Article: Ending Misogyny in Hollywood and Bollywood

By Rev. Dr. Joseph D’souza for Washington Times

The Harvey Weinstein scandal should do more than evoke moral outrage.

It should even do more than ban the notorious “casting couch” or force production companies to implement more stringent personnel policies to protect women from sexual harassment and violence.

Mr. Weinstein’s scandal — and the mountain of accusations against other media executives — should challenge us to confront what’s actually rotten at the core of the film industry: its dehumanizing portrayal of women as sexual objects.

For the better part of the past century, both Hollywood and its Indian counterpart Bollywood have faithfully exploited sex as a fail-proof marketing strategy. Studios make billions of dollars every year producing movies that reinforce misogynistic stereotypes against women. International hits like the James Bond franchise have finessed it to such an extent that the films would not be considered complete without the so-called “Bond girl,” a character who epitomizes the concept of a woman as a sexual object.

In Bollywood, the exotic dancing, suggestive lyrics and the consistent portrayal of women using their bodies to achieve their goals — mainly to attract men — scream that women’s value in society is in their ability to satisfy male desire. And this is where this narrative turns dangerous, because it abets destructive social beliefs and behaviors.

“For most Indian men, social interactions with the opposite sex are severely limited. What they see on screen guides much of their perceptions of women,” opined journalist Ruchika Tulshyan on Forbes. “Portraying women as sex objects has far-reaching ramifications from normalizing eve-teasing and stalking, to glorifying rape and murder.”

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