Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This is how one can question the depiction of women in media. Does a woman go for it or is it the media which exploits her? Twenty years ago, I interviewed a famous model who was known for showing off her body in skimpy clothes on calendars and posters for a liquor company. Women’s organizations were up in arms about her exposure. Her answer was, ‘It’s my body; I will do what I want to, with it’. That in a nutshell, sums up why women are depicted the way they are in the media. It’s their choice-the women’s I mean. In cinema, women are treated like dumb, decorative dolls, clothed or otherwise to suit the director’s fancy. Even the beautiful and talented ones are ready and willing to bare all for big bucks. Models are eager to walk down the ramp in revealing clothes or pose for pictures seductively to advertise cars ! Rape and romantic scenes in cinema treat women as Barbie dolls and actresses are more than willing to be mauled and manhandled by the villains. Who is forcing them? If they do not want to do it, automatically the force will shift to their talent. Till these women decide to respect their body and refuse to be used anyway, the women’s movement will not go forward to break the stereotyping of women as commodities. No one can help willing victims.
All women are working women but we tend to label only those who have a paid job outside the home as ‘working women’. Women make up 45 percent of the world’s workforce. Yet women account for 70 percent of the world’s population living in poverty. Depressing statistics but I will not dwell on that aspect. In fact, there are many issues like why women don’t help other working women. Managerial mimicry (trying to imitate the style of male colleagues, just to be accepted by them), glass ceiling, sexual harassment, discrimination, equal opportunity etc,. Having been a working woman for over thirty years, I have noticed that successful women rarely facilitate the success of other women. On the other hand, you can expect help. Support from male colleagues while female counterparts can be vicious. When I was targeted for dismissal by the management in Public Sector Undertaking where I was a Deputy General Manager, not one female colleague spoke up for me. Nor did the organization for women in Public Sector, take cognizance of the harassment meted out to me and help me out. I had to battle it out myself. Naturally, it is difficult for women to break the glass ceiling and get ahead, unless you play the game the man’s way. For some, the board room door is via a bedroom and hats off to some who have made it to the top, without taking short cuts. There are some women who have had to compromise with their career growth, thanks to a possessive husband and selfish family members. A troubling phenomenon is that competent women are often penalized or hounded. That is why it is important for working women to join women’s organizations. Women’s groups offer a safe environment to share concerns and exchange ideas. They provide development services as well as emotional support on a formal and informal basis. Guild of Women Achievers (GOWA) is my contribution to this need.