Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We need to stop objectification of human body...

During one of the panel discussion on one of NDTV program noted social scientist Kamla Bhasin raised very interesting point, she called nakedness as a natural phenomena but objected to to nudity which in commercial media tries to objectify the female body. Kamla Bhasin made very interesting argument against the wide spread nudity in advertising as well as movie world which objectifies male and female (specially female) bodies and present it as a some consumer product. She also took a strong objection on derogatory lyrics of some Hindi movie songs which clearly present female body as some object for male enjoyment. Actually she raised similar concerns during the episode related with the domestic violence and gender sensitivity on Amir Khan's show Satyamev Jayate. She insisted that nakedness is natural, there is nothing wrong in it but nudity is purposeful and specially female nudity which directly results in objectification of female body (specially in movies) is also result of age old patriarchal culture and mindset.

One can argue that what type of clothes to wear or how much to expose one's body is entirely personal choice, what they show on screen is also a matter of artistic freedom and no one can deny or object to these points. But I guess she wants to question whether this is done because of individual choice or because of pressure to present oneself in particular form because traditionally it is being done like that. One can clearly see this when men are all dressed up in suits and on same stage one can see women almost half naked (in nicely air conditioned room, which is relatively cold), with high heels (even the taller one). If all this is because of individual choice then no one should object to it but is it really like this? No one can question individual's right to choose what dress they want to wear on any occasion but whenever I talk to people it doesn't seem like that. I see many women and men complaining that they can not wear same dress on two different occasions because people will taunt them or pass some adverse comments about their dress. So I always think whether people dress up out of choice or out of compulsion or pressure to fit in? I myself never used to feel comfortable in suit and many traditional Indian dresses and on many occasions (functions like marriage or festival celebrations) refused to wear them and I faced lot of criticism and weird gestures for doing that. I didn't care what people thought about me when they saw me like that but it seems many do care and they care a lot about what people will say about their appearance. They care so much that many dress to fit in to that image of real man and real woman created by society (or by fashion industry).

According to me to pressurize or force anyone to expose their body is equally bad as to force them to cover it. Surprisingly most people don't believe that today because of heavy advertisement or aggressive propaganda there is tremendous pressure on men and specially on women to dress in particular way. Specially women are considered as modern or liberal or progressive only if they wear certain type of clothes, this stereotype is very common. I see many people talking against burqa or ghoonghat system where women are forced to cover their body, this system is part of some cultures or religion but not many people raise their voice against pressure on women in today's world to expose their body or dress in certain way, I always wonder why? It seems many believe that wearing burqa is more oppressive than bikini walk during many beauty contests. It also seem that people find it hard to believe that women can choose by their own will to wear burqa or sari or ghoonghat but they easily believe that all women expose their body or wear revealing clothes out of their own choice. Actually in both cases if it is done under any direct or indirect pressure it is wrong, human body is treated as an physical object in both the cases. If forcing women to wear burqa is wrong them forcing them to walk on ramp in bikini is also wrong. Now male body is also objectified heavily in movies which is again a very serious issue, I agree that it is a very recent phenomena compared to female body objectification but we can see that it has also started. One can see many products in the market and aggressive ad campaigns which strongly advocate of certain body type and shape for men and women both. Some ads for these products are really sick and racist but sales of these product indicate that many people are buying this idea which is very sad to see.

We need to stop this human body objectification, this has definitely created lot of hurdles in progress of women I hope same thing doesn't happen with men. I don't think it is easy to stop this process because this objectification is so seamlessly done that many times people don't even notice or know that they are being objectified. They follow it as a fashion trend or a way of looking beautiful or just to fit in the image of man and woman created by this objectification process. I hope we all recognize this problem and acknowledge its seriousness, then only we can tackle this issue. With examples from my own family and friends I can see how seriously it affects minds of people. I was so surprised by this phenomena that I started thinking that it a myth that people chose their own dress, my observation says that they are forced to choose particular dress. One can give different names to that force, one can call it a peer pressure, gender stereotype, fashion trend, culture or some other name but I found very few who were willing to go against the popular norm, who dare to think differently. I know it is a tough battle, it is not easy to stand alone from crowd, I know how it feels. I hope I see some more people who are willing to take this path, who are willing to question this objectification, challenge the stereotypes and defy these unjust norms. Unless we dare to challenge this objectification process it is going to grow and become a monster one day.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

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