Fans of Ekta Kapoor‘s soap Ye Hai Mohabbatein are using #EndYHM to get the producer to pull the plug on the show. The fans and critics alike are upset about a scene from a recent episode, where the lead character is shown calling the female protagonist banjh or infertile. He even goes ahead to pray that she remains a banjh in her next lives.

People were expecting that Kapoor would apologise for the insensitive scene and promise to make sure such a thing never happened again. Many were also expecting that she would indeed put them out of their misery and pull the plug on Ye Hai Mohabbatein, before it went bad beyond redemption.

Kapoor, however, has made it evident that all she cares about is TRP. And how this insensitive scene is an insult to womankind, is not her business.

Stop watching what hurts your sensibilities

Millions of women around the world struggle with infertility. But in India, the cultural pressure to bear an heir makes this struggle even more traumatic. Women get divorced, abandoned and even publicly humiliated for not being able to bear a child. In a country where their identity and existence is firmly attached to their womb, life is hell for women who cannot become mothers.

The society they live in makes it a point to remind them of their failure at the basic task of their gender, with every morsel they eat. Women are branded bad luck for their matrimonial household. Many from conservative families have to live in constant fear of being abandoned or sent back to their parental home on grounds of being “defective”.

How does one try to change this mentality when a popular television character goes to curse his screen wife that she should remain infertile for next seven lives? Is he saying that infertility is the worst thing that could happen to a woman?

Kapoor is a clever producer who understands the mindset of her audience very well. She doesn’t make daily soaps to usher in a social change. They are in fact a mirror of our social mindset. This is the reason why the audience is so hooked to her brand of entertainment. There is an emotional and cultural connection which makes them come back for more. It doesn’t matter if it is right or wrong.

So the blame, in fact, lies with those who keep watching such regressive shows. Producers like Kapoor only understand the language of TRP. Hence there is no point in trending #EndYHM. The show’s critics should trend #StopWatchingYHM instead and urge people to boycott it.

Viewers need to unite and pressurise show-runners to stop serving misogyny in the name of entertainment.

Such scenes not only demean women but also encourage people to spew venom against women. Because if a show’s hero can get away with it, then so can they. This scene could also set up a dangerous trend. It would lead to normalisation of verbal abuse of women.

But how many viewers actually do want things to change? How many find degrading content on Indian television inappropriate? Sadly, looking at the TRP of shows like Ye Hai Mohabbatien, it seems that the majority is vastly okay with misogyny on the idiot box, as it imitates reality. However, those who are against insensitive contest do need to take a stand and stop watching the show. It may not curtail the show’s life. But a dip in TRP will be a better communicator of the audience’s mood, than outrage on Twitter.

Pic Credit: Asian Age

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own

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