Gender and Movies

Has Indian Cinema Left No Regard for Female Consent?

Surrounded by the weeping seven dwarves, Snowhite lay in the coffin dead. Then came her prince charming, who slowly bent down to kiss her, and behold; the dead Snow white is all life again. 

What a romantic story. 

But wait, did the charming prince ask for her consent before kissing? No, 
because it doesn’t matter, it never matters!

We grew up hearing such stories and seeing such films that the concept of 
consent never mattered. Everything was to be surrendered to the 
hyper-masculine agendas.
The hero follows the object of his desires. She shouts at him to leave her alone. He grabs her arm. She pushes him off. He forces her into his arms. She struggles out of it. In some films, his group of friends join in on the harassment and entrap her further. 

Yet somehow after this de facto molestation, the film has found a way to make this abused woman fall in love with their hero, thus imparting the harmful false truth that “no” doesn’t really mean “no.” Instead, a woman’s lack of interest is simply a challenge for a man to overcome. This how films have buried deep down the idea of consent.

There is this scene in DDLJ where Raj pranks Simran that they slept together while she was drunk. A cute funny scene. But more than being fun it is only reaffirming the misconception that drunk women are open to sex.

dilwale dulhaniya lejayenge
A still from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

We grew up singing ‘Tu Haa Kar Ya naa kar..tu hai meri Kiran’ from the movie Darr. That is, we grew up singing that ‘a woman’s opinion doesn’t matter’.  Bollywood songs have only objectified womenand depicted them as a sex toy. Most of the songs are a testament to the existing masculinity that overpowers a woman’s opinion.

We can’t blame them because they are just a reflection of our society right! But when the younger generation see their idol glorifying these age-old patriarchal notions, he is driven and convinced to practice it himself.

Film – Pink

It is only after the release and success of the film Pink that people began 
questioning the existence of consent. The male lawyer in the film 
advocates – No means No, it does not require any explanation or 
rationalization, and when any woman, be it your friend, girlfriend, sex-
worker or even your wife say No, Men must Stop. Pink sends a message, 
loud and clear on how we must consider the choices and opinions of 
A lack of consideration for consent only made restrictions on women tighter as it is easier to teach our girls how to prevent themselves from 
getting raped than it is to teach our boys not to rape them. 

The power of cinema is limitless. It can make and break conventions with profound impact.

In order to break down the cultural structures that preserve regressive 
societies, our art must emulate more obliging depiction of love and romance—free of the glorified violence against women that has become 
normalized in our culture. 

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