Lateral Views: Emancipation of women by Rakhi Sawant?

American Idol probably was my first encounter with the much tom tomed “Reality Show”. As for the Indian version I’ve watched bits and pieces of Indian Idol, Roadies, Big Boss and various talent shows.

Initially, I thought it was an interesting format an in fact a creative one as it totally created a new market segment or say it brought a paradigm shift in TV viewing. Today, with every alternate program in any channel almost a reality show, I began to seriously doubt the concept…maybe for the same reason I watched it i.e. to try something new. It might be bold to make a statement that TV program makers are camouflaging dearth of creativity by coming up with reality show on any random thing because it’s a safe bet or because its safe to tread the travelled path. But somehow I see some meat in my statement (more of it in a separate article).

I happened to flip through “Rakhi ka Swayamvar” while surfing my TV channels, though I never intend to watch it. I’ve heard of it before through the different pre-launch promos. I thought the concept was ridiculous and at the same time very bold from the horde of normal mom and pops types flip flopping every alternate channel. Well even then I knew I would not like to watch it, the thought which I still hold it firmly and highly.

The other day I read an article in Bombay Times by Pritish Nandy talking about the assassination of Savita Bhabhi. I came across in one of Startup Saturday session where one of the panels, Mahesh Murthy (Seedfund) asked the participants whether they’ve heard of, to drive his point home that a good product sells by itself. Surprisingly or not, majority of hands were raised. Coming back to the article, Pritish interestingly put Savita Bhabhi as the emancipation or liberation of women from our veiled society (at least from feminist perspective). Let me put a verbatim from the article:   

“Savita Bhabi is a symbol of freedom, of empowerment, of the sexuality our women can wield if they are allowed to escape the sham world we Indian men trap them in because of our own fears of sexual inadequacy masquerading as machismo. That’s why so many rapes happen. We feel inadequate when it comes to having sex with an equal partner. So we want sex slaves as wives, maids, friends, work colleagues, even underage kids. Savita Bhabhi challenges this mindset.  The more virgin and demure she looks, the more powerful she is as a symbol of defiance against male chauvinism.”

Some how the article connected me to Rakhi ka Swayamvar (sheer serendipity)…On one particular episode, the moms of the bridegrooms meet Rakhi and they were selling themselves so that Rakhi chose their son. I said WOW! This has to be the pinnacle of “Liberation Feminine”…A mom and a son coming with bended knees on a national TV to beg for the hand of a female and here, our super lady was in the throne judging whether they are good enough, not only on the male contestant but also on his esteem (family). She has the VETO power to dump or approve any of the male contestants. What struck me most was even in an arrange marriage I’ve never heard of a female meeting the boy and his family by herself while the reverse is true (personal observation)…and in this Program, telecast on a national TV, a woman by herself is empowered in deciding who her life partner is going to be, while the aspiring life partners meekly submits to the higher being called Rakhi Sawant.  

I’m neither a feminist nor a male chauvinist (I’m just and ordinary chap) but I thought if female rights is what you are fighting for, then I guess this show is one of the important milestones and it needs to be recognized (though I would love this article was written by some feminist cat)

Way to go Rakhi, you unknowingly did it for your female community…though I’m sure you wouldn’t have much clue of what is said here!!!



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