A recent issue of Esquire magazine featured actor Tom Hanks being interviewed by actor and UN Goodwill ambassador for gender equality, Emma Watson. The discussion involved family, feminism and films. She put forth a question on the relatively poor screen space occupied by women in films (as of 2013 30% of all speaking characters) and the mere requirement of women to be either hot or nurturing/supportive in their on-screen roles.
Tom Hanks replied “Because the art form of cinema becomes less of an art, and no longer holds the mirror up to nature when women are reduced to being only hot or nurturing.” .
“When rules of gender and character dictate what stories are told and by whom……..
……. they are no longer fully dimensional humans”- Tom Hanks as told to Emma Watson
The LA times had reported that 76% of Academy voters were male. As far as we are concerned, even on the silver screen, Gender Equality has a long way to go. Cinema always seems to think that it mirrors the society and offers what the audiences “prefer” or “want”. Even in the “sexualization” battle it is always women who seem to be running in circles. We as women need not compete with men in essentially every square. But the squares of need and right to happy living?. Yes. Apart from the battle of Gender equality, we have battles to fight within ourselves, with the same sex group- The battle of confidence, of looks, of desirability so that we do not want to feel “Left out”. Most of our apparel lines and salon chains run this dogma, “Do not be left behind”.
In a documentary titled ‘INSIDE OUT’ on gender issues by TISS alumni and National award winning documentary makers Dhivya Cowasji and Shilpi Gulati, Shagufta Waqar Khan, one of the women featured in the film states -“For all the talk about women progressing, they seem to be going that much backwards”.
IS IT ALWAYS TRADITION PINNING US DOWN?
Human rights being denied on gender and traditional grounds have always been the point of concern and debate, the world over. We often blame old traditions and practices. But in the developed and developing worlds, where women are nurtured and encouraged, where education and access is equal for both sexes, when parents are equally welcoming of a daughter just like that of a son, who has made a woman feel vulnerable? who makes her feel she has to be white-skinned,skinny, and flawless? who makes the “barely-there” dress wearing girl the boldest of all?- Getting all the appreciation probably a talented woman director must equally get?.How have we become a good look obsessed society, just like animals discriminate members of their species?
Hollywood? Bollywood and the fashion industry?- What about us-The receiving end? How have we interpreted what is popularized?. We have made ourselves Anorexic with loads of hypocrisy.Period.
There are times when a job vacancy was filled by an attractive woman with moderate knowledge as opposed to a not-so-attractive woman with a lot of skill and knowledge- A Software and OS tutoring veteran.
“Ugly” is now an equally offensive world as calling a woman “a slut”. We women have accepted the transformation into an “Object of Beauty” first “A person” next.The object fights a mental battle every day and night inside of herself, in front of the mirror, in the untimely hours of Facebook, staring at other girls, hotter, more “followed” than her, waiting to be “Liked” by a 200 people to convince herself that she “Looks Great”.
” ‘Not-so- good looking’ girls are more likely to be publicly insulted or embarrassed as other girls in my college. Wherever they go,whatever they do, it is like you have to be beautiful to be respected or at least heard” – A second year B.com Student, Coimbatore who does not wish to disclose her name
THE “SANSKARI” FAMILY TO BLAME?
The thing that we so often lose perspective of is that perhaps it is not just age-old traditions and customs and what we call “the family pressure” that seems to be taking away a girl’s freedom, her free breath. Besides, it is family that raises the girl, gives her education, protects her interests, mentors, cares and presents to her what she would call community, aunt, uncle,cousin and celebration. She can demand “Freedom” from family. Not from the society. To get it from the society, she must either protest or plead. Should we waste time demanding from the society or begin change within ourselves first?.
The vulnerable image, the over-sexualization, the requirement to be “hot” so as to be accepted, the desire to be more “wanted” than to be loved, the need to be protected when beautiful, when being followed, when being stalked, when traveling, when alone, when one wants to be independent and free-all constitute the psycho-social issues that plague “The freedom of the modern woman”, which is more of safety, self confidence, discovering herself than just a permit to nightclubs and the freedom to smoke. (Forget morality here, when you pit up WANT against NEED).
FREEDOM OF THE SELF
Accepting oneself the way she is, is the primary step of all- if one feels one must.
Love yourself and do not let others define your preferences. Shop for yourself, not for your friend or popularity nemesis. Love your imperfections, they define you as much as your gifts.
“It would feel great if one day, I let my looks introduce me, Not define me entirely, for I am more complex to be merely scanned at.”-ANON
THE ABSOLUTE DEFINITION OF BEAUTY
The Dove Campaign for real beauty for our daughters who suffer from self-esteem issues. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dove_Campaign_for_Real_Beauty
Shades of India Line of clothing launches the Baiyu collection, featuring real life women achievers as diverse as Praveen Nair, Divya Cowasji and Anjum Singh from all age groups and backgrounds as opposed to super models setting novel role-model standards.
P.S . Love yourself.