Firstly, a big vote of thanks for Bombay Times for showing us what the famous cleavage was all about. While its not uncommon for entertainment news websites to highlight images of film celebrities to get quick hits, when India’s leading newspaper, The Times of India went too far on Sunday with their controversial tweet, Bollywood’s leading actress, Deepika Padukone spoke up.
The controversy over Twitter sent users into outrage mode against the newspaper who came forward with #IStandWIthDeepikaPadukone hashtag which has been trending ever since.
Deepika not only slammed TOI on her Twitter account, she also went ahead and posted an open letter to them on her Facebook account. This is what the letter read-
“I have spoken out against an ideology that such regressive tactics are still being employed to draw a reader’s attention at a time when we are striving for women’s equality and empowerment.”
“In a time where women should be applauded for making headway in a male-dominated society, we blur the lines between REEL and REAL life and dilute all our efforts by making a one-year old back sliding piece of news a headline. Digging out an old article and headlining it “OMG: Deepika’s Cleavage Show!” to attract readers is using the power of influence to proliferate recessive thought”.
“It is not about breasts, penises, or any other body part being reported. It is a matter of context and how out-of-context the reportage is just to sell a headline. And more so during a time in dire need of an attitude shift towards women.”
Times of India on the other hand further compounded problems for itself by justifying its actions in their response with their article titled,’Dear Deepika, Our Point if View.’
“Deepika, we accept your reel vs real argument, but what about all the times, and there have been many, when you have flaunted your body off screen — while dancing on stage, posing for magazine covers, or doing photo ops at movie promotional functions? What ‘role’ do you play there? So why the hypocrisy?”
“What’s equally hypocritical is that several media outlets have freely displayed Deepika’s cleavage even as they sounded all outraged on her behalf. Surely they could have reported the story without those pictures?”
TOI said the online world was very “chaotic and cluttered” and sensational headlines were far from uncommon.
“It’s not as if the pictures were shot with hidden cameras, or that someone sneaked into her home, invaded her privacy, and took those pictures without her knowledge/permission.”
Objectifying women has led to bigger hits for entertainment news sites in the past, which is the reason such a tweet was posted in the first place. Internet tabloids have never been kind to women. While it may be considered as a publicity stunt by the actress, it could have been ended sooner. If TOI tweet wasn’t sexist, they shouldn’t have deleted it in the first place. They realized that it was a mistake but instead of a simple apology they went ahead to justify their mistake and cover it up as a compliment. There is no doubt that the actress was objectified, not only in the initial tweet but also in the article that TOI has published in its defense. From one ‘cleavage’ image, they went ahead to print another six images with deep necklines to try the time tested, endorsed by our patriachial society: slut-shame a woman to silence her.
To state that she has done bikini shots in the past is no justification for ‘cleavage news’.“She was a calendar girl for a liquor brand and wears skimpy clothes and now she wants us to refer her and her body parts with dignity. How lame is that?” Are you seriously justifying this?
TOI’s response to her seems like telling ‘she called for it’ and is no different from the guy who eve-teases or whistles and leers at women irrespective of her clothes.
While we know that other media houses who have taken a dig at The Times of India have often resorted to sensationalism and objectification in the past and may continue to do it in the future too. However the moment Deepika raised an objection to it, a simple apology was all that was needed to end this controversy.
Ethics is ethics and is regardless of the medium, whether print or online. Whatever is Deepika’s reason for not raising an objection to an year old picture is not relevant. Maybe she wasn’t aware of it. May be she did it for promoting her upcoming movies. But defending your piece and the kind of reaction that TOI has given confirms that not only the principles are missing, the basic values are lost too. Now we guess, the TOI would be openly promoting an entire gang of creeps who would think of nothing about taking pictures of woman’s cleavage in a crowded bus or metro, after all they are India’s leading newspaper. Their response to ‘objectification’ and the lack of consideration for her feelings was bound to call at outrage.
There is nothing about feminism here.