#FeministMondays | Women On Television

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Have you seen how they portray women on television?


I don’t watch much television these days. Well, especially the Hindi Entertainment channels. It has been so for quite a few years now. And no, it’s not because I’m some sort of a snob. It’s just that I cannot quite fathom the garbage that is propagated through that medium in the name of entertainment. There was a time when there were characters like Shanti on television but now we suddenly seem to have gone back in time.


I have bone to pick with the creators of the shows which portray women as these self-sacrificing, unambitious puppets. Or, if ambitious, then only as a vamp. As if real women, good women do not have any ambitions apart from that of the kitchen.


Entertainment is a huge medium which has the power to impact society with a positive light. But none of the Hindi or even Bengali television shows that I have fleetingly caught a few frames of seem to want to do that. I don’t know about the other regional language programs but from what I hear they are no different either.


Why do they write such regressive roles for women on television? #FeministMondays #Women Click To Tweet


What gets my goat is that the representation of a perfect woman is of one who stays within the four walls of the house, toils day and night for her family without complaining. Any deviation is considered evil in the very literal sense. What this does is reinstate this idea in the minds of the millions who follow the shows religiously that women are best suited inside homes. And trust me when I say this that it does a world of harm to those women with dreams to do something, be something more than just a wife or a daughter-in-law.


Women in television shows or even movies are seldom shown to have a career focus. Or, even if they start out pursuing higher education, the moment they are married, the story shifts to follow the same old beaten path. Pick any show and I’ll point out at least 2 extremely regressive aspects of it. And that’s a very conservative number.


Why are women on most Indian Television shows shown to have no aspirations? #FeministMondays #women Click To Tweet


Perhaps it’s the large percentage of audience they want to cater to. Or, they are still stuck in archaic times or simply bad storytellers. I don’t know. But it simply makes no sense to me. It’s like having the power to change the world for the better yet choosing to detonate a bomb instead.


What gets my goat is that the representation of a perfect woman is of one who stays within the four walls of the house, toils day and night for her family without complaining.


Why only the shows in movies since the advertising industry, or at least a part of it, still seems to be lurking in the past. According to them, women are only suitable to be mothers or air hostesses, provided they are fair. They don’t flinch propagating skin colour bias, not one bit. Fair people are confident and dark skinned folks are not? Really?


They can’t seem to think beyond women as housewives who love cooking 20 different things for breakfast every morning. News flash, no woman does, housewife or working. We are not so unidimensional. The kitchen is not the centre of our existence. I know housewives who do so much more, are so much more than an entity in the kitchen.


The kitchen is not the centre of a woman’s existence.


Then there are those advertisements which seem based on the premise of females being the laundromat of their families. Yes, really. Women either cook, wash clothes or scream at their dead husband for not taking insurance. They don’t show that women are sharing more and more financial responsibilities today. They don’t show that there is more to a woman than her kitchen or her cosmetics.

I don’t understand which world these creators live in. Is it the same world where women walk shoulder to shoulder with their spouses to provide for and protect their families? Is it the same world where not all women love cooking? Is it the same world where marriage doesn’t necessarily mean the culmination of all ambitions or aspirations for women? Because the shows and ads that are on air these days certainly don’t make it seem to so.


I haven’t watched these serials for ages now for I refuse to validate such nonsense. Advertisements, I can’t avoid, so that’s there. What about you?





This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie РWe Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.

Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.





Linking to #mg hosted by Mackenzie Glanville


15 thoughts on “#FeministMondays | Women On Television

  1. I have stopped watching these regressive shows long ago. It is almost the same content being tweaked and twisted in another setting again and again. Wonder how the rest of the population digests it. I miss the days of Shanti and Lifeline. Stars like Tanvi Azmi and Mandira Bedi oozed strength into those powerful characters unlike the dumb bahus of today’s shows who dress, talk and act alike.
    Vinodini recently posted…Snapshots of Queen Elizabeth ParkMy Profile

  2. Oh how much I hate those advertisements… Like serious, what’s this obsession for fair skin. It’s ridiculous to think that even today these advertisements and TV shows are telecast. Life is so more than that.

  3. I’m feeling very lucky that I’ve got at least a few roles on tv to watch with strong female leads. We do need a lot more though! #mg

  4. I hear you Naba and I have given up on Hindi entertainment channels years ago! I cant abide the mindless stuff thats churned out there in the name of family shows! They are not regressive or sterotypical but plain rot as they are pounding home the fact that women are no-good for anything other than kitchen and bedroom!!
    I recently watched the series Big little lies which won Nicole Kidman the Emmy and is on wife abuse; brilliant show and I just loved the portrayls on women in it! Its a must watch and I would recommend it to you to get out of the blues on the saas bahu serials and watch it to applaud women who strive to fight the abuse and how!!!
    SHALINI BAISIWALA recently posted…A point of connection [ #WritingBravely ]My Profile

  5. Doesn’t it feel like sometimes the more we progress into the future, the more backwards we become? Last night I went to see Bladerunner 2049 at the cinema and yet again, in a mainstream Hollywood film, made by men, women were subject to holograms, sex objects, housemaids and so on. Sadly nothing changes which feels so frustrating X #MG

  6. Oh I hear you. It is indeed sad. But I think as much as responsible creators, responsible watchers are needed too. If most people jist refuse to watch this nonsense, then automatically it will make an impact.

  7. I’m going to assume you mean Indian television? Because there are quite strong characters on the international ones. But yes, I get your point. Also remember all that hoohah about that show that was plugged off air recently? The one with the 9y old boy and 18yo girl? And the amount of support it got – man, so there are still people who enjoy watching such regressive stuff.
    Sid recently posted…Slow Down and Live MoreMy Profile

  8. True. I also do not watch any of the Indian shows. Shanti and the likes used to be my favorite too back in the day. I wish things change.

  9. I can’t speak for Indian Television but over here in the States, it has gotten better with strong female characters that I really enjoy. However, over here even women in those roles are portrayed physically as sexual fantasies for the young, unemployed adult male who still lives in his parent’s basement and no social skills to speak of to talk to real women. There is a lot of pressure for women to look perfect and it doesn’t seem to matter whether she’s smart or not. That’s another way in which sexism rears its ugly head. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’ve learned something new today about another part of the world and what women have to deal with. It’s sad that we haven’t gotten past this stuff by now. We are supposed to be so much more evolved than this. #mg
    Michelle Kellogg recently posted…Rockin’ Quote #13: ‘Tis Near HalloweenMy Profile

  10. This is one of my pet peeves too. No matter how strong or independent a girl is, the moment she’s married she dons that sari and man gal sutra and completely gives up her life as she know it. Also, no matter how the serials start they always degenerate into a family drama – of course with regressive women characters.
    The trouble I think is that Indian television caters to too vast an audience and they sink to the lowest common denominator. Needless to say that’s highly irresponsible.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Candlelight dinners and other diversionsMy Profile

  11. I simply detest Hindi serials. Stopped watching them ages ago for similar reasons. I don’t watch TV at all except for select English shows and old Hindi films these days. Can’t put up with the nonsense they air.

    But the fact is as long as there are viewers for this kind of melodramatic nonsense, the serials will stay. It’s only the educates upper middle class that understands these are pure fiction. For the rest it’s entertainment. Sigh.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…Greek Yoghurt from Danone: #TheHealthySwapMy Profile

  12. You said it! I can’t believe the regressive TV shows on Indian television. I haven’t watched any in ages and when I go back home and see my Mom watching any new one I cringe and make her shut the idiot box. Recently I have had my parents glued to some good international movies!
    There needs to be better representation. Our movies are slowly changing, hope the content on T.V. gets better too.

  13. I don’t watch ,such television, but have to agree that the new I do watch do seem to portray women as ‘sexy’ I think in Australia we have moved away from women in the kitchen or home, but still it is all about eye candy for the males unfortunately #mg

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