In Focus 22nd February, 2017

O womaniya, aa aa womaniya.

Let me ask you a question. Where does your idea of happiness come from? Where does the image of your perfect life begin? Where do you get your idea of romance, sex and courtship?

Pop culture plays an enduring and powerful role in our lives; always has, and the trend is going up. The internet has, to a large extent democratised what qualifies as pop culture. The plans that were hatched in basement meeting rooms are now being hatched in college canteens and bedrooms.

We talk about pop culture, because how can you sum up the discourse around women’s rights without talking about the awesome impact of pop culture? The famous pop culture that popularised stalking, and voyeurism, the pop culture that promoted the trope of the woman who always says ‘yes’ to the abusive boyfriend despite his infractions.

Similarly, the pop culture that demonstrated the awesome power a woman who stepped off to go to a whole new continent alone, the pop culture that celebrates women’s friendships and the pop culture that portrays women’s consent to be key have had so much to contribute to our movement.

Listed below are five songs we think are feminist:

1. Aaj main upar, aasma neeche:

In a modern context, when women are dehumanized to serve as a mere prop or an instrument of male gaze, a song that humanizes women is almost political. And, this song does exactly that. 

2. Bahon mein chale aao:

How many times have we seen a man chase a woman or try to woo her? Because taking the initiative in a relationship has been a traditionally masculine role. In this realm, a woman who takes the initiative, takes charge in a sexual exchange without appearing like an object of male gaze, is a feminist symbol.

3. O Gujariya: 

Who, in the wide confines of our planet, has heard this song and not loved it instantly. ‘O Gujariya’ comes from a movie that defied the ever so popular Bollywood trope of a damsel in distress. Which of us don’t want Gujariya to show us how to party? It picturized powerful women who were interesting and met their problems with the confused, shattered courage that is characteristic of humanity.

3. Badal pe paon hai:

Women’s history is not just about sad stories of oppression. It is also a celebration. A celebration of negotiated victories and clever subversions; aptly played against a backdrop of brutal suspense and hopeful anticipation puts this celebratory song at number 4 on our list.

5. Banno tera swagger:

Over the years, Bollywood’s depictions of womanhood as an object of desire has been very carnal; and it has also come from the perspective of a man. A woman is often stripped of her dreams, hopes, fears and ‘swagger’ and reduced to a visual prop. This song, in its acknowledgement of women’s spunk and ‘swagger’ contributing to their sexiness is mighty feminist.

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