Religion, culture and item songs

A few days ago I saw a very interesting post by Hamza Ali Abbasi regarding item songs in pakistani movies and since then I have been thinking of doing this post.

For those who don’t know what I am talking about, have a look

Now, I respect hamza Ali Abbasi a lot for certain things. And speaking his mind on social media and creating awareness over issues he thinks are important for the nation definitely tops the list. I’m also really glad that although he did Jawani Phir Nahi Aani due to his close friendship with Humayon Saeed, he opted out of the second installment as he does not like how commercial cinema is objectifying women.

So as i mentioned above, I’ve been thinking about all this quite a lot lately and I’m not sure what the correct answer is.

As soon as a new Bollywood item song comes out, it becomes all the rage. We see girls dancing on Shiela ki Jawani and Baby Doll Main Soney  Ki in front of their parents St weddings and their parents smiling at them with pride.

Then comes out an item song from a pakistani movie which is like 1000 times tamer than songs like Chikni Chameli and the whole platoon of disco mullahs, keyboard warriors and Internet muftis is suddenly worried about culture and religion. And their main concern becomes the dehumanising and objectification of women in these songs.

While I have failed to understand this hypocrisy, I have failed to understand many other things too which revolve around the dehumanising and objectification of women.

I personally feel that in patriarchal societies like ours, women are objectified in every day lives a lot. Don’t believe me? Then please Google the news where man raped a woman, he was punished by making another man rape his sister.

And this is definitely not the only case of this sort. Vani is a common practice in a lot of different regions in pakistan and no one even gives a second thought about it after reading such news as women are considered unworthy creatures (read objects) who are only there to satisfy needs of men (be it in the form of a sister, mother or wife). So what if a man murders someone as long as he has a virgin sister who he can offer as Vani.

Now, do these in any way fit in our religious values? No, a straight no. So do they fit in our cultural values? Perhaps yes.

Women are not only objectified in rural areas. It’s common practice in our urban setting as well. Oh, you don’t believe me? Then, perhaps you have never heard of cases where men throw acid on women’s faces because they rejected their proposal? I mean, how could they dare reject someone? They are mere objects with no emotions or feelings. If a guy has stalked them, has made attempts at molesting them, they should just somehow fall in love and get married.

I can’t find any Islamic reference to support this, so I am thinking this sort of objectification somehow stems out from our culture as well.

Finally, these worthless objects seem to be carrying the burden of whole family’s honour on their shoulders (or I should say in between their legs) as well. So a chaste woman is not supposed to have any sexual desires at all. She should only be able to satisfy her husband’s desires. She is after all just an object to be used as and when desired by its rightful owner.

Digging deep into our culture, we have also have mujras and bacha bazi in different parts of the country…practiced in the name of culture.

With this patriarchal mentality rampant in our society, we sit down to watch an item song and enjoy it on our own but get embarrassed if our family is sitting with us. Why? Because we can’t see a woman displaying her sensuality? Because we think we should cover and protect a woman’s sexuality? Or because we are really concerned about how women are being compared to  supari to be chewed?

I personally believe that item songs (or dance numbers or whatever you may want to call them) should be added in movies but the lyrics and the performance on the song should be tasteful and classy. Of course people go to the cinema to be entertained and not to be preached but this entertainment does not necessarily has to come by comparing women with cats. The women don’t have to been seen dancing surrounded by 100s of lewd men trying to grope them.

If you don’t know what a classy item song is, please watch this video and remind yourself of one of the best item song in history.

Also, more stories need to be written with women as strong characters rather than just eye candy. There will be no need for item songs then as a lot of women are agreeing to these item songs as it’s lucrative for them in terms of money. If there are enough good stories with strong female characters, chances are that women will be busy playing those roles rather than thrusting their chests in our faces.

*the second image has been taken from a Facebook page called ‘Comics by Saeeda’

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