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Where Does The Buck Stop?

Friday, December 21, 2012
By Deepa Gahlot

There is an unprecedented rage and anguish at the horrific incident in Delhi, which people can’t even bring themselves to call rape, because the savagery that followed is too terrible to think about.

Theatre veteran Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal posted this on Facebook and it needs thinking about. “Bollywood would help the cause of men thinking its ok to rape if they refrained from having item numbers with one attractive girl dancing and 20 men along with the hero, with their tongues hanging out pretending to paw her, or leer at her. Have item numbers for sure... just not these guys making these obscene gestures and facial contortions. It gives the male public the idea that it’s hip or hep (or whatever you call it) to do that!!  Or else, like cigarette warnings, put up a warning that it is not the proper behaviour to follow in real life. Okay. Bring it on...I know I am going to be flayed for this post, but it’s been on my mind for a very long time. I cringe when i see this.” Nobody could be as naïve as to allege that films or the media directly influence the behaviour of men who are already conditioned by their upbringing to disrespect women or use violence against them.

However, it cannot be denied that Bollywood (and mass media of all kind), their wild lifestyle and commercial mindset has regrettably pervaded all strata of society; and across all media, the portrait of women is overly sexualized, and if a woman does not fit into that mould, she become a figure of pity or contempt.
In 1991, writer Susan Faludi had written of the “Backlash” against women following the gains of the feminist movement.  And we can see that it is happening in India and is being fuelled by films and the media.

Why is nobody outraged that little girls are made to dance on TV, wearing skimpy clothes and gyrating to suggestive lyrics; why don’t all our guardians of Indian culture emit a squeak when at religions occasions like Ganpati and Navratri or at weddings, vulgar item songs are blared at full volume and many time, drunk men are seen dancing on the streets and leching at women.

At one time there were protests when newspapers or magazines carried photos of under-dressed women, now women in lingerie are pouting at you from the front pages of the papers every morning.  How many parents or educators are enlightened enough to raise their kids in a gender-free environment when women are objectified all the time?

How can kids not are desensitised to violence when movies and the media are constantly glorifying criminals. How can parents teach their kids not to smoke, drink or do drugs, when a party hard lifestyle is being sold so aggressively?

Unfortunately, those who try to point out the pernicious effects of this in your face depravity, they use idiotic means and get branded as moral police. Everybody will whine that society is going to the dogs, decency is dead, morality is a joke, but they will not do anything to clean up their own act.  They will make their kids dance to cheap songs, watch porn, leer at women, criticise censorship and then wonder why young men today are so aggressive and violent.

When kids go berserk with guns in the US, Quentin Tarantino is also put on the mat along with other anti-gun control loonies. How come our showbiz and media are not hauled over the coals along with law enforcers? They cannot escape responsibility.

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