In this digital age, it has been said that media is as important as clothing and shelter. Media reflects and also influences our society. Today’s generation looks forward to media for inspiration, and also as a source of entertainment and information. Now, before discussing consequences of portrayal of women in media, it is important to look at the way women are actually portrayed in media. A look at any Hindi prime time channel will give you an appropriate idea as to what media expects women to be! All women characters are one dimensional; they are perfect daughters, wives, mothers and perfect in every other aspect. They never have bad hair day, they go to sleep in heavy jewelry and always wake up with their bindis still intact. Well, except being physically perfect, they are emotionally ideal as well; they are soft spoken, obedient and submissive. They are self sacrificing to such an extent that they put everyone’s desires and needs before their own. Also these TV shows also play a very important role in enforcing patriarchy; men are portrayed as the bread earners and women as ideal homemakers. The issues faced by women are limited to petty squabbles, plotting against other women, tolerating their mother in laws torture and competing for a man’s love. They are not shown to have their personal identity independent of others, no hobbies, nor any likes or dislikes. Even in some serials where women are shown working they are still expected to do all the house work before going out to their office in the morning. There are no shows that portray women’s actual struggle or the actual problem faced by them in India. When certain shows start with a novel story line like Balika Vadhu, which portrayed the trials of a child bride, sooner or later they do end up on the same old Saas Bahu track.
Also, another famous prime time TV show, Madhubala which casts the lead in a submissive role, in which their “Happy marriage” was portrayed as one in which the wife has to pamper her husband’s whims and fancies. Another famous TV series, Mann Ki Awaazz Praatigya, it was shown that the women was coerced into marrying her stalker and was forced into an abusive marriage but later fell in love with her abuser. These portrayal of women in media create unrealistic expectation on real women, they feel alienated by these characters. Young women and teenagers who come across these characters are exposed to extremely stereotypical and uni-dimensional characters that go a long way toward enforcing patriarchy. Also when women fail to live up to these impractical standards they tend to feel guilty. There are some bright spots, like Desh ki beti Nandini which portrays the story of a young aspiring politician; however because of low rating the show was cancelled. There is an urgent need of sensible shows which portray women in positive, realistic light but at the same time are entertaining and engaging.
About the Author: This article is contributed by Alifya Vora, our intern.