Usha
I saw a telugu film Stri which was screened on DD around International women's day. It was the story of a woman hopelessly in love with a womanising, alcoholic, gambling, good-for-nothing guy. She forgives him every time he commits a crime and tries to get him out of it, even when he sets her hut on fire while she is sleeping inside because she refuses to give him her chain which he demands for a prostitute he is enamoured with. The villagers save her but she risks their goodwill by refusing to testify against her lover. Even when she finds him with the other woman, she only blames her for trying to steal her husband while she is willing to forgive him. In the end she is about to be handed over to the police for helping him steal some cargo from a boat hoping he could have a fresh start. In her heart she knows that he would take the money straight to the prostitute while she would suffer beatings in the hands of the police. The film ends with her saying "But once he has spent the money he will have no one to go to and he will come back to me as I am the only one who really loves him."

I was angry, furious and in tears. Why was this woman shown in a favourable light? Why did this film win awards? Why was it shown in International film festivals? Was she someone to be admired? Was she a woman to be celebrated? Is this a celebration of the all forgiving, suffering, masochistic Bhartiya Naari? A perpetuation of the culture that deified Nalayani?
We all know it happens around us everyday - in the lives of our domestic helps. We know it happened in the years when women were helpless and dependent. And sometimes even to educated working women today. The other day a relative was telling me how her colleague puts up with an alcoholic husband who has lost his job and spends half her money so she has to struggle to make ends meet. Apparently when he is sober he is the most loving husband and she feels helpless to leave him, especially now that he is jobless and has no one else. She blames it on his circumstances. She consults astrologers in the hope of the stars changing and bringing miraculous changes in their life.
Why can't she see that he is exploiting her kindness and leave him and realise that is the only way he will come to his senses?! It is not a show of strength but one of weakness - one that is not willing to let go and help him seek professional help. Or do such women enjoy a sense of power in being there when they come back destroyed every time? If so, they both need psychiatric help.

Why do we need to showcase films that celebrate such doormats? I agree that it celebrates the capacity of a woman to love and forgive. But I think the need of the hour is to tell women to stand up for their rights and not be forgiving of such criminals. The girl in Stri is so drunk with her suicidal sacrificial tendencies that she requests the writer she meets on the boat to write her story. For what? Immortalise her stupidity? Does she expect to acquire the status of a Sati and be worshipped for her lack of self worth and sense?

I remember being brought up on a diet of such stories of sacrifice and masochism. Women burning themselves like camphor and sandalwood, like a lamp that destroys itself while spreading light all around. And it seemed such a romantic thing to do. Americans have a nice word for this : "losers." This is precisely the kind of anger that I feel when I see representations of Paro ( Devdas) and Lolita ( parineeta). Romanticising women treated shabbily by men. Women smothered by possessiveness - as if they are objects to be owned. At least you can justify these characters by saying they are from a period where the role of a woman was perceived differently.But Stri? Today? It is not enough to have laws against abuse and facilities for education to empower women. Women must rise above these stereotypes and empower themselves. And can we expect some help from media in putting an end to idealising doormats? Bring on the Chak de s and Dor s please. Stri s are passé and we can manage quite well without them in the sisterhood.
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47 Responses
  1. Unmana Says:

    Quite agree with you. Stop deifying such women. If anything, we need to feel pity, definitely not admiration.


  2. DotMom Says:

    never heard of the Nalayani story before. Quite sickening. I think these films are the same variety as the ones that extol poverty. It's supposed to be "art"


  3. GuNs Says:

    I'd say we stop trying to walk up to people and teach them how to live their lives. People are intelligent enough. A crime is a crime and should be punished but personal choices that a woman makes are her own and no bleeding "womens rights organisations" can force her into revolting against her imperfect husband and such. IF the social structure of a society is to remain stable, people need to be empowered to take their own decisions and not believe blindly in policies made by others.

    I would take movies as movies and I hate it when people take them for more than that. In KANK, Rani slaps Shahrukh and women in the cinema hall stand up and clap. I felt like clapping some of those women in their heads myself for being stupid. Its a FILM, goddamit...it will not liberate you from your sad lives...only you can do it yourself. I am sure a lot of the women who clapped didn't even HAVE abusive husbands. It was just cool to see a man slapped on screen. How stupid is that???

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs


  4. rads Says:

    haha, you are mad aren't you? :--p


  5. maami Says:

    Just as 'silly' women find a magic moment to applaud a heroine slap her hero on the big screen, many enlightened men find it appeasing to find women forgiving their worst follies on 70mm.


  6. Besides the "Pathivratha" stereotype drilled into the heads of the Indian women, this insane loyalty may have something to do with the Stockholm Syndrome?


  7. Usha,
    Loved your thoughts on this.. Well, such woman indirectly spoils those men isn't it?
    I pity them, I hope they will realise it soon. As you said it right, its not just those poor ladies but the message goes to paaru and parineeTas also!

    -Veena

    ps - I regularly read your blog post, but leave comments once in a while :-)


  8. Chitra Says:

    Interesting post, Usha! and very interesting comments too.

    *smiles* at Maami's comment. :)


  9. Gauri Says:

    I do totally agree with your views Usha. Yes, the need of the hour is for women to stand up for themselves and their rights.

    That said, I guess filmmakers do go through this rather "ghisa pita" routine - maybe because it sets the cash registers tinkling - not to mention the awards that the film might collect since such films are considered 'art films'. On the one hand you have films like these being given more appreciation and attention than it deserves and on the other hand you have films like Salaam bombay being chastised because it gets uncomfortably close to truth. And truth hurts.

    About women being abused physically and mentally - even today - there are a great many who keep things under wraps - and I remember reading somewhere that this in itself turns into a pathological habit and a vicious circle. It almost gets accepted as a way of life. Sad, is it not ?


  10. Anonymous Says:

    Its not so simple to analyze why in some marriages women and men are willing to take abuse and continue in the relationship....you may want to read a book titled Passionate marriage by Schnarch which gives a psychological perspective.

    Chitra


  11. Swati Says:

    Can a man love a woman so unconditionally ???

    BTW I agree with all you said ...this is just another thoughht


  12. Sukesh Kumar Says:

    Hated your ideas!! really!!

    I am not saying woman shouldn't stand up. but movie/story is movie/story. Why don't you have a space for a different perspective??
    Take example of Ram-Sita
    Ram sacrificed as much as Sita did.
    My point is not Sita's sacrifice was unjustifiable or Ram was justified but point is that there are stories of 'men' also with sacrifices and 'weakness'(as you say).
    Was Gandhi in not adopting violence was weak?? Was his policy of enduring pain was foolish??


  13. ABSOLUTELY!!!


  14. Inder Says:

    i would take it as just another movie...
    there are all types of movies. movies are made for different reasons:
    - entertainment for viewers
    - give a message to the viewers
    - for the movie maker's own satisfaction

    there are so many types of entertainment. people watch humour, suspense, romance, thrillers. they watch the scary ones, horror, psychotic, etc. some like watching sufferings - tragedies. they feel sorry for those who suffer and hate those who cause suffering. is there any message in these stories? i don't know. to me, it is just another avoidable story.

    i think we all have the right to do anything to ourselves. we have the right to improve ourself. we can also make ourselves pathetic. we can take all the sufferings in the world on ourselves. we do it all the time. we put all sorts of sufferings on ourselves in the name of god. we walk miles barefoot, we walk on fire, we whip ourselves, we starve, we crucify ourselves. we take all sorts of suffering in the name of belief. it is all belief. people believe in heaven, which none has seen. people belive in god, whom none has seen. belief... may be the 'stri' has such belief in her husband... may be there are husbands who have belief in their stris. i don't know...
    anything/everything is right if i beieve that it is right.
    also everything is wrong.
    anything/everything is wrong if i beieve that it is wrong.
    i think that is life.
    and, life sucks.


  15. Shefaly Says:

    Usha:

    I understand your anger and outrage at the film but to suggest that "Stris are passé and we can manage quite well without them in the sisterhood" sort of misses the point of sisterhood, doesn't it?

    We can all get along with people who agree with us, think like us and behave like us; it is those, that baffle us the most, that offer us the most personal growth and learning. No?

    And the reason why I think Stris are not passé is because around us, they abound. Do you think depicting them is a sin of some sort, when real life is full of them? I speak of well-educated, professional women, earning more than their keep, often more than their awful husbands. Not just desi women but also white and black. They stay. No, I do not get their logic either but on two counts, I would still keep them in the "sisterhood":

    * There is something to be said for unconditional love in an increasingly cynical, what-is-in-it-for-me world.

    * Further, if the woman does not want to be redeemed, who are we to pontificate? The best we can do is continue to be friends to such women, so that when the proverbial really hits the fan they have someone to help them.


  16. Asha Says:

    You said it! These type of stories are plain insult to womanhood. I seriously doubt whether the story about 'the strength of women' is propagated by men for the mere sake of taking advantage of it. We are being told so much about what all a woman can do (including taking abuse without blinking even for a second), that we almost do it as if to prove something.


  17. Aryan Says:

    Haa..I am here for the first time..I totall agree to your point..What kind of treatment women is given!!!
    Aryan's Mom


  18. Usha Says:

    Unmana: Someone once told me that it is this capacity to love and forgive that made Indians treat their women as Devis. I told him that we need more assertive kAlis and less docile devis.

    Dotmom: Yes a portrayal of reality as it is.

    guns:People are NOT intelligent enough - that is precisely the point. There has been too mcuh of dumbing and numbing of senses in the name of what a woman is supposed to be. Many women today do not know what rights they have against abuse - not only rights activists but every educated Indian has a duty to educate those who are less privileged and ignorant of their rights.
    I agree about the limited impact of mainstream cinema in bringing about major changes in societal thinking. But sometimes by showcasing a regressive custom or behaviour attractively or romantically, they can blunt our consciousness. Examples - revival of elaborate customs in marriages post HAHK and romanticisation of karwa chauth.
    When a man hits you out of posessiveness you don't delude yourself to be Paro, you go and lodge a complaint or run as fast as your heels will carry you. A lot of youngsters still fail to see the difference between film and real life and their idea of romance/ love/ life is straight out of bollywood.
    If kank wasn't such a bad film, I might have stood up and clapped too when Preeti slaps Shahrukh - simply because Shahrukh was so slappable in that character.And it was not seeing ANY man slapped - it was seeing a stupid, nagging, jealous, cheating loser being slapped. What a wonderful moment!
    And you don't have to have be in an abusive relationship yourself to feel angry for another couple in an abusive relationship. I don't want it happening to my sister, my friend, my neighbor, my maid or anyone.

    Rads:I sure am. I thought I might have missed out something in translation and somewhere there may be a redeeming point to the film.Did you see it?

    maami:Oh yes. The trouble is the slaps are so few and the appeasement/ justification/ glorification has been the norm. A Pudumai penn taking off her Thali and throwing it on her husband's face somehow becomes an unnamed conspiracy to subvert the politico -moral prerogatives.

    The RF: Whatever syndrome it is, it is a clear case for the couch.

    Veena Shivanna: In the beginning of this month sometime there was a vrat to celebrate savitri ( another sati) bringing her husband back from the throes of death. She is supposed to have done it by praying to yama and asking for a clever boon which could be granted only by extending the life span of her husband Satyavan. A neighbour was desperate for a particular ingredient to make the prasad for the day (halsandi). I told her it did not matter if she did not have it as savitri is supposed to have just used whatever she had in her possession to quickly concoct the dish. She asked me if I did not do the pooja and I told her I see today's Savitris in roles such as zeenat in the film Dor and Roja in the film Roja who will take on the system for the sake of justice for their husbands.They do not sit and pray to Gods but they act. And the lady quickly went away to buy halsandi!

    Chitra: :) Me, smiling at maami's comments too. Please check her blog too. She is awesome.

    Gauri:Yes some stereotypes are sure cashcows - the sacrificing woman, the obedient son and the saber rattler. I have heard that many times the film endings are debated at length - anything that questions traditions, the hero dying etc are very risky and can contribute to faliure at the box office. So they play safe and pander to society's comfort zone.

    Anon Chitra: As I said I understand that this is a condition they are not in control of. Let us face it and treat it as it is and not glorify it. Will check out the book if I can find it in the library.
    Is this Chitra sharan ? if yes, lend me the book! :)

    Swati:There are some men who take care of their sick or disabled wife with devotion. Who carry the memory of their dead wives and don't remarry etc. But the percentage of men tolerating physical abuse, alcoholism, gambling etc must be miniscule at least in this country I think.

    Sukesh: HATE - hm rather strong. But I respect your viewpoint.
    I'd love a different perspective - where is it? They are reinforcing age old abusive habits, that's why I am whining.
    Please give me 5 instances of sacrifice by Rama for the sake of his wife. Would you have rather had him forget about her and get on with his life once she was abducted?
    He should have married someone else after he sent Sita off to the forest?
    Gandhi may have followed non violence and endured pain but in his advice to women he never asked her to submit to violence and be weak. He exhorted her to be strong and stand up for herself.

    JLT: :)

    Inder:Stri - hm I am not sure she had any belief in him reforming also. She just felt good loving him, found her raison d'etre in mothering him never mind his abuses and devious ways. It would not have provoked me if it was a fictitious character but seeing paler versions of her around me in real life and their inability/ disinclination to rise above it made me want to vent my frustration somewhere. Life sucks but we can do something to make it better.

    Shefaly: Ok I think that was a statement in anger. i didn't mean to exclude them. I meant to say that it is time we got them to rise above their misery.
    When I said stris are passe I meant that as a concept the image of the all-forgiving, submissive, patient symbol of womanhood. In reality we do see them around us - remnants of centuries old mould.
    If a woman knows that another side exists and does not want to be redeemed, then it is her choice. But if she doesn't even know it is possible (like Meera of DOR)it is important that we do something to make her see the possibilities?

    Asha: Haven't you heard people say that a woman is genetically wired to be a good mother to a child and so it is her job to take care of the child? Although there is no evidence that men cannot take care of a child as well as a woman. except the breast feeding part of course.

    Aryan's mom: welcome. ya, and what kind indeed!


  19. Unmana Says:

    I noticed you cite Dor more than once. Did you love the movie too? I think Zeenat must be my favourite movie character of all - I have never seen a portrayal of such a strong, sensitive woman.


  20. Usha Says:

    Unmana: yes loved the film and the character of Zeenat.
    Wrote a post about it too here:
    http://agelessbonding.blogspot.com/2006/11/dor.html


  21. GuNs Says:

    I think that is plain sexual discrimination. If a woman slaps a cheating husband, women stand up and clap. If a man does the same to a cheating woman, do you think men would stand up and clap in a movie theatre? If they do, do you think their wives would be amused?

    C'mmon, I would have liked Shahrukh to slap her right back and go file for divorce. Physical abuse works both ways. Just as it is abhorring to see husbands beating up their wives, it is similarly shameful an act for a woman to slap her husband. If people have arguments, they deserve punishment but physical abuse is NOT an option. BOTH WAYS. I hope that is understood and clear to all women AND men out there. Lets have arguments but let us control ourselves before we break into violence.

    I don't like to see women get slapped around in films or in real life nor do I like to get men slapped around by women. I will stand up for physical abuse against a woman I know or am related to and I will similarly stand up for a man in the same situation.

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs


  22. Usha Says:

    GUNS: I am sorry I missed the point about physical abuse - I thought of it as a slap, an insult. Ok point taken. Physical abuse cannot be condoned whoever indulges in it.


  23. Hip Grandma Says:

    I wrote a looong comment but where did it go?To cut it short - there is another name for such women-'enablers' and they cannot be wished away.our film makers love them and would never wish them away.but the real cause for concern would be if they were a majority.Remember we had our Jhansi ki Rani at a time when women gladly accepted a subdued role.


  24. Anonymous Says:

    Sounds like the movie got you riled up quite well. :)
    I think the message that the popular barely-dressed heroines are sending is much more harmful to our young girls and women than this Stri who seems like a very one-dimensional portayal of a woman anyway. I wonder how many young girls would actually want to be like this long-suffering woman. I'm willing to bet a lot more want to be like Kareena Kapoor. And thats a scary thought. Seriously.
    ~Vivin


  25. Filarial Says:

    You hit the head of the nail when you say- you see it all round... It is not deifying any trait or showcasing how a woman shld be-- the movie is winning international acclaim for its honesty and bringing out the cultutral india that is brushed under the carpet... a movie does not need to always be a moral lesson or show you how society should behave-- I dont see the comparison between this and lolita or paro-- who are characters of romaniticised stories..


  26. Shefaly Says:

    Usha:

    I have not seen Dor or any of the other films you reference but this I found interesting. You said: "But if she doesn't even know it is possible (like Meera of DOR)it is important that we do something to make her see the possibilities?"

    I was reminded of how in my childhood and teenage, my aunts (relatives) saw me as 'trouble' and 'bad influence' on their daughters, my female cousins. Now I am noticing it is the husbands' turn to see me as a 'bad influence' on their sati-savitri wives! :-)


  27. dipali Says:

    The patriarchy obviously had a major interest in showing women as subservient and docile. The story of
    Nalayani is particularly revolting.
    I agree with you that people are not often very intelligent or informed in making their choices, particularly with regard to alcoholism. It is a sad fact that it is a disease and needs to be treated as such. So many of our underprivileged, uneducated women would be unaware of this, and they give in to the emotional blackmail and extortion that alcoholics often indulge in. ( Of course this happens across socio-economic strata, but an educated woman is more likely to have the intellectual and financial resources needed to treat this disease). I loved "Dor". Even in "Iqbal" the mother and sister were such powerful, enabling characters.
    We definitely need to educate women so that they do not get confused between acceptance of a person and acceptance of abuse or injustice of any kind.


  28. Anonymous Says:

    It is Chitra Sharan - will definitely lend you the book


  29. S! Says:

    I agree with you.

    What I find really interesting is the level of representation that you attribute to this movie? And that is not about you... it is general thought. What movies we think are claiming to be representative of us in ways that we are not. There are many insane movies out there, & I'm not sure how we judge these things internally & are somehow infuriated by it, & then brush of other equally rubbish stuff as just plain banana oil.

    Forest Gump is the glorification of the stupid, & in the experiences of most of us perhaps, is as far removed from reality & is as skewed a representation of human life as it can get. Yet, we love it, without identifying with it. By the same token, if this story is not about the women as they are today, we - & we includes me - still seem unable to disentangle our own self as separate from the protagonist.

    I wonder why that is.

    You're getting better, lootenant, :)


  30. rambodoc Says:

    Shefaly:
    Rational Love (meaning something that is rooted in values and, hence, is sustainable over a long term between two rational partners) is never unconditional.
    It is earned through values and lost by loss of the same. I appreciate Usha's thoughts on this for this reason.


  31. Usha Says:

    Hip grandma: Why are these stereotypes called "enablers"? What do they enable - perpetuation of age old values and practices?
    Aren't the stri types still in the majority?

    Vivin: I'd like to believe that a lot more girls would want to be like kareena kapoor ( but why? is she a symbol of liberated woman? enlighten me on this.) But even in the city there are lot more who want to please their men with their lolita acts and paro behaviour.
    And in rural India the traditional Bhartiya Nari mould is still very much alive.
    A friend from haryana tells me how patriarchal their society still is - even among the rich and college educated.

    Dipali: "We definitely need to educate women so that they do not get confused between acceptance of a person and acceptance of abuse or injustice of any kind."
    How beautifully you said it what i was struggling to say in all of the post. Exactly what I meant.
    Thank you!

    anon/ chitra sharan: will come over sometime to pick it up. :)

    Souvik: I may not care about my dark skin but why does it irritate me to see an ad which promotes a fairness cream?
    it is the same kind of anger about this movie too - we have enough stupidity as it is inherited from centuries of misinterpretation and patriarchal propaganda without needing more glorification of tolerance of abuse. We have laws against abuse of women - any film that glorifies an abused woman should be banned!

    Doc: Yes, you said it!


  32. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Usha,
    When I was referring to Kareena Kapoor, I merely used her as an example of the celebrity culture that is prevalent these days, not that she or her like are worthy role models in any way.
    I was reading an article that teachers here in the UK think celebrities like Vicoria Beckham and Paris Hilton are bad role models in the sense that kids are now aspiring to just be rich and famous as opposed to wanting a college degree, play sports, play music, etc. I'm not sure if its a problem in India yet, but 'celebrities' in any country seem to send conflicting messages (like you've pointed out before in your article on clothing and cleavage) about what is empowering and what is not. When the kids see them dress a certain way, act a certain way and then realize how much they are paid to do so, its hard to convince the kids(at least some of them) to then go and pick up a book instead. And in that sense alone I don't like what the likes of Kareena Kapoor, et al seem to project.
    God, I just realized I sound like the 'moral police'. :)
    Films like Stri on the other hand might be irritating to watch but depending on the way the subject is handled, might be a useful tool in starting a conversation in the segments of society where they are much needed. Maybe seeing their lives projected on screen, will help women realize that they are not helping themselves in any way.
    Again, its a huge- 'IF it is handled correctly', otherwise I agree, that it just ends up strengthening the stereotype. Also, I think, its a reminder to us that we need too do more and its not all 'India Shining'. So there might be some hidden good in this movie after all.
    Hope this made more sense. Sorry about the long comment:)
    ~Vivin


  33. Usha Says:

    Vivin: Ah ok, got the idea behind reference to KK - was secretly hoping she might have done something worthy of emulation. SIGH...
    yes I agree films can be useful tools for stimulating thoughts on ideas that have been taken for granted which no one bothers to question. I think what got my goat was my perception that the protagonist was portrayed sympathetically almost like a hero. It might have been my perception entirely. That is why I was hoping that someone who understands telugu and is not dependent on the subtitles would throw some light on the film.
    Long comments - I love them. Please feel free.
    Thanks for taking the time.


  34. Usha Says:

    Ah, I seem to have missed you these two comments - sorry!

    filarial:Thank you.

    Shefaly: We need more such bad influences methinks. :)


  35. Anonymous Says:

    Screening it on the occasion of Women's day is plain stupid.

    However as to the question, ‘why was the women shown in a favourable light?’ Why not? It is a work of fiction. It should probably be given only as much importance. But if we were to attribute and analyze reasons to it, why should not be due to any of the reasons given below

    - The director and script writer probably wanted to cash in on the warped –pathivratha - concept which is actually not so outdated.
    -By exaggerating and making a heroine of a complete loser the director wanted to evoke precisely the reaction that he got from you. He probably wanted to shock everyone into action. More on the lines of ‘don’t just sit there and take it else you would be celebrated for your worst quality’
    -He just portrayed what he came across in life with a little bit of dramatization. Meaning there was no intention to jolt us from our stupor.

    Oh well… by this logic you could be right as well. Just wanted to highlight that there could have been many or any reason for following a script.

    Amethyst


  36. Totally agree with you .I think the same is true in either case.

    To be frank one should draw a line after sometime and say this is it ,else it gets too cumbersome like cancer,sometimes it pains ,but one may need to cut the part of the body else gangrene would set in.I may sound a little harsh,but it is the reality


  37. 2 B's mommy Says:

    Agree with 'guns'.


  38. diya Says:

    Usha,putting these sufferers on the pedestal has serverd the ends of a patriarchy for ages in India. This leads to the oppression of Indian women.For Indian women marriage is never optional it is like a duty and it is the duty of the father to marry her off. Marriage is a relationship of subservience for the woman. Shew is trapped 'jis ghar main doli jayeji usse arthi mein nikalna' so your fate is sealed. There are several Hindi films on these lines was watching a few scenes of one of them the other day where Rishi Kapoor is married to two women. The second wife is not aware of the first and the first one instead to chucking him accepts the second wife herself living like a servant in their home. The most remarkable thing is that when the second wife finds out about the first she commits suicide, divorce is not an option. And in this case it was an invalid marrige in any case. But still if you consider yourself to be married then ony death can part you is the signal given here!
    In real life women are force to continue in an abusive relationship without any kind of support, due to these social norms. For every suicide of young women or dowry death, there are thousands who suffer quietly their parents almost force them to undergo oppression for the sake of family honour etc When the poor girl dies then they go to the media and the court alleging continuous harrasment. The system needs to be shaken up quite a bit. Women have to get support from their family...it is a mess out there and these films only worsen the situation. Women must be equipped to understand that they need stand so much and no more, they should be provided a support base to turn to otherwise we will see many more suicides and murders of young women i n this country.


  39. rajk Says:

    I wrote a comment sometime back here but somehow it disappeared. Anyway, the dialogue via comments was great to follow
    I was so surprised that such a movie was screened on Women's Day! Maybe they just went by the name "Stri".
    I also wish to thank "Rambodoc" for his take on unconditional love. I've believed in "Rational Love" as he calls it, but never could quite define it so succinctly! Thanks Rambodoc, agree with you whole-heartedly!


  40. Mahadevan Says:

    We have the bra-burning type at one end and the doormat type, described by you now, at the other.

    There is a story about Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Once a serpent complained to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa that small boys continuously threw stones at it. Ramakrishna asked the serpent, 'why you didn't you atleast hissat them?'.

    The protaganist of "Stri" should have atlesast hissed at her husband. Mahatma Gandhi advised women to use their nails, when their modesty is outraged.

    At the same time, there are women, who constantly tread on the toes of their husbands and they endure it out of false sense of tolerance or chivalry.


  41. Usha Says:

    Amethyst: I agree that it is a film maker's liberty to take up any story that appeals to him and present it in a manner faithful to the original script. He doesn't need to be an agent of social change or have any altruistic motives. I guess this post was just a spontaneous outburst in response to it. I look around and see how centuries of such indoctrination still makes it tough for women to opt for divorce or boldly walk out of an abusive relationship ("What will others say?" "This will kill my parents" "This is my karma" etc). And then I watch a story that seems to glorify a woman who hovers on the fringe of suicidal delusion in her blind love for her man.
    And I get angry and write a post hoping that some people who suffer in an abusive relationship will begin to question their lives.
    That is all.

    Stalag: Many of these women so steeped in these stereotype image of a woman's role do not believe they have a right to happiness. They blame it on their fate and carry on which is sad. They need to realise that it is possible to make a clean break and live for themselves.

    2B's mommy: about men being subjected to physical abuse? :) True any way you slice it abuse is bad. I guess when men are in an abusive relationship they find it easier to opt out as the restrictions are more from within for them. Society does not stigmatise divorced men as much as divorced women right?

    Diya:Loved this comment. yes so sad and yet so true.

    Rajk: I WANT that LONG comment back....write it again. whoaaaaaaahhhh.
    Yes Doc stated it in one line. So true isn't it?

    Mahadevan: As chitra Sharan said above there may be several psychological explanations for why people endure an abusive relationship - I am beginning to suspect that one of them is that they actually enjoy it! Gives them a sense of purpose?


  42. here, here,...i watched a movie once, can't remember the name, with a similar female character, i wanted to get up and deck the woman, "loser" is so apt, later though, i had to wander, what on earth would possess a woman to stay in an abusive relationship, worse yet to protect the asshole, it's not just cultural issues,i think what these women need is a support structure, and to truly believe, they can get the hell out, and put the slime ball behind bars. how do we change a mindset.


  43. mystic_life Says:

    It's not only in India that they have these problems. When I was growing up my God-father lost all of his nine businesses to alcoholism and my God-mother still stayed with him. He is now in New York, spending her money and screwing other women.
    When I found out that my husband was cheating on me and I told my parents I was going to leave him, they told me they would disown me, and then they didn't talk to me for two years. I was raised with the man being the head of the house and the woman being submissive. Not all of America has such beliefs that are advertised. You just see the worst and the most modern side of it in the news.
    But yes, I understand your point about them idolizing the submissive woman-- yet at the same time, they also are pumping out the trashy rap videos as well. It's a double edged sword.


  44. Usha Says:

    Rouhana: Really it seems like a long road ahead and a lot of education and support effort.

    Mystic life: This is a shocking insight. I would have believed that cheating and infidelity are strong reasons for separation in any society. And I had assumed the speedy access to legal remedy in your country should facilitate women to stand up against abuse. At least there would be furore in your country if they try to idealise this kind of behaviour - openly at least they like to be correct I guess. :)


  45. Mama - Mia Says:

    it is indeed horrid to glorify salf sacrificing woman who gets no happiness in return!! i mean selflessness and selfishness can and should co-exist to lead a sane life! nahi?!

    what i find ridiculous is women walk into such relationships knowingly! i mean you have a boyfriend who is horribly possesive! tell you what ti wear, where to go, whom to talk to and more imp NOT to! and all this in the name of love! the girl says he does all this because he loves me andw ants to protect!

    i feel like shaking em up and saying its not love! he is just an insecure asshole! nothing more!

    but love is indeed blind! and then you think why did their marriage fail, really??!!

    abuse of any kind is unaccepatble! whoever in the relationship is dishing it out!

    great post as always! (well after reading and commenting on half a dozen approx can i say always??!!)

    cheers!


  46. Nancy Says:

    quite agree with u.
    but look at it from that womans point of view. after taking abuse for sometime she begins to condition herself that there must be a more cruel world out there & "better a known devil than an unknown one".

    hi, am Nancy. was blog-hopping when i came across urs. cdnt resist presenting my viewpoint. p.s- we share the same template;-).


  47. Usha Says:

    mam-mia: i have seen such girls too - ones who feel thrilled about the possessiveness and jealousy shown by their men.
    They fail to understand that this could be the first sign of trouble. I know a relationship that started like this and ended up in a divorce - the jealous husband would burn her arms with cigarette if she wore sleeveless blouses!
    Thank you for the encouraging words. :)

    nancy: I do hope and pray that women do not get immune to this kind of cruelty.
    Will check out yours soon nancy.