Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lord Byron

I have never been more disturbed by a TV program.

What made the episode more distressing was its timing. It was aired right at the heels of this:

One would have thought that the inexcusable grabbing of a fully clad young girl, accompanied by a young man, on a public road would have outraged the media enough to immediately begin condemning it in strong words. Instead, my favourite channel strung up several rancid, flighty and apologetic notions together to present a high pitched Face the Nation episode flying a poorly framed mast, “Are women still treated as sex objects?” 

Of the panellists, the less said the better. Sangram was barely permitted a word in sideways; Pramila Nesargi swung from one irrelevant extreme to another and the only reasonable voice of Shefalee Vasudev couldn’t rise above the anchor’s shrill pitch. Distressingly, the anchor dismissed Sangram's genuine attempt at analysis as "being politically correct". No man, on the national TV would admit the truth, she declared, proving again the dictum that women are their own worst enemies.

In addition to talking about the role of media and our societal make up, the 
program blamed parents for not guiding their daughters properly. There was no talk of aiding boys in understanding the volatile debate.

Since I am such a sucker for good parenting talk, I listened hard and gathered that I should tell my young daughters the following:

For your own good, you have to dress up properly.
In the 21st century, YOU- the “so called modern woman"are still viewed as a sex object.
If you are properly dressed, why will the boys tease you?
Are you confusing liberation with being a sex symbol?
If you think of yourself as a modern woman, you are on a collision course with the Indian culture.
Don’t indulge in fashion. Fashion is in conflict with Indian reality.
Don’t use your sexuality ever!
You are urban women, living in warm rooms.Your problems are negligible because the rural women face far worse.

To add insult to injury, there was blatant misrepresentation of the phenomenon of Slutwalk. It was described as “young women wanting to come out on the streets to assert their right to wear what they pleased”.

So then: are women still treated as sex objects?! What a profound query!

Of course they are. Women and men have always been sexual creatures. The species did not create sex; it was the other way round. The catastrophe has been in the lopsided view of their sexualities, represented tellingly in Lord Byron’s words, “Man’s love is of man’s life, a thing apart; ‘Tis a woman’s whole existence”.

In other words, women are primarily ‘sexual’ beings while men can be said to have a life! 

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