There are certain ideas, notions and norms that are best left in the past. Last week, I saw a recently released Indian film that tells the tale of a simple, loving family hit by unusual circumstances that put it in a fight against the law. The story follows the family’s interesting journey to create a believable cover story, complete with alibis, which put the whole family away from the scene of the crime. The movie has already proven to be a commercial success within a week of its release.
While I enjoyed the second half of the film, I had difficulty swallowing the basic premise upon which the story was based. A young man tries to blackmail the older daughter of the family with video footage of her showering, taken without her consent. In an attempt to get the footage away from him, she accidentally ends up killing the man, and buries his body to hide the evidence. The way the situation was handled in the movie was not exactly a case of victim-blaming, but it does little to incriminate the man.
At college, surrounded by forward-thinking visionaries, it is easy to forget that we are not even close to representative of the rest of the world. As I watched the movie, I was irritated by how intensely the daughter reacted, and the fact that the man expected a severe reaction from her. I hated how he expected to get what he wanted, how weak and powerless she was and how she would not dare to go to the police. She doesn’t go to the police or media because she is afraid her reputation would suffer equally if the video itself had been released. It makes no sense that this mentality exists in the world.
The biggest issue with the film is primarily an issue with Indian society, and then with society as a whole. I cannot blame the movie for portraying reality. Much of the world continues to perpetuate patriarchal notions that a woman’s worth comes from her body. My heart sinks each time I think of the millions of young girls who will watch this movie and will be influenced or brainwashed into accepting a dependent role in society. While this was probably not the main purpose of the film, it is an unfortunate but real side effect. The girl in the movie is representative of many girls around the world. The blackmailer’s power over her comes from her expectations of society’s reaction to the video. She believes she would lose her reputation.
I want to live in a world where there aren’t negative repercussions for a woman due to a choice that a man makes. For this to happen, society has to change. If there was no audience for such videos, he would not have such power over her. I am proud to be a part of a time and culture when equality is reaching new highs and people are doing their part to bring to light the ugliness lurking in the shadows. But although my Facebook wall has recently been full of rainbows and happiness, in other parts of the world, oppression is the norm. The ideals that contributed to the premise of the movie put women in a box and keep them there. It’s high time that we leave these antiquated notions in the past and retain only those that contribute to a higher quality of life for everyone.
Yes, I am idealistic. Most of us are, as we should be. This is how change happens; little by little, person by person. We see the world the way it ought to be, and work toward making it a reality. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has”.
Anushka Kannan is a rising sophomore in the McDonough School of Business. Preserving the Past appears every other Friday at thehoya.com.
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