#WomenNotObjects Campaign 2019: Addressing the Misogyny in Bollywood

Changemaker Chandana Hiran @that_desi_feminist is calling out Bollywood for its blatant misogyny with her #WomenNotObjects Campaign. Chandana created a petition to Make a Statement Against Bollywood’s Treatment of Women as Sex Objects, which as of this writing has over 55,000 signatures and is steadily increasing.

Chandana kindly offered to share her #WomenNotObjects campaign journey to date:

#WomenNotObjects has been a year long journey and a year long campaign. I’ve achieved many milestones throughout this campaign. It’s been published in multiple newspapers including ZeeNews, Mid-day, National Herald, and my story has been shared on multiple platforms including Humans of Bombay & Women’s web. So many celebrities have come forward and supported the cause, including filmmaker R Balki.

IIFA (The International Indian Film Academy awards) too at a point was positive about the campaign and did promise to make a statement. However they still had a few problematic songs and sexist remarks at their show. Had they paid attention to even the first three lines of my petition, they wouldn’t have introduced Katrina Kaif as “Chikni Chameli” & “Afghan Jalebi“. It just goes on to show how lightly the voice of over 56,000 people is taken by the Bollywood industry. They are forgetting that their industry not only runs on item songs and objectification of women, but ALSO on the audience that watches them. An aware audience will cost the industry much more if they do not change their methods and actually use their creativity instead of just churning garbage visuals and crass lyrics into objectification of women.

Even though IIFA did not come through with its promise, I still consider this petition a victory if it has caused even one person to re-think on the content that they consume. Awareness is the precedent to all change. And although I realise that change takes time, awareness towards achieving that change is in our hands. I believe the awareness that this campaign has started will spread, and it will bring change. 

At its event, IIFA spoke about gender equality at home and said “Barabari ghar se shuru hoti hai” (roughly translates to ‘equality begins at home’). In the 90s we couldn’t have expected an awards function to speak up about how household chores should be equally divided amongst both the partners, but it happened today. So maybe a few years down the line IIFA will make a statement against item numbers too and shun them from their show.

Maybe our fight is just ahead of its time 🙂

All we can do is keep the conversation going around it, so that we can live to see the change we want in the world!

In her petition on change.org, Chandana writes:

Afghan Jalebi. Bomb. Bandook. Zandu balm. Bottal. Kaddu. Halwa. 

These are the words that none of us use to refer to our women friends, co-workers, bosses, doctors, pilots, chartered accountants, mothers and sisters in our daily lives. Then why are we sitting silently and tolerating Bollywood’s continued objectification of women?

Objectification means treating a person like a thing, without regard to their dignity.

Bollywood needs a reminder that we are #WomenNotObjects. That’s why I have started this campaign.’

‘I knew I had to do something when my 7-year old cousin belted out the song. “Hai tujh pe right mera, tu hai delight mera, tera rasta joh roku tokne ka nahi” (Which loosely translates as “I have every right on you. If I block your path, don’t protest”).

These lyrics go against the very idea of consent!

The result is that men and boys are going around believing that it is fun and acceptable to stalk a woman and harass her,especially after she says no! 

And its not just the boys! These lyrics affect women and girls too. They teach them to be submissive and accept lewd commentsstalking and abuse as normal.

I refuse to submit! As a woman living in the 21st century India, I am angry and fed up of entertainment being used as an excuse.

In fact, Prasoon Joshi, the renowned lyricist who now heads the Central Board of Film Certification recently admitted “We have portrayed women as sex objects in movies, taking things so lightly. We have failed women as an industry

Its high time the film industry begins to fix the damage done.’ 

Check out Chandana’s year-long campaign journey here

Sign Chandana’s petition at www.change.org/womennotobjects

Follow Chandana (@that_desi_feminist) on Instagram

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