On a November 4 episode of Off Centre on CNN-News 18, actor Parvathy sat down with Anuradha Sengupta to discuss sexism in the Malayalam movie industry, the Women in Cinema Collective and its aims, the legal challenges women working in the movie industry face when confronted with harassment, working conditions for women, and more. In the course of that conversation, they also touched upon the controversy around the Sabarimala temple women’s entry issue.
While discussing the limits of feminism, empowerment and liberation in Kerala society, which is externally perceived to be very progressive, Parvathy said, “There is an understanding amongst women to be “okay” with it patriarchy. Liberation and empowerment is only to the extent that it’s okay with men.”
In response, Anuradha asked Parvathy whether she thought the opposition from Kerala women to the SC’s verdict on Sabarimala, allowing women between 10 and 50 to enter the temple, came from a similar space.
Parvathy said, “I have not commented on the Sabarimala issue since it happened. But for me this conversation has been happening all my life, about menstruation and impurity. I have always been against it [considering menstruation impure]."
”I’m definitely with the verdict, for sure. But then when you really strip down religion and the patriarchy ingrained in religion, you have to peel a lot of layers before you can have a logical conversation with these women,” she said speaking on patriarchy among women.
She made parallels between women’s reactions to the Sabarimala verdict and the response from senior female actors to patriarchal practises in the film industry.
“Even with regards to the industry, fighting women is way more difficult than men. We have senior actresses who have also gone through assault, who are saying ‘why are you creating a ruckus? Can’t we all just get along?’ And I can’t believe we’re hearing this from actresses who we look up to, who’ve been here for years and gone through abuse. One can’t understand why they’re all right with the muzzling, with keeping quiet. It’s a very grey space. This comes from a space of being okay, and not creating issues.”
She continued, “It also comes from believing sometimes that women are impure when they menstruate, it’s been ingrained in me since I was born. Your purity lies in your vagina, or your virginity for that matter. And that needs to be taken away, I don't know how many generations its going to take, and our voice has to be sustained. I’m scared that it will get muzzled soon if we don't keep it up. We have to join forces with more women, it’s a long fight and it’s very tiring. I’ve stopped asking the question why. I tell myself it just is.”