The problem with pointing fingers at 'movie screen misogyny'.

The idea of course is noble and praise worthy. However the focus and methodology is all wrong. I am talking about the video featuring IPS women police officers training their guns on movie content for propagating misogyny and the influence it has on Indian youth.

So here's the problem. There's no doubt Indian movie fare is misogynistic. However to identify celluloid content as the culprit is akin to barking up the wrong tree. To deduce the 'real culprit' behind misogyny, you have to differentiate between normative behavior, social environments, and symbolic environments. Misogyny as part of normative behavior in youth or adults is an outcome of social conditioning via a default social environment. Pray, what drives such environmental influences? The default culture in place. Collectivist cultures that discourage and even bar individual expressions, unfortunately, dish out worse restrictive norms for women. I mean, within such cultures women have it worse (in comparison to the individual). Young people who grow up within such stifling liberty-denying social environments (discriminatory towards women and disadvantageous groups in particular) end up imbibing misogyny as a behavioral norm. The tragedy is, within such social sanction, they don't and can't identify misogyny as wicked.

Media, entertainment and its offshoots represent symbolic environments and toe the line and boundaries provided by social norms. So here's what happens. If misogyny is part of culture, it will creep into media and entertainment content and pass off as perfectly legitimate. An evidence to this is the hoots and whistles misogynistic content on screens receive from their cinema audiences. So you see, misogyny in Indian cinema is a natural outcome of social misogyny. It ain't the other way round. That is, local celluloid isn't setting the norm, its fastidiously following it.

If police officers want to fix misogyny in society they must start with fixing culture and social environments that influence normative behavior. The best illustration to the social stifling of individualistic choices by youth in India is the recent Youth survey. You see, culture is the culprit. It's why the young in India can't seem to agree to individual choices (for example, the choice of what to eat) that are contrary to what is acceptable social behavior.

My bet is, it'll be a while  before misogyny is given the boot in Indian movies. Why? 'Cos it'll be a while before current culture-driven social norms that don't see a wee bit of problem with misogyny is given the boot!


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