim to help women get a flat tummy or a tiny waist.

One of the articles on their website, again by the same author, tells us ‘the great things about being a virgin woman’, supported by the notions of morality and how men love it when their partner is ‘untouched’ and ‘pure’ before marriage. However, all of these articles have been removed from the TOI website due to the controversy surrounding his latest piece.

Trashy articles like these are published with eye-catching headlines so as to keep the readership strong. It reflects the pathetic social mindset which deems it fine to objectify women and publish plagiarized content, so as to keep the circulation going. Yes, most of Laikhuram’s work is partly or entirely plagiarized, and is copied from various blogs on the internet. This raises serious concerns over the content millions of people read every day. This state of journalism in India answers many questions we ask about the differential treatment of women in the society. If the masses are subjected to such pieces on an ever day basis, we see the reason as to why the efforts to propagate gender equality are taking so long to show fruitful results.

While the recent JNU incident left the student and teacher community shocked, Dainik Bhaskar, an Indian Hindi daily, goes ahead to publish the story with headlines reading “…the girlfriend even had sex with the guy and then started mocking him”. The correspondent himself comes to a conclusion that the girl had slept with the boy, even though there were no such records found, and irresponsibly goes on to project an off-center perspective of the issue. Given the patriarchal outlook of the masses in the country, an average person would read the article presuming that the girl, having compromised her so called ‘morals’, was at fault. Moreover, for those thousands who skim through the headlines to get their dose of daily news, a headline is enough to do the damage and the understanding of the actual issue would remain distorted.

Dainik Bhaskar

Spiro T. Agnew, the 39th vice-president of the USA once said “Some newspapers are fit only to line in the bottom of bird cages”. With ever increasing articles about weight management, beauty and opinion pieces that are utterly demeaning and project irrelevant gender stereotypes, most of the leading news papers and channels are bringing news dissemination to all new lows.

For a country struggling to attain gender equality and safety for women, gender insensitive journalism and mass media would divest the efforts from reaching the masses. It is imperative for these mass media agents to reflect upon their ethics, exercise social responsibility and work towards creating a more sensitized environment instead of indulging in irresponsible commercialization of news and facilitating a regress.

Facebook link to the Dainik Bhaskar article

Link to the actual article, weird, funny facts about women, from where it was copied

Link to “Great things about being a dimwit”, an article thrashing Biben Laikhuram’s original on women and virginity

Huff post article 

You must be to comment.
  1. Heema

    Girl, you spoke my mind! I did come across these articles and couldn’t face-palm myself hard enough. I’ve long given up on TOI. The comments below its news items make me lose faith in humanity.

  2. Neha Mayuri

    I absolutely agree with you Sonakshi. Journalism has stooped to a level which is beneath anyone’s dignity, in order to grab the reader’s attention and the traffic of the site, esteemed papers like TOI and The Dainik Bhaskar have left no stone unturned to objectify women. This is a shame.

  3. Raj

    Fascism much? While the Dainik Bhaskar article is clearly out of line and the paper deserves to be severely punished, what is wrong with the TOI articles? Is expressing your thoughts a crime because it doesn’t fit with politically-correct talking points?

  4. Prashant Kaushik

    I echo your sentiments and agree that journalism is falling off in standards. But, what WAS the NEED to use the SAME VULGAR PICTURE Which you yourself are criticizing ? I mean you are yourself indulging in what you are accusing the TOI and Danik Bhaskar of. If your purpose was only reporting, you could have used a smaller or blurred version but instead you went on to use the same photo which you are condemning. Sorry to say, but I dont see much of difference between you and TOI in this respect.

    1. Raj

      You mean the girl on the toilet?

    2. SS

      Simple! To show what TOI has actually posted.

      Blurred version! Really!?

  5. Bijaya Biswal

    That was some great article 🙂 Keep it up.We would be waiting for more such awesome articles

  6. Shivangi Singh

    Brilliant piece! Way to go!

    1. Raj

      Could you translate and summarize those articles?

  7. Dr Rathna

    Very nicely written.Infact written in a very cultured manner.It can be more scornful also.What all the women on earth doing about these headlines?

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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