Tag Archives: media criticism

Satyamev Jayate’s Ardh Satya – FARAH NAQVI (The Hindu)

Aamir Khan’s ‘truths’ on sex-selective abortion showcased mothers who fought the practice but he missed the point that reproductive decisions are rarely made by women

In a media-saturated age, stars must use their celebrity status to draw attention to things that get ignored. Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate — a 360° swing away from the muscle flexing normally associated with Bollywood men — has sealed his image as a socially conscious star. The Sunday morning slot, the unprecedented tie-up between private television and Doordarshan, the ‘touch your heart’ approach, and the inaugural issue itself — ‘saving the girl child’, a guaranteed winner — made for good television. The studio audience was practically bawling by the time Swanand Kirkire belted out his soulful ode to the girl child at the end (O Ri Chiraiya). So why does the bee in my bonnet refuse to settle down?

For one, Aamir Khan has taken a huge leap from raising awareness to being expert, interlocutor and activist all rolled into one. The show goes beyond talk show journalism, which at least pretends to allow different shades of opinion to argue, disagree (and the better shows do not attempt a final resolution). This show is unabashed ‘truth-telling’ — Satyamev Jayate — and is structured to appropriate for its lead star the power of being the truth-fountain. The concern is that he presents both a populist and one-dimensional truth’ on an enormously complex social issue with a dangerous authority that only his kind of stardom can muster.

Sex selection is certainly something this nation needs to talk about. And if this show gets us talking, that’s welcome. I only wish Aamir had started a different conversation, taking us beyond the ‘beti bachao’ discourse that has failed to dent sex selection one iota for over 20 years. Everybody loves to “bachao betis” — politicians regularly pose with little girls as they launch cash-transfer schemes for them (called things like kanyadaan or bhagyalaxmi). The ‘girl child’ has become a de-contextualised object for us to ‘save,’ like a cute little bunny rabbit. Overall concerns of gender equity are not a central part of the discussion, but they have to be. Because the problem is not with innocent, pig-tailed little girls. The problem this country has is with its women (that is what pig-tailed girls grow into, remember?) And until we make gender justice and equity central to this framework, we will struggle in vain against the tide.

The show started with testimonies of three brave mothers who had saved their female foetuses against tremendous odds. I salute them. But this showcasing, serving largely to place the onus for saving female foetuses on ‘brave motherhood’ misses the point that reproductive decisions in India are not made solely, or chiefly, by women.

Then the language — ‘female foeticide’, ‘killing of girls,’ ‘murder in the womb’ — dents not the practice of sex selection but women’s reproductive rights by stigmatising all abortion. After all, the very act of abortion is a ‘foeticide.’ Scores of women’s rights groups have been battling this regressive language, preferring the more accurate descriptor ‘sex selection.’ Research should have told the show’s producers about the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, which gives Indian women (some) legal rights to access safe abortion. Yet, abortion services are dismal, and lakhs of desperate women undergo perfectly legitimate, non-sex selective abortions in unsafe backrooms. Some bleed to death in the process. Even as we seek to urgently end sex selective abortions, we need to simultaneously ensure that we do not create an environment that compromises our commitment to expanding safe, legal abortion services for all women.

‘The’ solution

Aamir Khan’s also presented ‘the’ solution, to this complex problem. He will work with the Government of Rajasthan to fast track cases of violation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT). On Wednesday, he pressed this point and got an assurance from Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. I agree India has shamefully abdicated implementation of this law. Medical ethics must be foregrounded; the extremely powerful medical lobby held criminally accountable. But in a demand-supply paradigm, especially on an issue like this, law alone cannot be the centrepiece of the solution.

The PCPNDT Act can only stem the supply of ultrasound technology that enables sex determination. We need to put equal energy on the demand side, by asking the complex, deeper questions. Why, as India heads towards modernity, are families increasingly averse to daughters? Is the source of aversion the same as it always was? We know sex selection is motivated by socially accepted devaluation of females, perpetuated by traditional gender roles, but what else is going on? With immense social change taking place in India, we need to identify fault lines and zones of social conflict where this devaluation can be challenged. In an age of unbridled consumerism, is the ‘girl’ just another ‘inconvenient object’? In this same economic landscape how can we build on the fact that more women are entering the workforce, but with lower pay than men? Can the struggle for equal wages be one piece of the solution?

How are modern aspirations colliding with traditional social relations? Why do fathers-to-be fear what lies in store for them if they have a daughter? Is it still dowry? Is it also fear of violence against women? Is it fear of women’s sexual promiscuity, fuelled by the surfeit of sexually-explicit media images? Why is this fear not offset by her possible economic contribution to her family? Well, to earn, she might need to venture into the big bad world where her chastity will need protection; her sexuality controlled. Let us talk about these attitudes and fears, Aamir, instead of shouting ‘criminal’ and ‘paapi‘ at every would-be-parent who contemplates sex selection.

Which population cohort would be most open to questioning and challenging gender roles (as ‘essentially’ wives and mothers); has the greatest stake in mounting a challenge to sex selection; and may be amenable to change? Is it young women? Let’s talk to them and their families. Which cohort might oppose social realignment? Is it the older generation? Young men? Well, let’s talk to them as well.

Aamir Khan is a youth icon. And these are the conversations I wish he had started. They would have made great television, and serious progress on a social issue. It’s like Anna’s anti-corruption movement and the Jan Lokpal Bill. Populist rhetoric does not generate nuanced solutions. On sex selection,Satyamev Jayate chose a populist ‘truth’; and failed to push the envelope on the difficult, deeper, much needed conversation with a changing India.

(The author is a writer and activist, and member of the National Advisory Council. Views expressed here are personal)

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article3409175.ece

I & B Ministry Response for a complaint

Dear Friends,

I & B Ministry wants specific time & channel to be mentioned in our complaints.  Hence Pl let me know if the EMAMI Fair & Handsome cream for Men advertisement is appearing in the recent months…. if so what time…because I have not been seeing the advt telecast in past 1 month… or may be I have not been watching T.V so often….


Petition asking Emami Group to stop telecasting gender discriminating advertisement:

Fair and Handsome Cream for Men ‘Bailwan’ Advertisement should be withdrawn

We from M.A.S.E. S demand that Fair & Handsome Cream for Men ‘Bailwan’ Advertisement to be withdrawn


This is to bring to your notice the Emami Fair & Handsome ad that violates the advertising standards guidelines as laid down by ASCI.

The ad ridicules feminine qualities and thus discriminates against women. According to the code laid down by ASCI as follows :

No advertisement shall be permitted which derides any race, caste, colour, creed and nationality;

The ad also discriminates based on caste and colour by showing that dark-skinned people are not “handsome”.

These advertisements are against the code of conduct laid down by the the Advertising Standards Council of India. It is also against the code specified under rule 7 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and Rules

Please take immediate action by taking these advertisements off the air.

Thank you

To sign the petition please click   https://www.change.org/petitions/emami-group-stop-telecasting-gender-discriminating-bailwan-advertisement

or just leave your name, email id & any other comments you have in the comment column of this post.





Women and animals placed in the same ladder of oppression, and women and animals are raped via the male chauvinistic gaze. They still maintain the hierarchical ladder of men as greater than women, animals, nature and queer people. Hence the feminist liberation is not an isolated process; rather it involves the liberation of queer and animals.

Jacques John Joanne 

Okay…!!! We know well how the women are sexualized and objectified as sexual objects in the male chauvinistic advertisements. But there is a separate domain we have to analyze. The sexual objectification of animals and women and the combined representation of women and animals as the objects for eating and sexual gratification is the place where the custom of meat eating and oppression of women and third genders are linked.

Yes…Better than moving in a theoretical way let you glance through these pictures and once you have glimpsed to it in a different way, I bet you can observe how women and animals are objectified and pornographized.

Okay..!! Now I feel you can enter the discussion. As already the works of Carol.J.Adams had brought the connection that lies between the patriarchy and meat eating culture, through her books “sexual politics of meat” and “pornography of meat”, which covered the aspects of the veganism and oppression of women, this essay is an another effort to unify the patriarchal aspect of eating meat and sexual equation involved in this process.

Meat in our culture has several symbolic dimensions.  The psychoanalytic position of eating meat would be very much useful to find, how the sexuality is equated with eating meat.

It is often told that meat is the symbolic of the power and the meat eating people are associated with power, especially males. But do you think is there any logic behind this fact? Absolutely no..!!! Even the digestion process of meat is a very slow and complex process in humans. Our system is well suited for the uptake of the vegetarian foods, but still we have to note, there lays an ongoing debate on this fact.

Okay..!! So what does meat mean? And what does it represent sexually? As you had seen earlier from those pictures, “one which has to be eaten” is equated with seductive and sexy poses, which means “one which has to be sexed”. So, a chicken posing in a seductive way here has two dimensions of meanings. It is an animal and it is compared to women especially. Some of the pictures which depict the animals as men depict the power which males obtain from consuming a piece of meat. Still, that pictures are sexist, because it essentalize the bodies of men and women. A picture of male, one obtain from here represents a muscular male and it is connected that the muscles of the prey makeup the muscle of the men. So it is anti-queer basically. It again and again objectifies the body of men as muscular, and assigning them the term “male”, a perfect male, where the other males, whose body is not muscular, are treated as the sissy, girlish or feminine. So it has the hidden meaning of the transformation of a sissy to an ideal male of society. Many of people, who feel sissy feels that they has to make their physical body as like the ideal male body, and this transformation can make them “manly”, for which the concept of muscle building and meat are essentalized. So, here the advertisement is marked by its homophobic nature and constructing the hegemonious masculinity, which oppresses the queer people.

Okay..!! so what does the other dimension stands for? I mean the equation of the objects to be consumed with objects to be sexed. I could remember some lines from the cine songs, which could empirically relate you this concept.

“kozhi rusiyaa iruntha kozhiya vettu, kumari rusiyaa iruntha kumariya vettu”(“ if chicken is  tasty ate that, else if the young girl is tasty , taste her)

“saapida vaadaa, enna saapida vaadaa”(“ come and eat me man”)..

“sutta paal pola thekam thaandi unaku, athil paalaada konjam mattum velakku”(“hey girl your body is like milk, but the only exception is the layer of butter over it”)

So, these are some of the examples I can quote. Hope readers, can quote tones of descriptions like this. Okay..!!! So, why women are equated with animals? Why eating is equated with sex?

I could refer lacan here. Lacan was a prominent psychoanalyst whose work covered the aspect that the language is essentially phallic, characterized by the division between signifier and signified. But, what is the importance of that lacanian work here?

Yes, in each and every sacrifice the one who is sacrificed is an animal, which is a non-speaking subject. Any subject that is speaking is divided between the signifier-signified, but the animals as we know are not divided between the signifier-signified concepts, which mean they are apart from the human language. More concisely they are away from the language, the phallic function. What is non phallic is the one which is not phallic, which is women, who is assumed to be not divided between the signifier-signified. as animals are non speaking subjects, they are also viewed as non-phallic and the other non-phallic character, the women are found to be in the same plane for a male, who is the one who can be subjected to castration, simply the division between the signifier and signified which constitutes language. Hence the women and animals that are non-phallic, not essentially to be immersed in the sea of phallic is equated and they are compared. Hence unconscious representation of the oedipal wishes of incest is transformed to the plane of eating, where eating is equated with making sex, and hence the non-phallic objects are represented in an interchangeable manner. Simply that means a women becomes a symbol for animal and animal becomes a symbol for women.

But the question of the muscular construction is tied with the mythic father, who breaks incest and he is apart from the law of castration. Which means he can enjoy the incest, which is the core of the Oedipus complex theory of Sigmund Freud? So, what does this mean? In case of the totem meal, which represents the killing of this mythical father by the sons, because the father accounts for this Oedipus complex, by which he never allows the access to incest, the one which has to be sacrificed is selected as an non-speaking subject, which symbolically mean the one who is not divided between the signifier-signified, which is the mythical father. So, after the eating of the meal which is the symbolic of the mythical father, the subjects feels a power that has gained, which means the power against the castration threat. This is meaning of “power“what we frequently hear when a person eats meat, especially a male.


Hence meat eating is a symbol of patriarchy, and the modern advertisements which cover this aspect are again reproducing the structures of the patriarchal culture. Women are looked as animals, reduced to animals, and those aspects maintain the difference of the animals as something “other”, which must be governed and controlled by the man, the phallus and breaking of patriarchy is hence associated with the abolition of meat eating practice.


Moreover this is the aspect that maintains the replication of the structure of speceisism , which want to maintain a hierarchical ladder of men, women, animals and nature. The concept is essentially anti-queer, and the system called the “natural” and “anti-natural” arises from this concept. What is natural is nothing but the nature as defined by the concept of the patriarchal dominant class, which in this era rationalizes the control of animals and nature, destruction of nature, and oppression of women and maintain the role of women as the reproductive buckets , commercially abuses women, animals, people of color, queer people based on the concept of the natural/anti-natural.

Women and animals placed in the same ladder of oppression, and women and animals are raped via the male chauvinistic gaze. They still maintain the hierarchical ladder of men as greater than women, animals, nature and queer people. Hence the feminist liberation is not an isolated process; rather it involves the liberation of queer and animals.


  1. http://web.missouri.edu/~stonej/formulas7.html
  2. http://www.becomingabetterwoman.com/2011/01/objectifying-women-in-media.html
  3. http://genderviolence.tumblr.com/page/2
  4. http://www.foundshit.com/category/ads/page/11/
  5. http://acooboo.com/2010/08/31/big-budgets-and-free-hands-does-that-make-alcohol-ads-so-different/
  6. http://leaflette.org/2011/06/food-drink-funny-advertising/
  7. http://www.triroc.com/xcj/images/slideshow.gif

A Plea to Media Capitalists – Kotravai

I would like to start this letter with a question, are you consciously aware of what you are doing in the name of Television Programs, especially with Children and Women? If there could be a tool like T.R.P to measure the contributors of betrayals to the society, then it would rate Television Channels as the first cause. It would state the consequences of your television programs, the kind of ideologies and discrimination it sows in the society and also how it deceives the society from knowing the actual struggles in the next door.  The way you use Children and Women to market your program is excruciating and is repulsive.

We have reached a state that we are afraid by the way  our Children are made commodities of fame. We plea to you to allow them to be Children. Do not poison them with the poisonous teeth of your Camera and lights. You are snatching them of their innocence and egalitarianism.  This is heartrending.  If the purpose of the Child Talent Reality Shows is to expose the skills of the Children, why is it only reflecting the singing and dancing skills of Cinema? This is disseminating a wrong ideology amongst the Children that to be famous is to be a Cinema Personality.  With this connotation they are mutated to compromise anything in life for fame.  Do you think you this is reasonable?

You may not be aware or even if you are aware you may be least concerned about the psychological dilemma that a Child or even Parents go through.  You are also hammering a wrong perception that Children who posses the skills of Singing and Dancing are the talented ones and they are the one to be on limelight.  Because of this indoctrination, today most of the Children are forced to learn music and dance than the sports activities.  Moreover the challenges of getting an opportunity and fame in the Sports Arena are far far lesser than appearing on Television.  With your courteousness, nowadays once a Child attains 5 years of age he / she is put in music or dance classes and then he / she is consecrated to Television Channels.

Children who are assured of three meals a day and throught the year are the ones who can explore these opportunities.  Moreover the Children who are born in Brahmin families are the ones who have better reach on this because from those days Music and Dance (the so called Classical) are in their clutches only.  Any Music competition is judged only through the regulations of the Carnatic Music and Carnatic Musicians, mostly of the Brahmin Communities.  You may voice that non-brahmins also get opportunity in these competitions, but they are Children of the Upper Class / Rich Class /or of the Capitalists.  Here Economy wins over Discriminations. Is there a market or program for the Children of the Marginalized Communities? In case you telecast some programs about such Communities it is portrayed in such a way that it tries so hard to dig sympathy in the minds of viewers, but does not help to understand the cause behind this state of theirs. (So far in any advertisement no women or child has had a darker complexion, in case there appears one, she will be fair skinned but made up as dark skin for cosmetic advertisement or she will be servant maid, if it is He then he will be a mechanic).

If the Reality Shows are the arena for real Talents, why there is so much of ruckus made about it?  Why the participants are made to dress like a fancy dress competition? In the name of expression, why are Children made to emote seducing movements with seducing voice? Why do you give exposing dress to those young ones? Why are posters put up on Public walls and why haunt for votes? So far you have been exploiting Women’s breasts and naval for your survival now your target is Innocent Children.

To emote realistically, a child is made to show sexual expression on face and with voice to the opposite sex who happens to be the partner.  Is this going to develop skill or will develop sexual discrimination and sexual urge? In order get the attentions of the viewers you play with the emotions of them by putting slow motion trailers in which the Children sing such double meaning filmy item songs, which look like a call made with sexual desires.

In the male chauvinistic society one can only expect male chauvinistic films, male chauvinistic lyrics with double meaning and mocks made against women.  You are encouraging a male child to sing such vulgar songs and inculcating Male Chauvinism and Cheap ideologies about women right from childhood. There are tamil song lyrics which mean that “Come to my entrance and take my smell”, “Where will you go and sleep on those 3 days” etc., and it is disheartening to see the kids singing and dancing to those songs with those vulgar filmic expressions.  (At this juncture I would like to check if you allow your family Children or your Children to participate, sing and dance such vulgar songs in anybody else’s channels. Also could you please explain the importance and benefit of being famous, to the society).

In recent time we come across stories where a girl child is raped even at the age of 2.  So far Male Chauvinistic Literatures, Male Chauvinistic Society have been the main contributing factors to indoctrinate ideologies about women, now Media hits the list.  In the name of Posters all public walls are bedecked with Women’s breasts and buttocks and with great heart you Capitalists have contributed your best in triggering the sexual urge of a man (who posses lesser control over their senses) and thus contributing to the increase of Rapes and sexual harassments in the Society. We are highly thankful for this worthy contribution of yours to the Society

My reverent plea to you is that please do not captivate our Children to become slaves of Globalization, Vulnerable Slaves of Materialism and Slaves of Popularity for the benefit of a Capitalist need.  If you intend to honestly promote the skills of Children, then please provide a stage where there is no competition, you may do a basic scrutinizing behind the screen and telecast every child who posses interest and skills.  Let the Honorable Judges stop acting smart and stop bullying the Kids with their great skills but encourage Children to sing songs other than Cinematic, Carnatic Songs and Dance too.  Let there be programs where they can expose their Skills with their actual Childhood Components rather than imitating the Vulgar Cinema Songs. If possible please exclude Children from the Idiot Box, because the World of Children is much much bigger than the idiot Box and it is outside the walls. Please do not shrink their world inside four walls.

Incase if you can survive only by conducting such Child Slavery Programs please provide equal opportunity to Children of all class and all communities but keep them away from Cinema.  This will help in creating an egalitarian Society in the future. Please do not apply your Capitalist Tactics amongst our Children. For years together the Capitalist Society has been insisting that a Human Being is worth his or her life only if he or she is famous.  This politics is only helping in uplifting your economy and not ours. On the contrary it only contributes in creating soulless, heartless human Machines in the society.  Until recent times your Capitalist Male Chauvinistic politics was devastating Family Institution now its target is Women and Children.

We have a choice to approach the Court against you but we as poors do not have the Economical, Political and Social Strength to win big powers. Anyway that will not help because there is always a point to say if it is the Child’s will then it can not be considered as Child Slavery.  It’s all about papers and rules and not about the Objective.  The Capitalists produce goods targeting the Upper and Rich Class people and hence you also target those class people and use their Children and Women tactically in the name of Reality Shows or Talk Shows, which is of no use to the society.

If honestly you can build Social Consciousness amongst the Children you should be taking these Children to the Schools in most backward, marginalized communities and encourage them to see the other side of our State, the struggling class. They should also be exposed to the hidden History which is not taught in the Schools governed by the Ruling Class. You should be identifying such Field Workers and conduct workshops and seminars for Children. With this current Political Trend we have lost hope about an egalitarian society and our hopes are only our Children who are the ‘future pillars’. Please do not transform them into selfish adults and contribute to further divisions and transmutations. Are you not contributing to the destruction of the society?

The Famous Children produced by you are mere puppets sucked by fame and money.  They become insensitive to class struggles, Social Problems.  They do not even know how paddy is sown and grown, the struggle of Independence, the loss of lives, Political manipulations nothing. You may ask why they need politics. In future they could be one of the Rulers, Governors and at that time with their insensitivity they may even encourage Corruption in the Society. You may also stop addressing these Kids or Young Generation as Future Historical Pillars, because you are only promoting today’s upper Class or tomorrows Capitalists, they are not the real representatives of the imbalanced society like ours.

Even if there is no assurance for three meals a day, this current political system (previous govt as of today)  has provided Television in all homes and thus made it easy for Capitalists to brain wash the minds of the people.  Before you convert us mere commodities for your financial growth please let us free.

(This article was written on my blog on Dec 20,2010 – Tamil version is available in http://saavinudhadugal.blogspot.in/2010/12/blog-post_08.html)