By Souravi Sarkar:
I rarely watch television nowadays. And that is because of the utterly disdainful portrayal of women in Hindi television shows. The content has remained more or less the same since television serials started becoming popular in every household. The definition of an ideal woman has remained the same in their scripts – one who knows how to wear a saree properly; one who sacrifices her dreams to become the perfect housewife and takes care of every damn thing in the house to be on good terms with her mother-in-law; if she is infertile, she is often divorced and if she fails to prove herself, the entire neighbourhood crowd at her house to watch her getting humiliated.
A woman who smokes, drinks and parties is shown as a vamp. Sometimes the girl is forcefully married off to a stranger just because love marriages are against ‘Indian culture’. And no matter how much ‘sanskaar’ these families apparently have, they do not hesitate for a moment before they ask the man to divorce his wife and get married to another woman who satisfies the criteria of an ‘Adarsh Bahu’, or the ideal daughter-in-law.
These TV shows enjoy huge TRPs and carry on for God-knows how many years. And yet, the definition of woman as mere property, or her role of effectively being the maid in a household hasn’t changed. Bollywood movies often show handsome heroes whistling and singing as a woman passes by. They actually glorify eve-teasing as a romantic act to entice a woman, which in reality happens to be a criminal offense.
The content in television shows and cinema has a huge impact on the society. It ‘inflicts’ certain lessons on the youth and the old. While the Indian woman, just as women across the world, is breaking gender stereotypes by reaching new heights in the careers she chooses to pursue, she still fears to walk on the road alone at night. She fears she might be judged negatively by the society. When a woman is leched at in the streets, often the blame falls on her because she was wearing short clothes, or she was showing her cleavage. And, if possible, the people might come up with the stupidest of explanations to present her as the culprit.
When the Censor Board dutifully cuts scenes from movies like ‘Deadpool’ because of the raw humour in it, but never removes a single item song or movies promoting wrong messages, it just exposes their hypocrisy. I really appreciate a lot of directors and actors for bringing more women-oriented movies in the industry. Movies in which a woman is not just a prop or is there as mere eye-candy.
But the perspective about a ‘good girl’ still needs to change. The mindless television shows need to be stopped. The misogynistic Bollywood movies need to censored. Only then will Women’s Day find a meaningful place in our society. Otherwise, it’s just another day for me.