Media and women

While I appreciate the sentiments in this post, I am troubled by the perceived black and whites. She writes for instance –

A very recent example would be an Indian website called Savita Bhabhi where a middle aged Indian housewife is seduced by everyone from the door-to-door salesman to her young neighbours. This works at two levels — the attempt to control a woman’s body in order to subjugate her, thereby allowing the man to subjugate her. By “domesticating” her body, the man and woman are then falling into the established “norms” of society — a notion that the media helps preserve. The woman is yet again portrayed as subservient while the man exercises complete control.

Savita Bhabhi breaks certain norms – not because it’s cartoon porn, but because if you actually bother to read the stuff, the woman seems more likely to be the one who seduces, or controls the situation. It’s not a man sleeping with various women, after seducing them – but a woman who is otherwise hailed as the very epitome of virtue (however pointless and disgusting that is) who chooses to break barriers around her. Nor does she always use sex as currency – she willingly wants her adventures.

If you look at the traditional manner in which virtue-laden archetypes are portrayed, especially in the film industry – their sexual experiences with other men inevitably are about submitting to sexual aggression. But in Savita Bhabhi the idea of “honor” or “guilt” rarely enters the context. And that’s exactly what the whole moral outrage was about. Had the comic been about Savita without the context of “Bhabhi” – the outrage wouldn’t have been as livid. Had she worn a halter top with jeans, instead of a sari, it would have been far less of an issue.

Yes, if you must dissect the underlying gender trade-offs in Savita Bhabhi they could actually turn out to be far more sinister. The idea has its problems. But choosing to fit everything in one theory doesn’t work. At all.

If you must mention Savita Bhabhi, I think the reactions of the moral-brigade to the website and its contents are far more worthy of gender morality analysis than the website itself. And then to understand, in that context, where various streams of media chose to place themselves. It doesn’t help anyone’s cause to treat media as a monolith.

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5 Responses to Media and women

  1. Reeti says:

    Dear Neha,
    thank you for your comments. I used Savita Bhabhi as an example because in the cartoon strip, they men she is seducing seem to call her all kinds of names. My attempt was not to provide a black and white reading of gender and the media. Instead, it was to say that certain stereotypes are being reinstated. Dark Skin is a problem. Being overweight is a problem. If a woman is assertive of her sexuality, she is too “forward”. I do appreciate your comment though and will keep them in mind in future 🙂


  2. Vinod Joseph says:

    Good analysis. The reactions to Savita Bhabhi are far more worthy of gender morality analysis than Savita Bhabhi herself.


  3. avataram says:

    Reeti, thank you for the laugh of the day. My mind boggles at the fact that “feminists” are now against name calling during seduction. Next time you do post modern gender based analysis, leave porn to us pre-moderns.


  4. naren says:

    Well written! Lol @ avataram’s comment!


  5. Sudeep says:

    Yes she is the one who seduces, she ‘willingly wants her adventures’. Almost every man’s dream. That the bhabhi next door wants to sleep with him. I guess that is where this cartoon strip gives ‘control over women’s body’ to its male readers, and subjugates the female subject.


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