Children grow up on big and small screens, and so does their thought process about women and female identity. Nymphets and masculine women still turn up, as do super smart, funny, frightening and tough girls. The cinematic representation of womanhood has evolved into an extremely diversified, sometimes conflicting array of identities, including daring adaptations of age-old archetypes and bold fresh heroines. Having said that, the girls’ faces continue to stay bewilderingly monochromatic. Females and other groups have had far fewer opportunities to play different characters. Instead, the woman has frequently been the lead character’s girlfriend or wife. This sent a message to the entire society that females were less valuable.
Pitting women against women
Movies love to make some sort of feud between girls, pitting them against each other for whichever trivial reason. At the end of the day, many people will watch these types of films because they are enthralled by them. There are shows or movies in which the female characters’ boyfriends or husbands make them feel downtrodden, and it is at this point that the women seek advice from one another. The sisterhood is built on the main character’s concerns with males, which is absurd. Sisterhood is more than just the concept of oppression shared by women.
It’s so irritating that folks feel compelled to pit women against one another. How often do you hear such things about two highly successful men? (Imagine a battle between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.) The worst part is that girls are so eager to act in and bring other women down. Women must speak up for other women in a world where the odds are stacked against us.
Women are subjected to body and beauty standards that are imposed on them
This one is personal – I grew up believing acquaintances who told me that I’d never find a man because I’m fat. It is not acceptable to impose on women these ever-changing body and beauty standards. You need to be fair, size zero, tall, have silky hair, your nose needs to be smaller, you need botox, you need to colour your grey hair, you need to wear makeup to cover your acne scars – STOP. Nobody has to fit into a stereotype of what society considers to be a perfect woman. I see thin women being adored and idolised on screen. But it is now clear that all women have insecurities, and it is not fair that cinema, which is supposed to be an escape for many, forces these invisible social weights on women.
Women being judged or shamed for what they wear
Could we please put an end to this? I understand judging the clothes if they don’t suit your style, but criticizing the woman in the clothes for donning those clothes – that has to stop. Stop mocking women for wearing what they want, whether it’s long clothes on the beach or short clothes on the street.
Women who dress modestly are wife material, while those who do not are portrayed as rogues or end up pursuing someone else’s man. Several films impose their perspectives on the ideal woman, often through supporting characters—they play romantic interests or pursue careers that appear ‘nurturing,’ coming across as feeble and submissive humans with little space for thought or argument.
Aside from being a far cry from reality, such films generate an incorrect assumption of women’s capabilities and preferences, indirectly sowing the seeds of inequality in people’s minds. When men watch action movies, they expect us to have perfect hair and make-up all the time, an insatiable sexual desire, and no PMS.
Although our relationships may not appear to be as glamorous as they do in the movies, women must also recognise that a man does not need to wear a cape or ride a gallant steed to be our hero or knight in shining armour. Forget about how men are portrayed in movies and deal with men as they are, not as you would like them to be.
Women anticipate grand romantic gestures
Almost in every romantic comedy or drama I’ve seen, the lead actor will usually profess his eternal love to the female lead (usually after a massive argument or momentary breakup) in these long and complex speeches that make Hamlet’s soliloquies look short, and that also generally melts most women’s hearts. How many movies have you seen in which a couple of fights onscreen, the woman flees, and the man pursues her and turns her around to give her a passionate kiss? Isn’t it too often? We all know that isn’t how real life works. This also has a negative impact on women, as we often do not appreciate the little things our partners do for us. Every relationship is unique and we all have our own story.
The ultimate goal of a woman’s life is to find a man
And if she doesn’t, she’s usually portrayed as a careerist. What, after all, does having dreams about oneself have to do with love and marriage? Anyway, while this trope is becoming less popular, it is still heavily promoted in Bollywood. According to mainstream Bollywood films, a girl’s education is a ruse designed to get her married to a good man. Regrettably, this is also the Indian mindset, but change must begin somewhere, so why don’t movies start portraying smart, capable women who don’t go vying for a man’s attention at every opportunity? Because patriarchy believes men are superior to women, they will assume guardianship of women. We are the ones who shape society, and we have the ability to change it as needed.
I feel hero has no gender and I am trying to prove that. We have for so many years fed our audience that hero is a gender-based term and they have also accepted that.
“Now the change can not come overnight, it will be slow and steady. It requires a lot of perseverance from the side of all-female actors who are trying to bring the change,” Taapsee Pannu told India TV.
To see real women on stage we need to push women who direct, act or produce forward. We as an audience have a major call on what kind of films are made based on what we watch.