Women’s Empowerment? | The Daily Star
09:59 PM, March 31, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:30 AM, April 03, 2015

Deepika Padukone: Male bashing or women's empowerment?

BBC Online

A response to Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone's video on women's empowerment has fuelled debate on gender equality in India.

Padukone, in association with Vogue magazine, released a video on Saturday to raise awareness about women's rights in India.

"My body, my mind, my choice, to wear the clothes I like even as my spirit roams naked, my choice," these are the opening lines of the the video which features 99 women.

The video has received more than three million views.

"In my family, my father is the only male in the house, but all of us have a voice. I've always been allowed to be who I want to be. When you're not caged, when you don't succumb to expectation, that's when you're empowered," says Padukone.

But some say the video concentrates on "male bashing".

Ankur Poddar, who has made a rival video titled "my choice male version", says he respects all women, but feels that such initiatives need to look at the bigger picture.

"Women need to be respected but there has to be a pause to an anti-men campaign. Some are taking advantage of this campaign. Women and men are equal," he says.

Poddar adds that "there must be an awareness over violence against women but it should not be against men".

His video has received just over 200,000 views since it was uploaded on YouTube on Monday.

"It's my choice to go the gym or have a beer belly...Thinking all men are same, is like calling white the new black," says Poddar's video.

Opinions divided

Analysts say the "rival videos" only reflect deeper divisions in the society about what exactly freedom for women means in the country.

Padukone's video has received support and criticism in equal measure in the media and on social media platforms.

"So then, what does make a truly empowered woman? Having the right to have sex whenever and with whoever? And wear whatever and return home whenever?" asks Piyasree Dasgupta in her article on the CNN-IBN website.

She adds that "the most significant choices in life have had to do with education, financial independence and the power to support our families instead of sex, clothes and staying out".

An article on the Quartz website says "Vogue and Padukone have a lot in common: They're both from an industry that is based on fetishising, objectifying and reinforcing sexist standards of beauty on women".

"So when these two forces combined talk about women empowerment, one is left a bit confused, because, let's be honest, the fashion and Bollywood do not empower anyone—women most of all," it says.

Several Twitter users have also criticised the video for being "superficial and immature".

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