I’m an avid watcher of NDTV’s “We The People“. Barkha Dutt, the host of the debate show, talks about current affairs with six to eight panellists who are invited for every discussion. The panel usually consists of politicians, social scientists, academicians, social workers and celebrities, depending on the topic of discussion. There is also an audience which often poses questions directly to the panellists.
Of course, the issue of rape in India was a hot topic which lead to several episodes surrounding it from capital punishment to the portrayal of women in Indian cinema. The topic of Bollywood item songs came into the picture because people were linking the objectification of sexually attractive Indian women in racy songs that have little or nothing to with the Indian film to the rise of rape across the country.
I don’t know how I feel about that statement. To say that there is a direct correlation between the portrayal of women in India movies/item songs and rape is too simplistic. But there is no denying the fact that the hypersexualization of women in media contributes to gender violence among other factors like rape culture, patriarchy, sexism etc. It’s all those things working together that accounts for India’s ridiculously high rape rates.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman being sexual on screen, but the manner in which it is conveyed is important to note. Shabana Azmi speaks to this perfectly: “But when we talk about item numbers, there are item numbers and then there are item numbers, and it would be wrong to make sweeping generalizations that all of them are bad. When you have an item number like Beedi Jalaile, for instance, which is based in our folk tradition and is robust and really celebrating women’s sensuality, that’s welcome and completely different from some of the item numbers today that are downright debasing. It is in the intention of the filmmaker. It is perfectly possible to be completely vulgar with a woman fully dressed, and it is perfectly possible to be artistic if the woman is completely naked. Voyeuristic camera angles and vulgar lyrics do not empower a woman.”
Watch the debate here: Shabana Azmi FTW!
Tags: barkha dutt, beedi, bollywood, dance, debate, femininity, film, hypersexualization, india, item songs, media, ndtv, rape, rape culture, sexuality, shabana azmi, we the people, women in media
I don't like my body hair.
I religiously get rid of it whenever I see it sprouting.
But I don't think I'll ever know if the reason for why I hate it is because I genuinely dislike body hair in general or whether I've been conditioned to hate it by our society's cultural aesthetic on female body hair.
I had the sudden urge to write about this topic when I remembered a very random memory. A male friend of mine was hanging out with a group of people, and it was out there while they were all sitting on the grass when he noticed that one of the girls he was with had a full blossom of toe hair going on. Wild, long toe hair. He was immediately repulsed. And then he came back and told his friend about how gross it was to see toe hair on a girl.
Surprise guys! Girls have toe hair! And hair above their butt cracks! And upper lip hair, and side burns, and hair on the backs of their thighs and hair everywhere else too. Just Like You Do.
This post is in defense of all girls who don’t mind keeping their armpit hair and don’t really think about the hair on their knees. With the increasing pressure to make it all disappear, I want you to stand tall. Don't conform. Don't give in to what everyone expects of you, don't fall under the pressures of what is normalized to be 'womanly', and don't, for the love of all things good, do it for guys like that male friend I mentioned. Because if it's okay for guys like him to walk around sporting a full untamed bush of underarm hair, then it sure is okay for you to have some harmless toe hair.
As for me, well.. maybe a few a days of prickly legs isn't that bad.
"No matter how many delicate scratches and how many streaks of dirt women in movies acquire after weeks of surviving in a war zone or battling zombies, they NEVER sprout even a hint of leg hair. God forbid. The camera zooms in for an intimate moment with their trembling, full lips and welling eyes, and the skin between the bottom of the nose and the upper lip is as pristine and smooth as marble."
— Mirror, Mirror: On Femininity And Body Hair