Tradition vs Progress - The #Kanyamaan Controversy
Over the years, objectification of women has been the center of marketing strategies for numerous brands, TV shows and movies. From 'item' songs in movies to women going crazy for men in the 'Axe' advertisements; it is not wrong to say that the Indian industry has profited heavily from sexist approaches.
We have indeed come a long way from viewing women as the inferior gender, but have we reached the top of the success ladder? Not reaaaaaally.
In the recent Manyavar-Mohey advertisement, Alia Bhatt talks about the practice of Kanyadaan and how it should be viewed as Kanyamaan instead. In short, how women shouldn't be viewed as a commodity that is being given away or donated to another family or a man. It was faced with a backlash of how the Bollywood industry continues the anti-Hindu propaganda.
However, I would say the question isn't whether the practice is right or wrong, religion is a sensitive topic for many and shouldn't be thrown around lightly, instead, the question should be was the motive behind the advertisement right?
My answer to that would be, yes. Only very recently has the marketing industry given the same pedestal to women as they gave to men. The recent Cadbury Dairy Milk advertisement showcases it beautifully. This advertisement is a remake of their 1900-something advertisement, but what's new you might ask? (Hint: It's not the chocolate).
They changed the gender roles. Instead of an all-men cricket team being in the field, it's an all-women cricket team. Instead of a woman going to the man, it's a man going to the woman. Apart from the modern and progressive view, what I loved about the advertisement was how it incorporated the change and displayed it. Feminism is not about standing on a stage and yelling at the top of your lungs "I CONSIDER MEN AND WOMEN EQUAL", it's about accepting it in your daily life and making it visible through your actions. Cadbury Dairy Milk truly proved that you can talk about issues and get people to discuss them without making a bold statement.
Coming back to the #Kanyadaan to #Kanyamaan controversy. Personally, ignoring the religious aspect, I see it as a step in the right direction. We have to understand that the changes in the media industry are fairly new and it will take them some time to fully grasp the concept of feminism without offending any religions, cultures or minorities. I believe the motive of the advertisement wasn't to attack a specific religious practice, it was more about talking about the status of women in society.
Although I agree with the fact that the way they portrayed it wasn't right. Instead of talking and speaking about terms or definitions, they could have just shown the scene where both the families get their palms together to do a ritual. Actions speak louder than words and in this specific case, it would have made a bigger impact. This makes me wonder if they were trying to go for the bold statement thing because if they were, they failed miserably (considering the backlash).
Personal view: When it comes to traditional wedding concepts, I have witnessed women being considered inferior to men. Everything from how the bride's family has to contribute more than the groom's family in the wedding to assuming that a woman will take up the last name of her husband is patriarchal. Kanyadaan, though defined differently in traditional scriptures, is often defined as the giving away of the bride/daughter. While the Mohey advertisement challenged and questioned the concept of Kanyadaan, my question is why is only the bride being given away to the groom and not vice versa as well? Aren't both of them going into new families? If Putradaan is a thing then why isn't a part of the wedding as well?