When the dastardly incident involving a 23 year old female student in Delhi took place in December of 2011, there was little else that one spoke of or heard being spoken of. Where ever one looked – newspapers and Internet, television and radio, street vendors and morning walkers, children and adults, rich and poor – it was the same topic of conversation, seen from every angle, dissected into tiny bits. So many reasons were given for why this malaise has wrecked our society; so many solutions were pulled out of thinking and un-thinking hats. During those very troubled days, I read a post on Facebook which, at least at the time, was suggesting a new perspective, amidst the din of castration and hanging and all-men-being-evil. It stood out for being slightly sympathetic, the gist being, our boys have no role models, no source, no roots, no grounding. Women have always been on the receiving end and through the ages have in small measure been fighting against this trend and changing the lives of others – they become role models for the hundreds and thousands who will be born and many of whom will continue to make that dent. But what of our boys? Who do they have as role models? Look around you – who is there for them to emulate? Their fathers? But they themselves had no one to redefine integrally a notion that has been embedded or imprinted in our DNA. They may be respectful to women but do they go out into the world strongly reinforcing that respect, making sure it is understood and assimilated just like the women who have decided to break their shackles? If they did that, they would then become role models and make a similar dent. But in the meantime, our boys remain lost and floundering in that illusionary world in which they are brought up where there is a hierarchy in gender, to be used or abused. Everything around them reiterates this idea – academics, sports, intimacy, jobs, children – the stereotypes of how a man should be and how a woman must be are displayed in practically every aspect of daily life.
Films are one such medium which undoubtedly have a strong influence on the human mind and if used consciously can change the way we think. In the earlier years, many films were used to send out a concrete message even while garbed as entertainment; there was beauty in form and simplicity in thought; there was a subtle but clear imparting of values. However, off late, in films across the world, we have a churning out more of the stereotype rather than any revolutionary ideas. We all know how the Indian Film Industry portrays women and there is no need to get into it here but what is very interesting is when someone from half way across the world echoes the very same thought, in the exact same context. Darkness can set in any part of the world until and unless the world itself awakens to the Light and in one, concerted effort, comes together to cleanse its DNA once and for all.
(Thank you Ted Talks)