Thursday, January 15, 2009

Trash or Stud? - Disturbing Double Standards

Growing up, I remember hearing certain words buzz around my good, Indian girl existence—“Girls should be shy.” Shyness was thought of as an Indian woman’s jewel. It won a woman kind words and got her maximum points in the eyes of the pretentious and judgmental society. The more you draped and covered, the more dignified you were considered which brings me to another point -- about saris. You might wrap them up, but you aren’t in the true sense not “exposed,” so people, get off your high horse. Saris might look elegant; perfect for shielding from the naughty look, I think not!

Anyways, when femme fatale Zeenat Aman (Bollywood actress from the seventies) decided to wear a bikini in the hit movie Qurbani, there was brouhaha. She was chastised like no other and frowned upon by the Indian society for showing “too much” skin. You know what I think? Women were jealous of her guts and the ability to carry off a two-piece bathing suit without looking vulgar; men ogled at her in exasperation.

Decades have passed since Zeenat Aman made her tabooed appearance and left a legendary dynasty only to be filled by Kimi katkar, Sonam, Rakhi Sawant, Malika Sherawat etc. In these thirty years, India has undergone a lot of change—clothes, people, mindsets, spending capacities but what’s not changed is the sexist attitude. When a woman wears skimpy clothes, people denounce her with tacky allegations; when a man decides to show off his chiseled body by going topless, folks embrace his Greek God persona and aspire to be like him.

No, I am not making this up. After Om Shanti Om and Ghajini, women have awed and men have tried to emulate Shahrukh Khan’s six-pack and Aamir Khan’s bulked up bodies respectively. So, it was okay for these forty-year old men to go the topless route and not be judged for it? In fact, in one of the “Koffee with Karan,” episodes, both John Abraham and Abhishek Bachan complimented and admired Aamir for his new look in Ghajini. Really? I am shocked because Aamir looks creepy with the Incredible Hulk body in that movie. It’s okay for Salman Khan to show up bare bodied at a wake, but when Madhuri Dixit wore a chiffon salwar kameez in Dil To Pagal hai, the media and the billion Indians derided her for wearing a “see-through” outfit.

Forget the older actors. How about people swooning over Hrithik Roshan’s Dhoom 2 guise and John Abraham’s gratuitous, skimpy sportswear in Dostana? All I heard was “wow!” One of my unnaturally conservative acquaintances salivated over Hrithik and chastised Priyanka Chopra, for her fusion dress sense, in the same breadth. Do I smell envy from the chubby-tubbies of the world?

Okay, I am not a big fan of Raakhi Sawant. She, in a lot of ways, is India’s Sarah Palin—dumbly hot. I always think of the famous Oscar Wilde quote when I see her—“She wore far too much rouge last night and not quite enough clothes. That is always a sign of despair in a woman.” Having said that, I do admire Saawant’s guts. She is ordinary in an extraordinary way and chooses to dress in her trademark style. What’s wrong with that? Every single talk show out there has made a buffoonery out of her wardrobe choices, her peer, Uday Chopra, who has an appalling existence, has won accolades for his body. Something is amiss.

Maybe I sound cynical due to the inhumane temperatures in NYC (read as “clad in three layers and still cold”) while my hubby gets to enjoy (okay-work) in gorgeously warm San Francisco. Whatever be the case, here is something that never ceases to amaze me: It’s mostly women condemning other women for showing skin and condoning men for the same deed. It makes me think if a woman is a woman’s worst enemy?

More until next time.

Copyright © 01.15.2009

"Women are made to be loved, not understood." Oscar Wilde


Anonymous said...

you forgot bips.

Pradeep said...

This is a very interesting and clever observation! It's true that, in general, a woman is more critical of another woman than another man because women tend to compete with each other (but not with men) and that makes them feel insecure about or jealous of other women. It's unfortunate, but true! It's not unusual for women to prefer male bosses, instead of female bosses, for the same reasons. The same logic applies to foreigners, especially, Indians, who compete more with the fellow Indians than the mainstream Americans. Again, it's unfortunate, but true!

p said...

OMG. so true. very well-written.