“मेरे होते कोई और करे तेरे बारे गौर
यह न होगा किसी तौर चाहे चले छुरियाँ “
(How can anyone think about you when I’m here
This won’t happen even if knives get used)
This is one amongst those numerous Bollywood songs which very conveniently legitimise the usage of violence bit by bit ( in this context to ‘woo’ his lady love). However, what we forget in the process is that in today’s world the usage of force or violence under any circumstance is not just disagreeable but also unlawful .
It isn’t only this way that violence is justified – as the perpetuation of good over the evil. It is often also associated as sexist slurs for women, depicting their ‘weakness’ as the female sex and of course, ways for women conformity to draconian societal norms.
We cheer at heroes stalking their lady loves and in continuous insecurity and competition with another man to ‘win’ over the woman as a barbaric and pre-medieval way of showing affection and love . The desire of the man to ‘own’ a woman and objectifying her with or without her wish had to be a crucial part of films for a very long time in order to earn money.
And the ones with a comparatively more realistic and unbiased, not-so-stereotypical plot could never bear well at the box office. You know the kind of movies I’m talking about, don’t you? One where the lady reads and has a voice of her own which she raises when questioned.
The personal space of a woman has never been considered significant enough . The absolute usage of the film maker’s ‘freedom of speech and expression’ and ‘depiction of true facts’ idea has influenced people of India into believing that violence and force is acceptable in the name of love .
A new trend these days is one where certain movies, which claim to have a feminist point of view, resort to violence as a way of portrayal of a feminist woman who is independent and knowledgeable of her worth and position in the society . Somewhere, this notion has been implanted in our minds – usage of coercion equals the bravado of the character .The viewers watching the movie and supporting the particular character legitimize it to an even greater extent.
In a country like India, Bollywood has always been very consistent in influencing the masses into believing certain ideals and denying its role in our everyday affairs will be absurd and unwisely. In our country, where violence is as pertinent in our everyday affairs as breathing, drinking or any other primary physical actions for survival, the least the television can do is to not promote it.
Moreover, the point to be more emphatic about is that this violence is directed towards very specific groups of people in the Indian context. This accounts greatly towards the women, the Dalits, the minorities, certain racial , lingual and ethnic groups, etc. These acts of violence are carried out in the name of ‘social control’ in order to preserve a certain ‘social order’ and has been, as a result, creating a fundamental sense of terror in the minds of people.
65% of Indian men believe women should tolerate violence in order to keep the family together, and women sometimes deserve to be beaten. 38% of Indian men admit they have physically abused their partners. Bollywood movies have been excessively triumphant in putting forward movies that legitimise heinous crimes such as voyeurism, marital rape (which isn’t even a crime in Indian law books) and other similar actions.
Another very pertinent factor in this context is literacy. According to the 2011 National Census of India, only 74.04 % is the average literacy rate of India. Moreover, these numbers also account for an immense gender disparity with female literacy rate being 65.46% compared to a male literacy rate of 82.14%.
Movies in India have never been very consistent in throwing light on such issues of public concern. Only a very few movies have been concerned enough for delineation of characters which are enlightened and inclined towards education and the like.
Amongst these few, an even lesser number has been interested in portrayal of women who have been shown reading or writing . Nonetheless, in most cases women reading a book or trying to write has been mocked at and ample distractions have been put forward such as a good looking man dancing and singing, for example.
Furthermore, these movies have never failed to set a standard of perfection for women asserting their beauty or capability or worth. They have been successful in not only setting an ideal colour for a woman but also the paragon behaviour to be a paragon woman . And coming across women around me giving in to these wasteful stereotypes is even more heartbreaking.
Hypocrisy and true feminism, sadly, are situated on two different pillars and can never be merged into a single pot-pourri. One cannot be a feminist and use ‘fairness creams’ at the same time or be a proponent of equality and standardise dress codes for women.
The faster women are able to understand their worth in their real lives, the faster will this ever drawn system of patriarchal norms be dismantled. Women have to mobilise themselves to a greater extent by stepping out and standing up for themselves.
Filmmakers need to be responsible and put an end to depiction of women in a way which is derogatory and demeaning . Moreover, violence can on no occasion be an acceptable format for being a ‘powerful’ character.
Intellectualism and depiction of a brainy character can go an equally long way. And the onus lies greatly on the historically privileged group of men who need to step up and clear the ‘feminism for women’ ideologue and be an ally to make the situation better.