Flix Friday, January 16, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | September 26, 2014 | 11:39 am IST  At a time when women's rights and safety issues are one of the major concerns in India, it is the ironically the media that is in news, and for all the wrong reasons. And it is the common men and women who are taking a stand and speaking up for themselves.  'The Harvard US India Initiative's recent â€œemBODYindia” campaign is gathering momentum on the social media. In a series of photographs uploaded on tumblr, “emBODYindia” campaign attempts to project how we treat women and their bodies vs how we should treat them- the message being a woman's body is her own.  The photographs show many students holding posters, each with a different message. Some of the students, including both men and women appear to be have gone topless, although none have gone 'nude' or 'topless', and that seems to have also served as fodder for some media organisations. “Instead of taking the campaign as a whole, the entire Indian media has picked up on ‘Oh, Harvard students go topless". Exactly what we were trying to say was ‘you shouldn’t be doing this.", Disha Verma, one of the organisers, told The Harvard Crimson. Verma also told The Crimson that “As an organization in the U.S.“there’s usually not much on-the-ground impact we can have, right? But where we can make an impact is in social and cultural issues and how people think about things.” The campaign has also taken into account the recent argument between The Times of India and actor Deepika Padukone, and the reaction and discussion that ensued.  A blog titled MY body, MY choices: #emBODYindia published on The Harvard US India Initiative's website, talks about TOI's blatantly sexist explanation in response to Padukone's Facebook post on how the media organisation disrespected her as woman with a video pointing, literally, at her cleavage.  Referring to the 'particularly disheartening' publication by The Times of India titled “Dear Deepika, our point of view…”, part of the blog reads: "While their staff is surely indulging themselves in congratulatory backslaps for their paltry witticisms, what they sadly fail to realize is the dangerous precedent they are setting with regard to the portrayal of women’s bodies in the Indian media." "Yet, in reality, publishing a picture of a person’s breasts, surrounded by red arrows and circles, is ultimately no better for a woman than being ogled on the street. It is an act equally lacking in consent, and one that has much greater potential to harm and violate the victim. " Though in this particular incident TOI is bearing the brunt for not just the content they published, but also in the way they chose to justify their actions, the blog also raises questions about how the media, as a whole, somewhat portrays women in different lights to suit their preferences. emBODYindia at present comprises of sixteen students and the Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana and a second set of photoshoots is also said to be soon posted online. ( All images source: US-India Initiative Facebook Page )
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