Media Lexis and Cyber World: Perspective of Building Women Image

Dr Shalini Yadav 

यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवताः।

यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफलाः क्रियाः।। 

~मनुस्मृति (३/५६)

Jaipur.  Naari who is also being called a ‘Wonder Woman’ nowadays, was highly regarded with dignity and grace in ancient times in our Vedas, Puranas and other epics written in Indian culture. Either it was about Rani-Maharanis from Royal Gharanas or Sadhavis, they solidified a substantial influence and involvement in decision making and administrative responsibilities and to illustrate and utter, there are names such as Sita, Draupadi, Meerabai, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Jijabai Bhosale, Maharani Gayatri Devi and many more. Though woman’s image has been changed a lot from Veda period till Kalyuga, the era of social media, the cyber world, still she is a subject of discourse, hereafter, ideas are being conceived and aborted in the race of modernity; ethics are being cut and designed like modern outfits; societal norms are being doubted and effected between rise and fall; identity is being driven and misplaced amid right and duty; and re-inspection is being done with further discourse again on a woman. Now while doing the re-inspection, there are questions that arise in mind. Does this cyber world and social media culture assist in equipping woman filling her innerself with vigor and audacity and emancipating her further or tarnishing the prior built up ‘Goddess’ or ‘Devi’ image of her?

The status of women in early times of Ramayana, Mahabharata, along with Vedas and Puranas, the Indian Epic Literature showcased women at higher pedestal but later the image was degraded and social strata with censures and patriarchal mindset aided in differentiation and discrimination being biased in treatment towards women for own benefits. Men took the dominant role making women only slaves for fulfilling domestic responsibilities and treating them inferior and machines to give birth to children. However, it was believed in shastras that ‘here women are worshipped, there live the Gods, wherever they are not worshipped, all actions result in failure (Manusmriti 3/56), yet their condition was deteriorated. Over the time, the image and condition of women kept on changing and identical changes can be perceived now.

If we look at newspapers, magazines, TV channels and other print or online media platforms, women of today are bold, ferocious, self-resilient, liberated, emancipated, authoritative and influential. Though they are handling home and professional front both excellently yet treatment as a sex object is not yet abridged. They are still treated as mere bodies and some contemporary well-regarded female authors such as Meghna Pant in her book 'Boys Don’t Cry' and Meena Kandasamy in 'When I Hit You' voiced against domestic violence and worst treatment like animals towards women being brutal and savage.

Today’s woman in the lexis and expressions of media is a savior and destroyer both; it’s up to the society and men living in it how it could be preceded with. Within her, she has the power to construct, foster and alter and moreover if Durga or Kaali inside is awakened, she can kill the demon and has guts to win her own battles. She is no more the woman of ancient times covering herself in veil or limiting in the four-walled peripheries being submissive. She knows how to fight for her rights and utilize her energy utmost.  

Over the period, due to progresses in IT sector, a worldwide network has been set up surpassing the margins of nationalities and religions and fashioning an impression on nitty-gritty of folks and the diversified arenas. Hence probable influence of media lexis is massive in all alcoves; consequently, women are also not free from the charm and use it for their upliftment. Media is also alike women, can help in construction or destruction both and play a major role contradictorily in women empowerment as well as portrayal of her as sex object. For example the song of Pathaan Movie where veteran actress Deepika Padukone performed with Shahrukh Khan wearing Saffron colored bikini and how it was hyped and a lot of controversial news had swamped almost all newspapers and social sites about it, highlighting the pictures, scenes and opinions by individuals and communities. Besides, ironically to express, people enjoyed the song privately making it more famed and wide reaching, still criticized the actress and her act overtly.

One side, media projects woman as an object of entertainment and on the other hand, it criticizes the act itself. Like on the railway station of Patna, Bihar, porn was shown and people relished it utmost and local media displayed it everywhere still women have to take all the blames and their images are being tarnished and more restrictions are to be imposed. 

Hence journalism was men’s territory earlier based on their chauvinistic thought process, women image conveyed by media has still not fully improvised and men even after doing crime are portrayed as heroes and women as the cause of the act. Consequently, cybercrimes related to women have also increased making their audio-video clips and doing these viral on social sites further forcing many girls and women to take drastic steps in weakened jiffies of their lives such as suicide.

Current journalistic culture needs to change the course of action hence it’s still far behind the way it is expected to contribute and alter the pre-prevailing male dominating approach of looking at women as an entertainment stuff to put forward in front of the  readers and spectators hence it creates lasting impact on brains of youth of the nation not to have regard for women and girls, leading further towards more cybercrimes and day-to-day insecurities and loopholes in societies. Beyond treating woman as a subject of sensuality and entertainment and men as macho and impactful, digital technologies, internet resources and media houses should be used to create plethora of opportunities for women rather than being a reason of harassment and more abuses and assist them to be fearless and independent financially.

In the era of netizens, where TikTok videos, reels, Insta-Facebook stories, and twitter should assist in creating the positive identity, it’s bringing criticism and more trolls at times. The stereotype and sexist image of women has to be overlooked focusing and promoting her other virtues and skills and the wonders she does or can do as an entrepreneur, writer, doctor, player, teacher, homemaker, politician or actress etc. serving the family and the society. So, the image has to be constructive not destructive and media has to doubly crosscheck that, henceforth it will add in the perception of the world to see women grow optimistically.

Distortion of image through commercialized advertisements, tv dramas, and web series showing them seminude or flaunting body unnecessarily for the sale of the products or TRPs of the serials and fame of the OTT series, is also common practice that has to be taken into consideration for a positive change in the mindset of media and folks for implementation. There should be some brainstorming and image building taglines or punchlines. More serious problems and earthly issues should be presented so that domestic violence, rape, eve-teasing, pornography, sexual harassment, and other cybercrimes related to women can be lessened. In a way, women in any society or nation play a vital role in the holistic growth, therefore they have to be secured and their growth has to be taken care of well. And media can play an important role in awakening and social change. 

Sensitizing the cases of victims, making it a sensational news if any sex racket is disclosed, for more likes, comments and fan following is a trendy thing for local journalists and even for reputed news channels for TRPs though it’s morally and legally unfair to do. Either it’s a brutal rape case of a child, teenage or college going girl or an old lady or the horrid murders and shameful crimes, media need not to spice up the news differently and should be more sensible in handling such grave issues like earlier done in cases of Unnao, Bhanwari Devi, Nirbhaya, Hathras, Kathua, Jisha case etc.  

Although media is simultaneously addressing drives related to empowerment and equality, yet supposed to be more responsible and sensible in handling solemn subjects without diminishing the image of women and more focus should be on coverages of areas of achievements and global recognition, additionally, ensuring health and quality education. The participation and involvement of women as decision makers and policy makers in journalism should be a step to improvise, deal with and censor information to put forward and should be given serious positions and roles in communication technologies and media networks to strengthen the image of women and to make media policies better in handling issues related to women.