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Portrayal of Women in Indian Media

          bollywood poster

          Movies, or for that matter media in general, are often said to be the reflection of the society. Or at least that’s what majority of people in India consciously or unconsciously tend to believe. While it’s arguable whether the media truly reflect the society or not, there’s no doubt that media have a big sociocultural influence on the society.

          The way women are shown in movies these days is hardly different than those before a decade or a few. Women have been shown to consider being an ideal homemaker as the goal of their life. Leaving few exceptions, movies of recent times have hardly shown an ‘ideal woman’ doing anything but being a housewife. Even in those movies where a woman is shown to have more decision power in hand than her husband, the wife is almost always portrayed in bad light. And at the end of the movie, she is slapped by her husband. Her husband also tells her, ‘I should have slapped much earlier’. The woman realizes her ‘mistakes’, repents of the same and the movie ends when everyone appears to be happy.

          Before a few days while watching such a scene from a movie, one of my roommates actually said, ‘This is the reason why a woman should not be given power. She doesn’t know how to use it.’

          As far as showing women in advertisements is concerned, things seem to have only worsened over time. In most of the advertisements of recent times too, a woman is either washing clothes and utensils, cooking, serving food to family members or trying to make her husband feel better who’s at that time reading a newspaper or suffering from cold. A woman does all this even when she’s headache or backache. These advertisements arguably encourage sexism. They reinforce the old belief that a woman is supposed to forgo her own comfort and keep on doing household chores without getting tired.

          The same has remained true for the soap operas of earlier times and of recent times. While in many of these soaps, a woman has more decision power than their male counterparts, it’s very difficult to come across so many such families in real life. Moreover, those women who wear modern clothes and appear very confident more often than not have bad intentions than their conservative and not-so-modern counterparts.

          I recently come across this: ‘The media should refrain from portraying women as commodities and sex objects.’ The media still portray women as objects showing whom in certain way can catch the attraction of people. It’s very amusing to see a woman in advertisements for products like cement.

          Media not only portray women as mere commodities, they often unintentionally stereotype women. And this can be very dangerous, I believe.

          This post was written by Haresh and originally appeared on his blog The way I see it

          Image Source: daniel n. reid

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          2 Responses to Portrayal of Women in Indian Media

          1. I agreee with what you said… how about phrases which are so popular in movies that are used to insult men ”jaa choodi pehen ke baitha reh” (go wear bangles (like a woman), you useless fellow…)..
            women are never portrayed as individuals with dreams or goals..they are always portrayed as love interests or sex- objects. Its time for change.

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