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The role of media in promoting patriarchy


Late for a meeting, I was frantically looking for a rickshaw. My good fortune and the fourth rickshaw fella I asked said a “YES”.As I entered his rickshaw, I saw a small torn poster-“Space for 3 IDIOTS”. His meter box cover read-“ONGO Accepted”. On my way,  I saw huge billboards of Ranveer Singh promoting a mobile. In my office building, the space between the elevators were used for advertisements. This week it was booked by a realty estate and an online company providing all local services. I mentally noted the name of the company as I was looking for a handyman for my household errands. I was buying medicine and the chemist packed my medicine in a bag of an online food delivery company called “BOX8”. In our day to day life we are bombarded with a variety of advertisements either subtly or directly. Paper, billboards and TV are not the only mediums of advertisements. The online world has opened multiple avenues of advertisements.

Advertisements or media in general ;subconsciously plays with our mind. One might not accept, but it does influence our choices, lifestyle and habits. I read an article once, which said that the world of advertisements put forth a world where looking good, smelling good, having car, going on expensive holidays are the parameters of happiness. They define what we need to be happy. It blocks our own vision of happiness and guile their own product as the ladder to a good life. Over the years’ media has played an important role in promoting patriarchy too.

I came across this podcast-When Women Stopped Coding. It traces the root cause of declining number of females in computers in the 1980’s. Projecting computers as an all men domain being one of the main causes of the declining interest.

This Ted Talk  Bring on the Female SuperHeroes, by Christopher Bell(A media Studies Scholar) explains the role of media in creating gender based toys. Marketing dolls for girls and superheroes for boys. He goes on to explain how there is no lack of female superwoman but there is no merchandize available for the same. How media conglomerates are trying to promote their thoughts and opinions on public.

Closer home, we are bombarded with the daily soaps where the notion of an ideal women (mother, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law) is portrayed as someone who is obedient, sacrificing, homely. Advertisements uses women sexuality to promote their products. Advertisements promote how looking fair boosts confidence and guarantee you a job (Your qualification doesn’t matter). It shows women fall for men who smells good or ride bikes (Compatibility doesn’t matter). Some of the daily soaps and advertisements are ridiculously biased in their depiction of women as dumb, scheming or totally selfless.

Patriarchy is so deeply rooted that even to promote sanitation the ad says- “Daughters and Daughters-in-law shouldn’t go outside, build a toilet inside your house”. Read about it here

To be fair, there have been some path breaking advertisements (I can’t say same about the daily soaps, I feel their level is stopping day by day). However, these advertisements have been few and far(I am not a Kitchen Appliance,RakshaBandhan,Working-Women-New-Ad).

There is an act IRWA(Indecent Representation of Women Act)- An Act to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The fight for gender equality has many demons. The act only targets one of them. With the fight gaining momentum due to increased awareness, it the right time for corporate houses and media to analyse their marketing strategy.

Talent-Does it Really have a Gender

               Entire India rejoiced when Olympic medal was bought home by a gender they did not expect from. Shrieks of joy was heard from every corner of the medal drought nation. This feat would have inspired millions of young girls and their parents to achieve their sporting dreams. Lot of congratulatory messages were shared on all the social media platform. However, amongst the piles of forwards were some misplaced messages on feminism.

“Times are changing, Indian men wins beauty competitions and Indian women win sport medal”.

“A nation obsessed with boys, girls saved the pride of our motherland”

“Only women can love gold”

               Our boys were criticized for losing. Have we thought, does anyone go in the playground with the idea of losing? Girl or boy every sportsperson try to give their best. Our girls winning does not make our boys effort less. A medal won by a girl or boy is equally important for the nation.

               Similarly, downplaying the achievement of our “Mr World” is equally callous. Both have achieved success in their respective field. By making the above statements we are not supporting feminism. Our society has labelled the fields, sports -men domain, beauty-women domain. However, sports (physical strength attributed with male) garners more appreciation than beauty (attributed with women). A female flying high in the men domain is to be encouraged but not when men scale new heights in a female-dominated field. Is this not sexism? Comments like,” Women were not made to do everything that men can. They were made to do everything that men can’t” makes me ponder, who decides what a person can and cannot do?

             I applied a beautiful mehndi during one of the festivities and it was a guy who applied it. There were talks about how now boys will be doing girls work. Why are we gender grouping qualities? I am a girl, but extremely bad at any creative art work. I am not a great cook neither like cooking. All my packing is taken care by my husband. I do not have a great taste in clothes and accessories (my husband and sister are my fashion guides). Does that make me any less of woman and my husband less of a man??I don’t think so. We do what we like and not what we are supposed to or expected to like.

            A girl who is a tomboy (I was one) is accepted to a certain extent by the society. However, the society can’t digest the reverse. Can’t there be boys who do not like sports or gadgets? Can’t there be boys who are sensitive, creative? Can’t there be boys who like dolls rather than superheroes? Why can’t both men and women do what they have interest in rather than doing something they have no interest in.

           We have gender-divided qualities. Exhibiting male qualities is a sign of superiority and female qualities is a sign of weakness. “She is tough like a boy”, is said with pride.” Don’t cry like a girl”, is said with disgust. Worst is any male displaying a feminine streak is labelled as “Gay”. It is time we stop this practice. Any quality worth appreciating is worth appreciating whether imbibed by a girl or a boy. It makes no difference. Period. We are in midst of a revolutionary time. Our girls are groomed to break the glass ceiling. It is time we encourage our boys too to follow their dreams even if it is unconventional. We need to lay foundation of a world where everyone is free to choose based on their will and liking. Nothing is too girly or too boyish. A world where talent is rewarded and respected equally irrespective of the gender that exhibits it.

The post was first published here

Daughter’s Money-Who has the right to use it?

We are in the 21st century, where women have moved from managing kitchen chores to office chores. They are an integral earning member of the family now. However, these women are facing a dilemma today. The money they earn whom does it belong to? The car, house or any other valuables they must have bought before marriage with some or no help from their parents, whom does it belong to after marriage. What if they want to give a part of their salary to her parents even after marriage? Will it be OK with her new family? Will her parents accept it?

Many people have realized, that education provides the confidence and independence to a girl, needed if faced with dire consequences. So, thankfully many girls are being educated today. You can see the pride, if their daughters are scaling new heights in their career. However, many of them do not use their daughter’s money for their household expense. They either save it or invest it for their own daughter’s future. Some might use it for her own marriage, some might not even do that. Educating the daughter is their duty, but they do not believe they have a right on their daughter’s hard earned money. A message is silently passed on to their daughters, “You are only my duty but I have no right on you”.

However progressive we call ourselves, but we never get rid of the concept of girl being “Paraya Dhan”. The word “Kanyadaan” itself indicates giving away. As soon as girl is born, if a family is not dejected, deep in their heart they prepare themselves for the day when they will give away their beautiful daughter. Is not “Kanyadaan” objectifying women? Is she an object or a piece of land to be given away??Marriage is about two people spending their life together, why is it made to be a girl leaving her birth family!!!

There are many girls who financially support their family. However, once she is married, the right on her money is assumed to be transferred to her husband and his family. If the husband’s family is a good, they would say,” You know we allow her to help her family. After all they are her parents. We are not orthodox you know”. Who gave you the right to allow or not allow? It is her money, and she alone has the right to decide what to do with it!! The way, a girl’s parent has no right on your son’s income, similarly you don’t have any right on your daughter in laws income.If you have all rights on your sons money then why cant a girls parent have rights on her money.

There are so many women who help their parents secretly because their in-laws won’t like it or worse situation they might one day taunt her parents. Many parents seek help from their daughter secretly because they feel ashamed of letting the society know about it. It will hurt their so-called image in the society. Funnily, our society cribs if a son doesn’t take care of his parents but daughter has no such obligation. And if daughter takes care of their parents, they are labelled as – “Son”

By imparting education to our daughters, we have crossed one barrier. But true equality would be achieved when we treat our daughters with exactly same expectation as we treat our son. When we will truly believe that daughters too are an integral part of family irrespective of her marital status, the way our sons are.

This post is published here

Command, Not Demand Respect

Respect – I think is the most misunderstood word. The official meaning of respect is -a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. But we are always asked to respect someone irrespective of the fact that the said person may not have any single quality that can be respected. More so a girl is always advised to be more respectful (in other words subdued) in her behaviour. Is not respect commanded and not demanded??

  • Respect your elders -Just because they are born a generation before me. So? If they behave maturely, impart me good knowledge, have done some good work of course I would respect them. But if they behave rudely, throw their weight around I won’t respect them.
  • Respect your guests –I will entertain my guest, try being a perfect host. But if my guests are complaining for no reason (especially during any occasions), being difficult, then I will not respect them.
  • Respect your in-laws – This list is huge; anybody remote who will be your relative-in-law needs to be respected. And this becomes more important if you are a bride or from bride’s family. There are some disgusting customs, where the bride’s family is supposed to bend and show respect to the groom’s family (irrespective of the age of the bride and groom family member). How being the relative or parents of the groom gives any one extra brownie point? If you behave nicely with me, my family I’ll respect you. But if you on purpose try to taunt or disrespect my family for your own (being from the groom side) ego, I won’t respect you.
  • Respect your husband (Respect him as your GOD)- Yes of course, I will respect my husband and he needs to respect me. However, if he keeps treating me badly and insulting me, how can I respect him??No he is not my god and I won’t treat him like one.
  • Respect because he/she is at a very high post – You may be a CEO or the head of the police but if your behaviour or thinking stinks you won’t get any respect from me.

Then there are certain parameters to decide, how respectful one is. If you do not follow any one of these then you are an offender

1)Your attire- Yes, if you wear a saree and cover your head you are extremely respectful (You may be swearing them in your heart but that doesn’t count). They certainly don’t believe – “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. I fail to understand how what I wear can be a sign of respect for anybody else.

2)The way you talk – If you voice your opinion and if it is against what the elders say, then you disrespect them. If they hurl insults or accuse you in the most awful manner, you are expected to keep quiet. This is your way of showing respect, but if you back answer you are a manner less, disobedient child.

3)The ornaments you wear after marriage (for girls)- I was told that I show no respect for my marriage since I don’t wear any of the ornaments which signify that I’m married. I simply looked at them and laughed and by doing so I definitely disrespected them.

I will respect you as long as you do the same. But if you are a stubborn arrogant rude person, I won’t respect you just because you are any of the above. If you cross your limit do not expect me to be a mute spectator. If my clothes, voice or the way I live my life offends you, I am definitely NOT SORRY.

This post was published first here



Super-Man– One who has extraordinary powers to save the world. He has great strength, ability to fly. He is super-intelligent.

Super-Woman– a woman with exceptional physical or mental ability, especially one who successfully manages a home, brings up children, and has a full-time job.

Why this difference? Why can’t a woman be a superwoman if she simply saves the world? Why does she need to worry about managing the home, kids, jobs etc? Isn’t the superman’s job a cakewalk compared to the superwoman’s?

He simply needs to focus on one thing, and if there is no threat to the world, he doesn’t need to manage the house, kids etc. to retain his superman title. However, a woman needs to be continuously on her toes to meet everyone demands to retain her title.

Why can’t a woman who simply chooses to focus and excel in her career be a super-woman? Why does she need to excel in the household chores?

Why does a woman who chooses to focus on her children and house not become a super-woman? Why does she need a high-profile, high-paying job to prove she is superwoman?

As they say, women are breaking boundaries. They are choosing fields which were hitherto male dominated. However, choosing a path breaking career does not catapult a woman to a superwoman position. She needs to prove her mettle in household chores, raising kids etc. There is a lot of pressure amongst women especially the working women to excel in every field. Doing an excellent job at work is great but can you bake a cake? Or do you get to spend enough time with your child after working so late?

And the housewives have a different dilemma altogether. Their work is not noticed to even garner appreciation. The funny part is, if she does a great job at managing the needs of her household, it is dubbed as a minimum expectation owing to the fact that she stays at home anyways. And if she is not managing well, then she is completely useless.

I don’t want to be a super-woman. After working for 12 hours in office, I cannot go back home and do all the household chores. I get tired too. And during my days off, I too like to relax. I would like to read a book or sleep or watch my favourite TV series all day. No, I don’t feel like cleaning my house or trying to cook a new exotic dish. I don’t care. I am human and surprisingly my hormones do not behave the way, they are expected. Since they are a rebel, so am I.

This post was published on

Men-Please Stand Up


I am a firm believer that everyone needs to stand up for themselves. My previous article I mentioned that nobody has the power to empower you. It needs to come from within. However, we as humans have a choice to stand up for what is right. It is a choice sometimes we conveniently ignore.; because it doesn’t concern us or ignore because we assume fighting for it will create more trouble. I have met many men who agree that society is not fair to women but don’t speak up when situation demands.

Let’s for once exercise this choice. Let’s try without worrying about the outcome. I am calling out to all feminist men (Yes Feminism is an ideology and it is not an all women domain)

I am calling out, so that you speak up and stand up for your mother, sister, wife, friend or any women you know. Unfortunately, in a patriarchal society men voice is heard more than women voice. There are many ways you can contribute,


1)Speak by asking your parents to have the same rule for your sister/wife, as it is for you. Whether it is the deadline to come home at night or going out of town alone with friends.

2)Take initiative to help in the household chores. I have seen many home where the girls are taught all household chores and is expected to help, but not the boy. Tell them, you can help too and you to want to learn.

3)Always encourage your sister/wife career. Make it as important to your parents as your career is. Fight with them when they want to marry off your sister against her wishes.

4)When you are getting married, tell them you would contribute equally towards the expenses. In some community only wedding expense has to be borne by the bride’s family and no dowry is involved. Still, it takes 2 people to marry then why only one should bear the expense.

5)Do not agree to be part of any custom which might be offensive to the bride’s family. (There are quite a few in every community).

6)If you contribute in the household expense, ask your sister/wife to contribute too. You can decide the ratio, but make it a point to do so. Your behaviour implies equality in true sense, please remember.

7)Let your wife decide, if she wishes to change her name or not. If she does not, support her when she is questioned about her choice.

8)Speak up, when someone gives you blessing of having a baby boy or tells you that you need a boy to carry your family name forward. Cut them there and let your views be known.

9)Whenever in a discussion, a character of the women is assaulted due to her independent modern thoughts, please stop them there. Do not keep quiet.

Please make an effort. Even if you are able to change the view of one person, it will help in the long run.