International Women’s Day occurs on the 8th of March every year to celebrate Womankind. The celebration is in the honor of their utmost strength, courage and love. While the whole world celebrates women, we reflect upon our society and popular media to see where women stand in our society.
On the occasion, we approached 2 actors and 2 actresses and questioned them about the portrayal of women in our media and the need for woman centric content on popular mediums. We interviewed popular actors and actresses including actor and singer Junaid Khan, the versatile Shamoon Abbasi, the stunning Sara Loren and the pretty Sophia Mirza.
Why do you think it is important to make female centric content in films/dramas?
Shamoon Abbasi: I believe it is the norm which is being catered worldwide on TV especially because women watch dramas the most. However, how a woman is portrayed on TV has more to do with one’s society. Some societies tend to show empowered and independent women whereas in our society we do see women centric content however women are depicted very weak and dependent which is sad.
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Junaid Khan: I believe women empowerment does not mean to show women doing what men do because men and women are essentially different. Women empowerment means to appreciate the work women already do! Because surely what they do is not lesser in any way. The responsibilities they have at home, their role at home is not easy, it takes hard work and effort. So women centric content on Tv should make them see that we appreciate the work they do. Women centric content exists because women make a huge contribution to our lives and society at large.
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Sara Loren: It is important to have women centric films and dramas because we live in a society where women are suppressed and undermined. Women here tend to sacrifice a lot. They are very naive and innocent. We are conditioned to sacrifice. Hence we require more content made on women that should inspire women and make them more aware. I have myself worked in such projects such as Noori, Main Mar Gaye Shaukat Ali and many more. And I will continue to be a part of such projects in the future too.
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Sophia Mirza: Women centric content is required to make women aware of their rights in our society in order to empower them. They do not know their rights, education is very important. They should be made aware of their roles as a woman, as a daughter and a mother.
2. We see a lot of TV content reinforcing stereotypes which often undermine women. What are your views on it?
Shamoon Abbasi: Yes, like I have said before. Women are bounded in stereotypes and portrayed in a certain image. Producers believe women will be able to relate with these kind of images however that is wrong. Our women have progressed, they have gone to NASA. A Pakistani woman today has proved her self in every aspect of life. They have outperformed in arts, sports, technology, science, singing and so much more. A Pakistani woman has surely progressed except for a segment which suffers from lack of awareness and education.
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Sara Loren: Many dramas do undermine women but it is not wrong because women are are being treated this way in our society. A very large segment in our society treats women badly. Hence this knowledge is required. They need this acknowledgment. They need to be made aware.
Sophia Mirza: TV content undermines women because this is what is actually happening in our society. Girls are taught by parents to compromise and suffer all their lives after they are wedded. They are preached to protect their marriage. Dramas are the depiction of our society. But Is a woman actually weak? No. She is well able to provide for herself.
Junaid Khan: Unfortunately, humans believe in self pity, we as human beings should grow out of self pity. Women will be empowered when they become confident and content in whatever they do, then no one will be able to undermine them. However, Empowerment does not mean to pick up a fight with someone in order to prove yourself, it means to grow and become more mature/confident as a person. Because what women do at homes is no less than what men do. Men too go out and work for someone else, they are essentially doing someone else’s work too therefore women should not feel that doing house chorus for your family members is demeaning in any way, because its not.
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3. How important do you think is “The damsel in distress avatar” for the success of a drama?
Shamoon Abbasi: I believe our society has been conditioned into accepting this avatar. We see women indulging in black magic on TV. We see domestic violence, divorces and several tragedies happening to such young girls. TV channels resort to such content because they believe it works for them. It has worked and hence they stick to it. However I do not agree. I think that such young girls should be shown more independent and adventurous. Yes there are some boundaries, but at the same time the dramas can unfold a learning process for them. They can achieve and become a somebody rather than being shown as a damsel in distress. TV content continues to stress on the concept of a ‘Weak Women’
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Junaid Khan: I do not support nor agree with concept of a “Damsel in distress”. TV content will stop showing such avatars the day women become more confident and content with what they do
Sara Loren: Girls are shown this way because girls here actually do not know their rights. Even their parents do not. We can not ignore the fact that there is a huge segment where women are suffering. What is good is that these dramas always have a message and they end well. They show what happens to evil in the end. These dramas work because this is actually happening.
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Sophia Mirza:The damsel in distress avatar is something that the society forcefully tries to put upon us. TV depicts women as weak but they are actually not. Women today have proved themselves in all walks of their lives. Being a working woman myself, I can assure you, women can do anything.