Chhota Bheem, Doraemon, Ninja Hatauri, Krishna: No girls as protectors or even survivors

Nabanita Sengupta
Chhota Bheem, Doraemon, Ninja Hatauri, Krishna: No girls as protectors or even survivors
Chhota Bheem, Doraemon, Ninja Hatauri, Krishna: No girls as protectors or even survivors
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As I pondered over the content of my long delayed first blog post, we reached another Women’s Day and I thought why not use this day as a platform to launch my blog? Then I started thinking in cliched terms- why a women’s day and not a human day? I can make numerous arguments for this and you can give me numerous against, but still the fact remains a fact. Women are still the second sex as Simone De Beauvoir claimed in her much acclaimed book years ago. But why is this so?

A simple question from my six-year-old son triggered a chain of thoughts in my mind. During a fight, in a playing session, with one of his friends who happens to be a girl of his age, he came complaining to me, “Mama, why should she want to be the king? She has to be the princess and I will save her from the demons”. I was shocked! Was this the nineteenth century and was I in the world of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales? Girls can very well save themselves and become rulers too – I tried reasoning with my little one. But to my dismay, pat came the reply, "but I have never seen such a thing in TV!!"

True, I thought as I tried tracing in my mind all the episodes of Chhota Bheem, Doraemon, Ninja Hatauri, Krishna and Balaram, Roll No 21, Bal Hanuman, and several  others that I have watched with him. None of these portray girls with any capacity to be either a protector or even a survivor. They always need a ‘knight in shining armour’ to come and rescue them. No wonder, these kids, though growing up in the 21st century are still fed on the beliefs which are centuries old. Or are they? I mean are the beliefs really centuries old or are they very much a part of our everyday life? Worse for these kids, they find a big gap between the real world and the make-believe world of television which they believe to be true; because today’s world fortunately has a substantial number of women making socioeconomic contributions though the small screen or the celluloid world rarely represents them.

Even the commercials which feature children are full of super-achievers most of whom are boys, with a marginal representation of girls. Think of all those health drink advertisements or those of school stationery like pencils, etc. Even though I wrecked my brain I could not come up with a proper reason behind this except the fact that all these commercials and television serials were playing safe by continuing the stereotypes. They did not want to risk their TRPs or other determinants to their commercial success by venturing out of the existing norm. Is this then a result of the completely profit-oriented corporate culture that has pervaded the world? Perhaps there were other factors too.

One reason could also be the transitory stage in which our society seems to be in today. Our generation of women has probably changed a lot, maybe more than men have. Before you leap to get at my throat, just ponder and think for a minute. Increase in the percentage of educated or career oriented women, changing job scenario, inflation, craving for a higher life-style, lucrative cushion of the double-income system, all these and more have made our men concede to women’s working and also look for working women in the marriage market. But how much have they prepared themselves to share the domestic responsibilities? Why do women still feel guilty for not being able to be a proper homemaker in spite of having a challenging career? Why, in most cases, she has to sacrifice and play the second fiddle to her husband’s prospering career in spite of being equally, if not more, capable?

So what kind of role models are our children getting in their parents? Over anxious mothers, always under the guilt trip of neglecting the home front, and fathers still confused about their role towards their wards? Add to this the grossly lop-sided gender representation in the virtual world. If this is what our children’s minds are fed with, coupled with some parental and grand parental advice to boys such as – don’t cry like a girl, don’t sit in the house like a girl; or to girls like – decent girls do not shout or do not go out after dark, etc., then of course we cannot ever become a society free from gender bias.

Well, but I am not complaining. I belong to the hopeful lot. I think we as women have fared quite well over generations and will continue to do so. But it is time now that we teach our children the true balance of gender roles. If that can be done, we can be more secure of our future and leave a better world for both our daughters as well as our sons. And probably dream of a more peaceful old age too!!

This piece first appeared on Litscapades , the author's personal blog.

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