My advertising prof used to say “The only things that sell are money, power and sex.” Oh yes, we all know that. Especially the last bit. Probably never has sex been so big as it is these days. Talk item numbers, bar girls, Emraan Hashmi, AIDS awareness campaigns, rapes, same-sex marriages….okay, so we are getting out of the closet finally. At the cost of sounding like a snooty intellectual, are we really progressing?
I’m tired of hearing everyone tearing down Mallika Sherawat. Why? I just am. So the lady had a bit-role in the movie (No, I haven’t seen it, I’ll choose to believe it…I really don’t think the west is giving up its bias towards the ‘third-worlders’ that easily). So fine we’ve all heard what Chan had to say about ‘her pair’. Why is that supposed to be irksome?
On one hand we have the unabashedly ambitious “I know what I want and how to get it so the world can stuff its judgement you-know-where”. And all the really vicious mud-slinging that the rest of the world does to that woman. Remember Urmila Matondkar? How about Isha Koppikar who started off her career with an item number? Or bigger-in-the-spotlight-supposedly-delectable Bips?
On the other hand we have the parade of beauty queens. It is old news now but I’ll re-iterate. India is a new market for a lot of industries, cosmetics and personal care products only one of them. And this entire beauty business is an elaborate marketing plan to wean more and more women into the ‘prettier/taller/fairer/clearer skin/glossier hair/slimmer body’ whirlpool. Of course they are laughing all the way to the bank. And the starry-eyed aspirants sigh longingly at a pretty Priyanka or green-eyed Aishwarya.
Which reminds me, what is it about this woman after all? What is so great about being a Bond girl anyway? You get to be seduced and undressed by a goodlooking older man….one in line of several such. Big deal. The only memory I have of Halle Berry in the movie is that she looked absolutely ravishing in a bikini. So much for more meaningful roles for women.
There are a few women in the public spotlight who seem to have lived life on their own terms. By curious coincidence, their’s are the same names that populate the list of Everyone’s favorite bitching targets. Or if they are really PR-savvy, you’ll find them instead on the list of Sexiest Women. Not to be confused with the ranking of Most Successful Women (which could easily be re-titled Bitchiest Bitches ever). Consider: Who in their right minds would call Ekta Kapoor lovely? Or Archana Puran Singh beautiful? Or for that matter, Kareena Kapoor smart? Or Koena Mitra/Isha Koppikar/Urmila Matondkar intelligent? For that matter even I can’t seem to imagine that a Rakhee Sawant or a Bipasha Basu just might have some brains. See where I’m going with this?
I tell you the world hasn’t changed a whit since the days of courtesans and royal mistresses. Women have used sex to gain power from time immemorial. And been slandered for it. There is absolutely no other way to gain power. Phooey to intelligence and reason. Sex/beauty is the one single gateway to independence. And if a woman doesn’t toe that line, she’s anyway branded a slut or a bitch. The day when a woman can look at the mirror, see a fat, wrinkly-skinned, spotty complexioned reflection and see nothing amiss is the day this equation may change. I don’t feel that way now and I don’t know a single woman who does.
The equation is still very much:
Man, the powerful & Woman, the beautiful.