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Objectification of women by the media
While the media and the film industry blame politicians, police, society and everybody else for the 'rapist mentality', it refuses to acknowledge or even analyze its own contribution. So here's my analysis of how the media contributes to the objectification of women.

AS INDIA collectively mourns the heart-wrenching death of the poor un-named 23-year-old girl from Delhi who was brutally gang-raped a couple of weeks ago, the media spotlight on the case and the issues it has raised is relentless. A lot of informative and thought-provoking ideas have emerged in all the TV debates and on social media, but one thing that hasn't changed is the familiar passing-of-the-buck. Where everybody blames everybody else for the mess our country is in.

Society blames politicians and the police, police blame politicians and society and politicians blame the media and other parties while taking sexist pot-shots at rape victims and protesters. The media, of course, blames everybody else. But this debate has opened up such a large can of worms that no party can escape its share of the blame.

But while the media has astutely pointed out the flaws in all the other parties, it cannot be expected to take on its own kind. Which is why i would like to turn the spotlight on it.

Panelists on TV debates as well as the anchors themselves have decried the objectification of women as one of the reasons behind the patriarchal mindset that pervades our country and is cited as one of the biggest reasons for rapes. But who is the biggest culprit of the objectification of women across the world? It would have to be the media. If you disagree with me, then let me just share with you an advertisement that plays in the commercial breaks in-between those learned discussions on the objectification of women.

And if that wasn't enough, this is another ad playing during the same commercial breaks, which seems to tell men that all you need is a bike and then you can have as many beautiful women as you want.

So what is the message being sent across by the media here? That as long as our advertisers pay us money to keep our business running, we don't care if they are doing so by presenting women as sex objects even while we are taking the moral high ground against the practice.

A top news anchor take on politicians saying empty promises won't work anymore. And even as an unflappable Valerian Santos calmly makes his point about the trial in his son Keenan's open-and-shut murder case still not having commenced more than a year after the incident, said news anchor himself makes another empty promise to him, "We will not forget this case, and we will not forget your case. We are with you and will be with you till you get justice". Knock Knock! Sorry Mr. hot shot anchor, but you have already forgotten his case. How many times did you bother to showcase it after the initial outrage died down? Even in this case, will the media focus on it even after its consumers, us, have lost interest in the product on sale? Or will it move on to more important things like how long Dhoni is going to remain captain of the Indian cricket team?

This is one aspect of the media which really riles me and I have written about before. We all know that you are dictated by TRPs and advertising revenue. We all know that at the end of the day, you are a for-profit business, and commercial viability is going to dictate your actions. And personally, I see nothing wrong with that. After all, every significant human activity needs commerce for sustenance. But then why not just acknowledge it? Why this whole facade of being the upholders of virtue and guardians of morality? Why this charade of acting as if you are a non-profit organization with human welfare as your sole motive? If you are indeed so concerned about the objectification of women, why not refuse to air such ads which propagate the same? If you can lecture political parties to drop and disqualify legislators who make sexist comments or have sexual assault cases against them, then why can't the same accountability standard apply to you?

Bollywood (which I would club together with the media since it is a closely related business) has also been dragged into the chamber of suspects for objectification of women and glorifying the eve-teasing and dominant male. A charge which several Bollywood personalities have denied vociferously. We have heard excuses like, "Life doesn't imitate art, art imitates life". It is critical to nail this lie for good.

So many hair-cutting salons across the country, including in the smallest of villages, prominently showcase the hairstyles of movie stars as an inspiration for their customers to copy. The influence of smoking on screen on young impressionable minds been cited as a factor to try and ban depictions of smoking in movies countless times. "Hate-metal" or excessively violent video games been cited as an influential psychological factor in mass-killings by psychopathic gunmen in the US and elsewhere time and again. Oh, and just by the way, how many live-in relationships did Indians have before the advent of cable TV? Scientific studies have been done in the west which established a link between the media's obsession with size-zero women and incidences of anorexia. And most tellingly, i remember a case from a around a decade ago where a group of youths in Mumbai got inspired by the Hollywood movie "Gone in Sixty Seconds" and resorted to stealing cars, taking them for a joyride and then dumping them.

So this lie that movies and media do not influence people must be summarily dismissed from our collective consciousness. Let no one use this excuse again to effectively say that "We will show you the worst that humanity has to offer, and become super rich in the process. But please don't take it to heart." And I hope that the media, which is capable of doing a fantastic job of analyzing others, occasionally turns its gaze inward to see what problems it may be creating or facilitating itself.

 

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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