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Why a video featuring 99 privileged women with hair flying across the screen doesn't serve the purpose for the common woman in India

Madhuri Banerjee http://MadhuriBanerjee

Updated: April 10, 2015, 5:15 PM IST
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First of all I want to say I'm all for women empowerment. I completely agree that it is a woman's choice to get married, have a child, wear whatever she wants and choose her life and decisions.

Vogue's empowerment campaigns though leave me a little confused.

For example the first video was of Alia Bhatt getting into a car full of male strangers and going home safely. I love Alia. But I don't get the campaign. Yes we need to make our streets safe. But don't we also need to teach our girls and women to be aware, be safe, be bold, be vigilant, be smart. Maybe that video should have been about Alia getting out, fixing her car, holding a wrench when a car full of men drives up and says, "Thanks but I got it covered." And that should have ended with #Mychoice to be bold, my choice to be brave, my choice to change the world.

Vogue's 2nd empowerment video was of men being told not to cry. And then in the end we see a man hurting his wife/ partner and the very lovely Madhuri Dixit comes and says "Aadmi rulate bhi toh nahin hai."

Huh?

What has that got to do the empowerment or have any relation? What did that video actually want to do? So men who don't cry will hurt their wives? And men who do will be pansies? Whaaa?

In fact the video should have Madhuri Dixit saying, "It's ok for men to cry. Take a woman's support because we can give our shoulders to you too."

Men should be sensitive. Men should cry. And women should understand that. Women should raise their sons to cry and feel and talk and discuss and that's how you will have a generation of men who will express their feelings to their wives and girlfriends and never have misunderstandings! Yes they shouldn't hurt women. But you're not teaching that by this video.

So let's come to Deepika's video. Yes I know there are 99 women in it. But it's her voice and Homi's vision. So while my Whatsapp groups are having massive debates on how beautiful it is and how it is always a woman's choice to live life her way I have a few issues with this video and script.

First of all what the hell does "my odour, your anarchy" mean? Or for that matter many other phrases.

Yes it is a woman's choice as I've said in the beginning but let's talk about EMPOWERMENT for a second.

How does 99 privileged women with hair flying across the screen with a voice over of bindi, odour, sex have anything to do with the common woman and her empowerment?

I would change the video in 4 ways:

1. Had a mix of languages that women across the country speak. We have 30 languages. Why only English?

2. Got a mix of ordinary women with just a few celebs from different careers like a Chanda Kochchar or Indra Nooyi who can say "Don't judge me because I've worked hard to be here."

3. Get men who also believe in empowerment. Not all men are horrible people who will rape, criticise, judge and slander women. Have men in the video saying, "I'm a feminist." And "I believe all men and women are equal." "I will protect you because we need to change the world together."

4. Take everyday situations to depict how we need empowerment.

For example a woman driving a car who says "Don't judge me because I am a woman driver."

A woman employee who is wearing what she likes and says, "I don't need to sleep my way to the top. I'm smart enough. Don't judge me."

A housewife who says, "I don't want to sleep with you tonight. I'm not having an affair! Don't judge me."

A girl who wants to give up her job and get married, "I believe in love and want to be a mother. Don't judge me if I give up my job!"

A woman who is overweight and says, "I am a National Award winner. And you're still judging me on my weight?"

A village woman who will say in her language with subtitle below, "I refuse to have more than one child. I am not barren. Don't judge me."

I believe in empowerment. I believe these are the voices that need to be heard from women AND men across the country. Speaking sentences that resonate. That make sense. That we can agree with. That will raise a debate on how we can change our thinking. And truly become empowered.

First Published: April 10, 2015, 5:15 PM IST

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