bollywood item numbers can be among the worst forms of objectification for women.
before the introduction and adoption of MTV in india -mid 1990s- item numbers were done solo and in groups, with the female body always been at the forefront.
mtv’s focal point has always been the female body and is becoming so more and more, and on american tv today, the over sexualized female has taken over the media and become the center of the male fantasy. teens and young adults have played it up more, because sex sells in today’s economy.
if you’ve seen bollywood movies, it is not difficult to see that women occupy centerfold. and while song and dance numbers on indian screen has always commodified the female body, nothing compared to what it has become post mtv! mtv india is mtv america, only with indian characters, music and vjs etc. the music is different from american music, but the video’s content is the same, presenting over-sexualized women showing skin, close-ups of women’s cleavage and legs, even between the legs. it may work for america where there are all sorts of laws and behaviors already in place. MTV works for the american economy because there exist side by side laws on sexism, discrimination, equal opps, laws protecting female professors at universities vis-a-vis male students, and now even same-sex marriage laws. there also exist courses on sexuality at school so kids don’t grow up ‘not’ knowing how to handle sexuality. the accent here is on knowledge and respect, and not exposure to sexuality, but providing tools to know and conditioning boys and girls from early on to respect each other. and this is not to say there wont be crimes steuben or even delhi style in america. there are always exceptions in every society, but we are speaking norms, where, if there’s a crime, women don’t fear going to press charges against being raped etc.
it is good to have knowledge and independence and new ways of thinking via books, films, music. but it is also necessary to provide [new] ways and means of ensuring that these new ways work. in an ever-growing consumption-oriented culture, where lakshman rekhas aren’t seen differently from utstrinkhal women [licentious urban women], this over-sexualization of the female post mtv will lead only to more abuse against women in india.
india does not have the same laws and punishments or education abt sexuality to protect women or gays as america has. sexuality is still hush hush, taboo! divorce, widowed women, strong or assertive women are still looked down on, not looked up on, like hilary clinton. delhi rape is only one outcome of a society which doesn’t give credence to women, but many other crimes against women go unreported simply due to the lack of any enforcement. or worse, realization that it is even a crime.
with the advent of mtv, there was great need to consider what measures could be put into place in a culture with a huge history and legacy of disrespect and violence against women. having all these influences and no protection for women is like paving the way for more rapes delhi style, in broad daylight.
and the increased surveillance post verma report after the delhi rape doesn’t mean diddly! laws are needed, not stating facts, which are merely reiterating and reifying those facts as natural or inevitable. modern india hasn’t yet emancipated women and heaped on that is globalization and capitalism seductions, of which mtv is just one example affecting women.
did mtv present new and vital spaces for women in a society known for a history of disrespect against women? and if yes, what role models has it offered to young girls?
please don’t say to become ms india or ms world or actresses!