Folks! Are you sexist? Do you possess a demeaning attitude towards women? Are you the kind which strips them of their individuality and humanity and treats them like objects? Thanks to Deepika Padukone now we have an index to align our moral compass with. So what is demeaning to women? Deepika does not want us to objectify women. For too long men have treated women like commodities, meant to be bought and sold for a price and consumed at one’s pleasure. Thank heavens, we have a crusader for the rights of women now.
The one and only Deepika Padukone, watch her movies, love her ads, share her pictures on the social media but remember- ‘Never objectify women’. As Shakespeare would put it- ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’; I guess, in Deepika’s opinion the same is true of its reverse too- ‘sleaze lies in the eyes of the beholder’. Or as Shankaracharya put it, ‘when you see a rope in the dark and perceive it to be a snake, it does not transform itself into a snake. It was a rope and so it will remain; but in your perception it is a snake and it scares you.’ To each his own reality, depending upon his own moral constitution. Based upon this profound wisdom, all credit to Deepika for pointing us in this direction, let us now test whether your moral compass is aligned to Deepika’s enlightened axis or not? This test is in the nature of a questionnaire. A question, followed by two replies. One by an left-liberal whose moral compass is aligned to Deepika’s and a second reply by an imaginary entity I prefer to call a realist. Judge for yourself which one suits you-:
a) What would be your reaction if you saw the camera focussing upon Deepika’s ‘assets’ in one of her movies? Deepika’s enlightened left-liberal fans- ‘At times it is required of the camera to zoom in on certain ‘assets’ of the actress to do justice to the demands of the role. Does focussing on these body parts objectify Deepika? No! She is acting. The person in question is not real her, it is a fictitious character. In fact Deepika, very kindly agreed to let the director objectify her ephemeral body, to bring to fore the objectification of women that happens in the real world. The realist’s reply- ‘Deepika is letting the camera objectify her because sex sells and movie making is just about minting money. If it is about the character portrayed in the movie then why is it that an overwhelmingly large number of movies only depict women who are objectified by men? Aren’t other aspects of a woman’s character equally worthy of depiction?
b) What would be your reaction if you saw Deepika’s ‘item numbers’? Deepika’s enlightened citizen- ‘Item numbers are a creative expression of a woman’s sexuality. They allows the dancer to transcend the norms of patriarchy by letting women redefine what is acceptable for a woman and what is not. So Deepika in fact does dance numbers and will continue to do so, to challenge patriarchy. Kudos to her. The realist’s reply- ‘Ninety nine percent of items numbers have no organic relation to the plot of the movie. They exist because the producers thinks that if he can get the actress to throw her body organs about, a lot of drooling men would come to watch the movie. To be precise, it is all about making money through titillating men’s perverted desires.’
c) What would be your reaction if you saw Deepika walking the ramp? Deepika’s model citizens- ‘fashion shows foster creativity, they allow new fashion trends to capture the imagination of the masses and ramp models facilitate this noble endeavor.’ The realist- ‘If there is something called objectification, then this is it. Using a woman’s body like a hanger to sell merchandise. And if this is for the masses then why do the models not look like an average working woman? The hidden message that models like Deepika relay to the masses of women is that ‘if you want to look desirable this is what you ought to look like or there is something wrong with you.’ Models are guilty as charged for two grave crimes- 1. setting an artificial parameter of beauty that is oppressive to ninety nine percent of women. 2. Convincing us that it is we humans who need to fit into clothes and not vice versa. They are by the way, also responsible for promoting a curious disease called anorexia which is so class biased that it can exist only among the affluent. The majority in this world cannot afford anorexia.
Needless to say that in this imaginary conversation between Deepika’s imaginary left-liberal advocate and the hard headed realist, my sympathies lie with the latter. I leave it upon the readers to decide for themselves. What follows is a message from a very humble but hard-headed realist to Deepika – “You are every bit as responsible for the objectification of women as TOI. Your kind thrives on objectification of women”. We are all for the emancipation of women, but at the same time we refuse to buy the argument that the emancipation of women lies in their trying as hard as they can to present themselves as desirable objects to the lewd desires of perverted men. We usually define emancipation in much broader terms. If I were you, I would have just kept quiet and gone about my business of minting money and self consciously promoting my status as an eye candy.
Please do not confuse us, objectification by definition is not subjective, it is not a perspective, person centric. To precise your objectification is subjectively objective to us and we can see that you are complicit in it. And also please do not ever try to play the victim card– ‘young little missy trying to make it big in cinemas dominated by men’. We understand the plight of a poor twenty something woman, abandoned by the society and forced to trade her sexuality for a living. She is not well paid, has no legal protection and has to face constant abuse. You had no such compulsion, you chose a career in self objectification because you wanted money and fame. You possess both now so why complain? If this is a publicity gimmick for your next movie, I for one am still not watching it. I do not watch your movies, because every time I try to appreciate your acting, a certain entity called ‘Deepika’s body trying too hard to objectify itself’ overpowers it completely. Please spend some time contemplating upon all possible meanings of self-objectification before you accuse others of objectifying you.”
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Disclaimer: “The author by no means endorses the position of Times of India regarding this issue. All views are personal”