Birds Eye View 2017 from an Indian Feminist’s Lens
The year 2017 will be remembered worldwide as the year of woman empowerment and the rise of feminism globally. I hope that womankind continues winning the war against gender equality, with ample help from the men. But as an Indian Feminist, this year is a year of mixed feelings for me. Here, are a few incidents which stood apart for me.
India is still not ready for a #Metoo movement of its own.
The world was at its wit’s end as women started coming forward with accusations of sexual harassment against giant names from Hollywood and television in the US. We Indian women also joined the uprising and shared our personal stories of horror. Many of us were anticipating similar scandalous disclosure brewing in the depths of Bollywood. However, the volcano kept simmering but refused to blow up and scald the film fraternity.
Bollywood is NOT devoid of sexual harassment.
In fact, it seems like Bollywood decided to remain tight-lipped. It goes on to show that entitled men still yield a lot of power and pressure over the industry and the press.
They have managed to keep the focus on casting couch scandals which involve B-grade starlets and a handful of directors and casting agents. Hopefully in the future women in every field of work in Bollywood will be able to unmask serial harassers, who are still in power today.
If you question the society, there will be a reward on your head, and nose and other body parts.
Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati” was in trouble since the day the film was conceived. But braving destruction of sets and financial losses, his team somehow managed to complete the movie based. Just as Mr Bhansali was busy getting bashed left right and center by religious activists and CBFC, the lead of the film Deepika Padukone’s head found a price on it. Her fault? She said that “we have regressed as a nation”.
You can be a rich superstar, a national level badminton player, or a well-known face on ramps and in media around the world, but you cannot get away with questioning the ways of our culture.
Keep your bodies covered from head to toe
Popular Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan and actors Fatima Sana Shaikh and Esha Gupta were trolled on Twitter for allegedly posting obscene content. The cricketer has called anti-Islam for sharing his wife’s photographs in which her arms were visible. The Dangal actor had posted photos in beachwear from photo shoots. Also, Actor Priyanka Chopra faced flack for meeting the Prime Minister of India in a short dress.
As usual, the burden to uphold culture and morality (even men’s) falls on our bare shoulders. So better cover them up
We are spot jogging when it comes to progress in giving women equal rights
Every time we rejoice after winning a battle like getting a film passed by the censor, we get a reality check from such incidents. We have talked a lot about equal pay and gender equality in recent past, and here is my inference.
With every step women take forward to attain equal rights, the society takes a step back.
It’s like running on a treadmill. The years keep changing. We keep running and struggling to attain equality. But we are getting nowhere.
Should we stop struggling altogether?
No, earlier we were running alone, now we have more people on our side. For Indian feminism, this wasn’t a spectacular year as it was globally. But we will still count it as a win, because we have at least managed to raise our voices and stand up for each other. The pitfalls in our society and its atrocities against women are spread far and wide and run very deep into the roots of the nation. It would take a long time to eradicate the gender discrimination from our society. But we must keep struggling.
Our time will come sooner or later. Till then we should keep pushing forward and make sure that we grow in strength – physically, mentally and numerically.
Dr Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.