Over the decades, the world has evolved, and so have women’s rights. Unfortunately, society still views women as unequal to men, regardless of the efforts made to change that perception; thus, women in society have been limited. More often than not, women are capable of achieving so much more, but the world decides for her instead. One of the most evident examples is how women are treated in mainstream media.
The perception of women in India is the biggest evidence of stereotyping. One of the examples of how stereotypes against women work in India, is through movie productions. It is believed that Kollywood movies, movies that centre the story on male characters, are the ones that receive a huge amount of audiences and success, while movies that revolve around female characters could turn out as a ‘flop’. This belief has been brought along for years in Kollywood, until Nayanthara, the female Superstar of Kollywood, broke the stereotype.
Nayanthara’s first women-centric movie was a horror film called “Maya”. The film was a success, followed by several of her other films. As of 2019, Nayanthara is the highest-paid actress in Kollywood because the audience has accepted her, for her capability to entice the viewers, which was a privilege that was mainly reserved for male characters only. However, Nayanthara changed the game, by making a few movies where the gender of the main character did not matter. We can see this in movies like Imaika Nodigal, Aaram, Dora and Kolamavu Kokila. These are films where the female character is the lead, until Nayanthara broke the stereotype, extending the offer of her movies to her audiences.
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Discrimination, domination, and double standards are some of the unjust ways women are treated in society, especially in mainstream media. Women face various kinds of difficulties throughout their professional lives. For example, when being portrayed within a certain limit, women may start to lose confidence in themselves and their abilities, therefore making it difficult for them to gain a higher position in their respective field. Statistics by the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy show that even the United States placed 90th within the world ranking for women in national legislatures. Today, media is the most potent force shaping cultural norms, and women only hold 3% of influential positions in the mainstream media. However, the message that the younger generations are presented through mainstream media, is that a woman’s self-esteem and control lie in her beauty, youth, and sexuality rather than her capacity as a leader.
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To overcome these situations, the changes have to begin with us. We, the current and future generations of women should set our ways towards women empowerment, by taking a step day-by-day until it leads to what we deserve. Even though it may be difficult, we need to keep fighting for a position in the media so that women will also be represented and be given equal opportunities. In addition, both men and women should get an equal amount of payment, because what someone should be paid should not rely on their gender. Instead, pay should be about recognizing their hard work and effort.
In the eyes of the media, a woman is often portrayed in objectifying roles, more often seen as a trophy. Women are worth significantly more than the way they are treated, as they have the capability of achieving as much as a man is able to achieve, so the stereotype and portrayal in itself is false and unjust. Women can achieve so much more if they are given an opportunity and mutual respect, whether it is in the media or in society as a whole. So, why is it that unequal treatment of women still persists to this day?
By: Sharryl Lawrence