Women Caravan (odyssey)

From liberalization to raunchiness!!!!

It all began a few years ago when I saw the raunch culture invading our lives. In a country like India, where women who were once considered to be the backbone and preservers of society, have now become liberated to the extent that they hire male strippers for their parties.

I would turn on the television only to find ‘babes’ dressed up in tiny school uniforms grooving on swanky remixes of old Hindi songs. I’d change the channel and see Rakhi Sawant knocking down the allegations fired by Public Prosecutor Rajat Sharma on his show Aap Ki Adalat.

Often while walking down the street I’d come across teens and young women – and at times those wild fifty-something ‘Aunties’ sporting body-hugging T-shirts and skinny jeans with stilettos and gaudy make-up.

What Britney Spears did a decade ago by becoming increasingly popular and increasingly unclothed, quickly following her footsteps was none other than the ‘Rude Boy’ singer and teenage diva Rihanna. With her suggestive eyes and flawless features many look up to her as a role model. Not only has she been in news for this issue but many others have followed including magazine shoots, twitter updates and interviews that reveal the singer’s raunchy side. Regardless of these affairs, Rihanna is not afraid to broadcast her dirty side.

And not to forget, the recent Indian counterpart, Poonam (Dabangg) Pandey, who after going to the media promised to streak down and ‘bare it all’ if Team India won the World Cup, had sent ripples across the nation. Complying with a court order, an FIR was lodged against the Kingfisher model on the charge of obscenity.

Watching these developments, I pondered what could possibly be the reason behind such blight. A prominent journalist and feminist author Ariel Levy coined the term ‘raunch culture’, in her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture where she revealed the effects that the hyper-sexualisation of American society had on women’s progress.

After constantly reading things in the papers, over blogs and forums, it struck me that may be it’s got to do with the increased need to be seen or heard. Women are under new pressures to survive. It is majorly due to increased influx of westernization in our culture that such changes have come to the fore.

The most visible consequence is the narrowing of standards of beauty for young women. Rates of eating disorders and cosmetic surgery are soaring high, given that the glitzy images of models and actresses projected by the mainstream media depict very uniform images of women as thin, classy and ‘perfect-figured’. Actresses like Shilpa Shetty, Bipasha Basu, and Mallika Sherawat coming up with their Fitness DVDs has added to the already existing problem.

A colossal change is seen in the attitudes, of not only young girls but also their parents and peers. There was a time when seeing a model clad in a bikini would embarrass us in front of our parents. But now it does not make of a much difference if parents send their daughters off to night-clubs all decked up in short cocktail dresses.

Although majority of objectification is of women, emerging trends show the commodification of men. A quote on a girl’s T-shirt that reads ‘Boys Will Be Toys’; rates of the sexual harassment of men by women are rising (as shown in the film Aitbaar); violent pornography, et al is being pegged as an integral piece of ‘women’s empowerment’.

Unfortunately, this reversal of sexism is not the solution; it is an arguably lazy, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ counter to Misogyny with Misandry. Though it is understandable that raunch finally makes the sexes equal – but ‘equally exploited’ is not something for which members of a functional society should strive.

Overall the women folk today have become a lot more lose lipped on stuff that used to be kept private. Here we are in 2011 where girls freely call themselves various names. It’s in the media. It’s on t-shirts. And everyone just seems to think its okay. I’m not stating it’s the majority of women, or that they need to be “stopped”. All I’m saying is that one must know their limits and act better. Having dressed-up nearly as a bimbo, what are they exactly trying to put forth that by such an attitude they would get someone down to admire and love them?

If she dresses-up in a party full of such people then it would not make much difference but if in public then she would always be subjected to scrutinizing eyes. The cases of molestation, sexual harassment and rape are anyway on the rise due to this constant bombardment of sex, nudity and violence in the media. So I’ll ask you all a question that is it only men who are responsible for such heinous acts? Or are women equally playing their parts in getting themselves into trouble.

Shreya Bothra

A graduate in Journalism & Mass Communication, it is recently that she developed this habit of writing. Apart from scribbling her thoughts, what interests her the most is Dancing, Reading, Travelling & Photography. An avid learner, she likes indulging herself into something new every now and then. Also, she is a firm believer in the phrase; “Live & Let Live”.