Hub Magazine | oPod Top 50 | Latest Discussion

Intro | Using the site | Posting in Tamil | Login Problems? | Contact Us | Hub Policies

The Hub : Tamil Films Archived Hello Guest, Login to post.

tamil films as enforcers of female sexual morality

Topic started by sangh on Wed Jan 4 5:36:00 2006.

One of the main arguments being advanced against pre-marital sex is that it would destroy families. For those uninitiated with the bizarre logic of Tamil filmdom, this line of reasoning requires some explaining. For, extra-marital affairs might induce jealousy and friction between possessive couples and cause breakdown of families, but how does pre-marital sex break up families? It does so by cutting the umbilical cord connecting every woman with her FUTURE husband. According to Tamil film logic, woman's beauty is meant for her husband's (and only his) enjoyment, so even when she is not married, she belongs to her future husband. Such sentiments (and variants thereof) abound in Tamil films. For instance, in a film (Manal Kayiru ) by a progressive director Visu, one of the criteria listed by the hero for his prospective bride is that she appear beautiful to him but ugly to everyone else (in other words, someone un-polluted by the male gaze!) In another film (Vandicholai Chinraasu), lyricist Vairamuthu -- who had in his earlier days written a moving eulogy to Karl Marx and is arguably the poet laureate of Tamil filmdom -- admonishes (through the film's hero) the immodest heroine for her dress and comport and "for exhibiting publicly (her) beauty whose enjoyment should have been the sole privilege of her husband." [The Anna University Vice-Chancellor seems to hold a similar view, for he recently imposed a dress code banning sleeveless tops, jeans, T-shirts and "tight-fitting clothes".]

Another film (Azhagarsamy) has Satyaraj, who has publicly expressed his desire to play the part of Periyar if ever a film is made on him, advising the heroine to give up revealing attire so as not to arouse the lust of the sex-starved villagers. In his notorious anti-reservations film, Gentleman , director Shankar blames an attempted rape of a woman on her glam doll persona! Wisen up and dress conservatively, the hero orders her, after bashing up the ruffians. Superstar Rajnikant's films are among the most sexist and have typically involved the taming of an arrogant woman (an allusion to Jayalalitha). In a recent film, when he sees his coterie ogling at the heroine and her sisters working out, he promptly requests the women to go indoors! If Rajnikant is the John Wayne of Tamil films, young lieutenant Vijay has got to be native version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. His films too are notoriously sexist; in his latest film (Sivakasi ), he launches into a lengthy monologue abusing the heroine (in full view of the public) for her short skirts and not-opaque-enough tops! Worse still, the heroine's father realizes the truth in Vijay's accusations and the heroine immediately switches to a saree! In yet another recently released film (Majaa), after the hero forcibly ties the mangalsutra around a shocked heroine's neck, she unreservedly accepts him as her husband. Turns out that the hero doesn't really love the heroine, but finally yields to the latter's devotion. Interestingly, the heroine in this film is submissive to both her husband and her father, so much so that even when she disagrees with her father's ways, she has to wait for the husband to take him down (at which point she silently rejoices!).

One notable feature of most Tamil films is that heroines are portrayed as sexually repressed (thereby posing no challenge to males) and sexually available. This sexualized image becomes their liability, and is exploited to run them down. The chain of logic runs like this: Sex is sin, the woman peer is sexual, her sexuality falls under the purview and exclusive control of her husband, so the husband (the film's hero) can treat her with contempt [Often times, violence in films is also sexualized; the hero's lover or sister get molested to provide some titillation to the male audience (or, is the director playing out his fantasies?) and also to afford an opportunity for the hero to flex his muscles. The heroine becoming polluted (by rape) would leave the hero without a suitable match, so she is more often molested than raped. And when the hero's sister is raped, she either commits suicide (unable to bear her loss of honor) or is murdered so that the hero doesn't have to confront her impure existence. For after all, if Maryada Purushottam Lord Shri Ram couldn't bear the indignity of aspersions being cast on his wife, how can a mere mortal (our film hero) be expected to suffer daily indignities on account of his polluted sister (who now is also unfit for marriage)?].

This is in stark contrast with the respectful treatment of desexualized women (the hero's mother etc.). Respect for desexualized women and contempt for sexual women, while due to sexual prudery, has resulted in a deification/subjugation binary treatment of women [The deification/subjugation binary has a long history, and one can find several instances in the films of MGR, Sivaji Ganesan and Rajnikant. This was not just a monopoly of the prudes -- actor/director Bagyaraj, credited with breaking the taboo on sex in Tamil films, used it in several of his films to degrade the sexualized heroine.]. Since all women peers (except those in a sisterly relationship) are sexualized, this also sustains the husband/wife hierarchy since the only woman worthy of respect is the mother (who belongs to the previous generation). How different is this from the Sangh Parivar's views on women?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button | RSS Feed | Email me when a reply is posted


AddThis Social Bookmark Button | RSS Feed | Email me when a reply is posted

Want to post a response?

(Hello Guest, you need to Login to post a response. Are you a New User? Register first.)
Subject: (Optional)

Your response:           Post Emoticons | Tamil TypePad
For Quoting text: use [quote]....[/quote]

Firefox Users: use this extension to post tags without quitting Lite View!

Jump to Full View for more...!

Back to Tamil Films Archived forum