Yesterday (29th march. 2015), someone sent me a link to a video campaign about women empowerment. It is featuring actress Deepika Padukone and has gone viral in three days since it was posted on YouTube by fashion magazine Vogue. The video is part of Vogue Empower, an initiative by fashion magazine. The video “My Choice” aims to bring awareness to the cause of women’s right. Watch it here:
Though the video rightly talks about the right of a woman to make her own choices in life but it has left me confused as apparently there is something seriously wrong with the way the message is being propagated in this campaign.
Vogue and Deepika are both part of an industry, the machinery of which is based on leveraging perversion, imposing sexist benchmarks on appearance of women and sexual objectification. Vogue and Deepika coming together and talking about women empowerment leaves commoners like me a bit confused. As much as brilliant film making can change opinions and enlighten people for a better cause, scripts written by the likes of Homi Adajania while his hasty two minute trip to the washroom can create a ruckus.
Fashion and film industries across the world, feed and flourish on women’s insecurities about themselves and their bodies. A propaganda machine of an ultra-narcissistic culture, which in their delusional self-worth believes that it has a privileged position in this universe to constantly tell women the right and the wrong way to do things.
However, Miss Padukone continues to appear in movies and songs that objectify women in the worst possible manner. She is seen quite comfortable while endorsing a fairness cream for women. In another advertisement she is seen endorsing a “No Fat Cereal Breakfast” which makes you lose weight and look beautiful. “This wedding season lose weight, not your confidence”, she says.
Having sex outside marriage is not empowerment and it certainly could not be an individual’s choice (it could be mutual choice of a couple). “Loving temporarily” or “‘lusting forever” has nothing to do with women empowerment. This campaign indirectly justifies adultery and cheating by weaponizing it under the cloak of women empowerment. Since when did branding of complete individualism and anarchy became equivalent to women empowerment?
It is never about the choice. A robber chooses to rob, a terrorist chooses to kill, a rapist chooses to rape. It’s about right or wrong.
The boundaries of right and wrong vary from people to people, culture to culture and place to place. It’s about doing what’s right and not what’s wrong.
As women gain social power and prominence, they are forced to adhere to arbitrary and artificial physical standards. Women today have more money, power and recognition than they have ever had before; but in terms of how they feel about themselves physically or emotionally may actually be worse off than their un-liberated great grandmothers.
The talk of prerogative of choice, comes with burden of the responsibilities and good or bad consequences. I fail to understand how slaves of consumerism can have anything to talk about empowerment of women.
Unfortunately, this campaign neither represents womanhood nor the Indian woman. It only represents certain class of privileged population who has a huge consuming power. Those who really need empowerment are still struggling in Indian villages and can’t afford to read Vogue.
I am as much as part of equality to women as anybody else but I am against pseudo-feminists. I believe in equal rights and justice for women, men and all the others. I believe in standing up against a wrong done towards anyone and I believe in making the world a better place where everyone irrespective of their caste, creed, sex, looks, color, economic condition have an equal stand in the society and in the eyes of justice.
A constructive choice that a woman makes should never be restricted. There is certainly no fixed line that can be drawn, people are different, people expect different things from life. Every woman is different in her way of thinking and I respect that. But no amount of freedom should be traded for dignity.
Nudity, adultery, cheating can never be an expression for the power of choice. Use your power to do something productive.
The only way I can justify the concept of this campaign is when I separate “freedom to make choices” from the “consequences that might follow”. The underlying message here could be that as individuals, we have the ultimate say in making choices for ourselves. Can these choices go wrong, horribly wrong? Depending on the social and moral context, Yes. Does this campaign suggest that consequences originating from my choices aren’t my responsibility? I hope, not.
In the end all I can say is that freedom and empowerment cannot be sold through the glossy pages of a magazine. It can only come through education, experience, mutual respect and self-knowledge.