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Absent - The working woman in Indian media

Why not the working woman!!!
The media presents a very skewed picture of women in India. Take the case of the portrayal of women in serials which is strongly and evidently worthy of condemnation. My question to the makers, producers and creative brains behind these productions is: Where is the working woman in the media? If we take the case of serials/daily soaps on major TV channels, most women characters are portrayed as housewives. An upcoming serial on Zee TV is titled "Aaj ki Housewife hai ...sab jaanti hai'. Though, I am not familiar with the plot of this particular soap opera, my disagreement is with the very unidimensional depiction of women, be it in soaps, advertisements, cinema or any other medium for that matter. The traditional Indian society has been such that it places prominence on the role of women in the household. It is a woman who nurtures the house and transforms it into a home. However, with globalization and the advent of modernization, women have been bold enough to not restrict themselves to household chores and venture out in the society to occupy professional roles. But is this reality being depicted by the media, falsely claiming to be the mirror/reflection of the society. From what we see in these daily soaps and mainstream movies, I gather that only a 'housewife' is a good woman whereas a 'working woman' is shown to be evil and one who has malicious intentions. Of course, I do not blame the media in entirety. In the so called traditional values of our country, a woman's place was seen to be in the household and not in the public domain. She was though of as a being who has no dreams and ambitions of her own, who is not an individual in the first place. This is reflected even in our family systems, wherein till date, it is the woman who is expected to make sacrifices after marriage ... more so in terms of her profession. So, in a serial on Sony entertainment TV, 'Love marriage vs Arranged marriage', Shivani, who is a successful wedding planner by profession is expected to leave her job, if she wants to get married to the love of her life. Her future mother-in-law places this condition upon her and absurdly enough the girl obliges by leaving her job, which is supposed to bail her parents out of a financial crisis. Every time she thinks of resuming it, her mother-in-law is upset and pronounces in the most archaic of manner: "Hamare ghar ki bahuein bahar kaam nahi karti". This is so silly and demonizes the working woman. This is something that Indian houses still believe in .... that the housewife is superior and the working woman is an evil lady who does not care for her family! I ask why?????? Of course my purpose is not to demean the housewife but we have to admit that the amount of work and effort that the Indian working woman puts in is far more superior than the housewife.... she manages both fronts ....the home and the work front .... so why not give her the due credit ... why be ashamed of being a working woman. Proclaim it proudly! If you see the kind of films that we make or the kind of advertisements that are shown on TV, most depict women in the role of housewives/home-makers. Why? Can't women be both? Are they not equipped to handle both domains efficiently? We have to give due credit to the working woman and the media ought to take the lead in this by showing woman in more productive roles and not just as 'item girls' or perfect home-makers'. There is more to women than such stereotypical presentation. Also, this portrayal will not be achieved until and unless, the Indian society learns to respect the working, professional woman who works hard to make ends meet for her family. The working woman is an epitome of independence and decision making which we need to accept. Many a times, on social networking websites, I have seen posts and messages praising the housewife, calling her selfless and virtuous and sacrificing ... why are such messages not posted for working woman, are they any less?? The working woman is completely absent from media space, give her a voice at least!!!

Comments

  1. Great article! How do you think television will change over time? Do you already see progress? Any thoughts on film and media's responsibility to change the portrayal of women? If so, is it up to government or individual film makers? Having just returned to the US from India, I'm curious how film and social consciousness relate. Does film simply reflect societies morals, or can it be a two way street. Can film change society? Thank you for all of your insights! Love the blog :)

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  2. Great article! How do you think television will change over time? Do you already see progress? Any thoughts on film and media's responsibility to change the portrayal of women? If so, is it up to government or individual film makers? Having just returned to the US from India, I'm curious how film and social consciousness relate. Does film simply reflect societies morals, or can it be a two way street. Can film change society? Thank you for all of your insights! Love the blog :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the compliments ..actually I receive very few comments on my blog and hence was surprised to see ur comment.. well Jillian I am not much into TV research nevertheless what I can convey with some sense of certainty is that TV as a medium in India is very very commercial and profit oriented. This was not the case earlier when TV was utilized for nation building and national integration. So, in essence there is no progress in that sense..there is only deterioration. Films and media according to me are the major culprits which portray women in the most demeaning manner and hence this influences public culture very adversely. No films do not simply reflect society ..they influence society to a great extent ...of course the onus lies more on the civil society to rectify this malaise... films are more a medium for entertainment in India and they are not expected to even perform their social role ... they just create a world of fantasy and illusion ...

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