How many women feature among the country’s top 50 stand-up comics' None, going by a talent hunt contest on the television channel Star One, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. Of the 50 finalists, not one is a woman. So does that mean Indian women cannot laugh, or make others laugh' Not at all, says India’s most-known female stand-up comedian, Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal.
She says the joke’s really on us. Of the 100 career goals her father had set for her, says Kotwal, stand-up comedy featured nowhere. “Indian women have been so silenced, so deprived of confidence for centuries, that this is a totally new and intimidating career for them,” she says. “A career that requires you to be confident, articulate, and to have the ability to laugh at yourself. I am sure there are women like these, but perhaps they have found other careers.” Kotwal isn’t complaining, though. “Actually, it works wonderfully for me ' I have tons of untapped material and no competition.”
Have women in media organisations shattered the glass ceiling' Is the confident woman we see in print and television ads today really the image of the ‘global Indian woman’' These and other key questions were debated at a panel discussion on ‘Women and Media in the Context of Globalisation’ organised by the Institute of Development Studies, Calcutta, last week. Prof. Malini Bhattacharya opened the discussion and the panelists ' media personalities all ' mostly felt that though the media took care to show women as ‘free’, this was often a specious freedom. In the media, as it is elsewhere, women still have a long way to go.
For the first time, the Venice Biennale is being directed by women. Spanish art historians Maria de Corral and Rosa Martinez are the curators of the shows The Experience of Art, and Always a Little Further. Enter the latter and the agenda is blatant. A chandelier made of tampons hangs in the atrium. And posters emblazon the message: “Where are the women artists of Venice'” “Under the men” is the answer, it seems. Many works by the female artists who came from this city remain in the basements of its museums.
The Times, London
Grihini ka kartavya hai ki woh badon ka adar kare, madhur bhasha mein bole, sahansheel bane aur samay par bhojan paka kar de (A housewife must respect elders, speak sweetly, be tolerant, and keep food ready on time). That’s what the UP government teaches its primary school kids. Thankfully, a few are speaking out against such rubbish. At a workshop called ‘Through the gender lens: The construction of nation and identity in school textbooks’, former VC of Lucknow University, Roop Rekha Verma, said: “If this is the image of an ‘ideal’ woman, then thank God that girl students manage to remember their syllabus before the examinations.”
Bollywood just doesn’t seem to get it. Take their latest bizarre offering, Men Not Allowed. Before we go into the profundity of the name itself, let’s dwell on the story. Two girls fall in love with each other, and that’s all. Nothing wrong with that. Except that here the lesbianism is triggered by the girls having been “victims of man’s infidelity and exploitation”. Actress Payal Rohatgi, who plays one of the women in love, says this one is “different” from other lesbian flicks such as Fire and Girlfriend. But hey, they’ve all got the fundamentals wrong. It was never about men, was it'
Overheard... that New Delhi’s Kirori Mal College, in a bid to check sexual harassment on the campus, has introduced a sartorial code for girl students where they have to dress modestly. So how come women in villages, who go around well-covered, get raped'