Little do we sight out the problem when the men around us claim us as theirs. Not perhaps in a physical contract but claiming in their social circles how a woman belongs to them. ‘Teri bhabhi hai’ ‘She belongs to me’ ‘I saw her first, so I am gonna ask her out’ and various other such remarks which they wrap in seemingly romantic gestures but remove the outer covering and it reeks of entitlement. But why do men treat women as territories to be conquered? Why can’t women be seen as individuals of their right?
In a very casual fashion, we internalise that there is nothing wrong in claiming a person as yours. From romantic partners putting out words like SHE IS MINE under their couple photo, to a young boy telling his friends TERI BHABHI HAI whenever a girl passes around them. The objectification here is so utterly invisible that rather than calling it out we praise it.
This borderline harassment is even more overlooked when the woman is married. Husbands call their wives a trophy that they can win. In no respect, it is a compliment to the women, but rather an insult. The woman is seen in the light of a shiny prize meant to be won.
As always Bollywood helps perpetuates these stereotypes. They even have a song titled the same ‘Teri bhabhi hai’ and no it’s not cool to tap feet over the tunes or perhaps hum the lines as a way to impress a girl. You have to see with your eyes open that it’s an agenda pushed aggressively to claim ownership over the female body and song after song overlooking consent.
You remember cringing yourself over Kabir Singh, a 179-minute display of everything that is wrong with our society. ‘Vo meri bandi hai’ said Kabir in one of the other problematic scenes of the movie. No, the music in the background wasn’t enough to hide the problem in that shot. The hero claimed his rights over the love interest at first sight. Believe me, it’s not romantic, perhaps scary that a man warns the entire college to lay off “his” girl. As if rather than a human she is his and his claimed property alone, and no one else is to as much as look at her with desire.
Suggested Reading: Only “Bad” Women Have Sexual Desires. When Will This Stereotype Go Away?
Women have been objectified for long in popular culture and we have been ok with it. Kings and kingdoms gave away their princesses so that another war could stop. Try remembering those Indian Period dramas that you watched and question yourself, was that war for love or simply to claim a woman as theirs. Yes, you know the answer and so much so that you have enough examples to name.
Here we are approaching to rule out multi-planetary life, and in the same world, we are claiming our women as objects. Female objectification has to stop, you can’t ridicule the status of half of the world’s population into objects which can be used as per your wish.
This can only stop when we introspect and ask ourselves why is it so easy to invade a woman’s boundaries. Why do we normalise it rather than calling it out? We have to start believing that both men and women have agency and their likes and dislikes need to be respected.
The views expressed are the author’s own.