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“Pink” Reflects How The State Regulates Women, Their Bodies And Opinions

By Gauri Gupta

“Pink” is a compelling portrayal of patriarchal ideology where the “subject” strives to shout back with an acerbic élan.

The movie, with its unabashed indictment, comes as a roller costar ride for the viewers who are left with unanswered questions and shattered misogyny. The theme reflects the operation both of “Repressive State Apparatus” and “Ideological State Apparatus” in such a callous exhibition that an unapologetic woman is convincingly interpellated as a patriarchal subject.

The three protagonists of the film are young, unconventional girls who refuse to fit in the mould of ‘respectable’ women. The conflict in the drama is introduced by showing the audience the audaciousness of their autonomy and freedom, which finally leads to their vilification for a ‘wrong’ choice.

Their inebriated demeanour, unrestrained sexual frankness, and revealing clothes through the affirmation of “Ideological State Apparatus” brand them as ‘whores’. Through the movie, misogyny vehemently sees them responsible for the crime, which they committed, as an act of self-defense.

The vulnerability of the accused victim (Meenal) brings to the fore the conceptualization of stringent binaries, which are fixed in the society for the glorification of Madonna and repudiation of a ‘whore.’

The biopolitics of power and knowledge which Foucault mentions is exemplified here, where through the discourse of “Acchhi Ladki”, patriarchs in the film grab power in their hands to throw these women on the receiving ends.

When the autonomous, “Besharam” protagonist counteracts to accept defeat, she is forcibly assaulted to such a limit that she no longer could fight as an individual.

The film extends the viewpoint of Althusser that when ideology fails to combat the blazing resistance of an individual, RSA dreadfully forces her to subserviently become the subject of the state (patriarchy).

From police to the defence lawyer, they are seen as women of objectionable character who were selling their bodies to exhort money for their “naïve” clients.

The whole film subtly speaks volumes about the politicised nature of public spaces be it a woman buying vegetables, having a coffee, or simply walking in the park – her expression of autonomy is sexualized, and her sexualization becomes an invitation.

But here the situation is aggravated because these women grapple confidently with public spaces at night, which are completely male dominated.

Hence, caging of women becomes imperative for patriarchy because an act of loitering with its disruptive nature breaks the normative grounds of respectability where oppressive gender space formation is maintained.

The latter half shows how a courageous woman who was oblivious to the lethal nature of patriarchy is subsuming herself into it. She covers her face to obliterate her individuality because she knows that she has fallen to the darker side of the binary from where it is difficult to get back again into the light.

This vulnerability of a woman’s predicament is juxtaposed with the generous exemption of patriarchy for men. The perpetrator in the movie (Rajveer) has conveniently found “Achchi Ladki” as a suitable match whereas Falak loses her boyfriend because of her excommunication.

Rajveer exemplifies a typical misogynist who is ready to justify his crime by calling the accused women “Randis” who were asking for it. The film questions the idea of an ideal woman on whom the narratives of respectability are structured in contemporary India.

Another theme, which is raised in the film, is the minimization of women’s say in physical promiscuity. When and how long does a woman have a right to say NO? Can she? And if yes, how?

We see women who were tipsy, overtly welcoming and undauntedly feminine, and this unacceptable conduct came as heavy price as they were expected to be taken for granted. Meenal’s NO to Rajveer would never be legitimised because her revealing clothes, her behaviour and everything else about her were asking for it.

Once she musters courage and turns the male ego on its head, we as an audience are prepared for her devastation. We see her ululating, lamenting and being apologetic for her unbridled sexuality.

She knows and we know that even though she has won her case, she will no longer be deemed worthy of protection from the society. The “panopticon gaze” of patriarchal state apparatus will now be sowed in her head, and she would regulate her disruptive voice.

The ending of the film could be critiqued for its utopian ending, where we see them emerging as victorious survivors but reality soon flashes back in the mind where it is the ideology that will win, and individuality would lose.


Image source: YouTube

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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