Women empowerment has been an issue playing in the heart of society for a long time, and individuals have been expressing their thoughts on this since time immemorial. One may only wonder what happened to that spark of womanhood that burned in flames as Jon of Arc was awarded death by burning at nineteen years of age. She had led the French army to many important battles during the Hundred Year’s War in the 14th century.
That spark, however, subsided as women soon became a topic of lesser concern, and society evolved to be a patriarchal one. If we trace history we will know that popular culture has dedicated immensely to the cause of empowering women, in all spheres, whether it is films, literature or music. Let us trace popular culture and appreciate the efforts of artists who have dared to turn against the tide so as to give voice to women.
For a man to watch Italian film maker Federico Fellini’s ‘La città delle donne’ (City of Women) is a horrific experience. The sexually charged protagonist lands in a hideous looking part of town that houses and breeds women militants who are against the patriarchal setting of society. If a man indeed visits a city of women it would be a matter of joy, he would travel the corners of such a place feasting his eyes and being the proverbial icing on a cake. But Fellini’s city cries anti man slogans, where women who have grown tired of man’s colossal stature in society have created a parallel society of their own.
The film explores the mind of a man, who is terribly hung over with notions of being a superior animal than women, and uses sexual gratification as a definite way to satisfy this illusion. The experience of the protagonist reaches its heights when he is nearly raped by a sex starved farm woman and then is taken on a ride by a carload of doped-up asexual teenage girls which proves to be pretty joyless. City of Women spits on the face of men so bad that for most of the film you would be terrified.
George Elliot, the famous English novelist of ‘Mill on the Floss’ and ‘Adam Bede’ fame was actually Mary Ann Evans. She had to change her name so that she could be taken seriously as an author in a society that was ruled by men. The most famous of all the women authors who has captured public imagination are the Bronte sisters. It has been documented in history that the Bronte sisters have had tragic lives, and all three of them had died young. Charlotte, Emily and Anne have created major literature works in their short life time with women as the lead characters in them. Charlotte Bronte’s most famous work is Jane Eyre; Emily Bronte’s most famous is Wuthering Heights that has even been made into a film, and the youngest Anne Eyre had written a largely autobiographical novel entitled Agnes Grey. The Bronte sisters brought women’s literature to the limelight, and through their protagonists had given voice to the issues of women. Author Virginia Woolf of “Mrs Dalloway” fame is yet another example of female novelists who has exemplified herself as one of the reigning figures of modern literature writing through her stream of consciousness style of narration.
The banning of an all girl’s music band name Ghazal in Kashmir has left the nation of India in a shock. At a time when we are talking about the empowerment of women, it is only right for a woman band to come up in the scene. The nation of India which boasts of female singers like Begum Akhtar, Lata Mangeshkar, and Asha Bhonsle has witnessed an uncouth stunt pulled by certain sections of the society.
The world has seen numerous all girls band that has stunned music lovers as they proved that girls can rock as hard as guys. The Runaways with Joan Jett was one such all girl band that reached the pinnacle of success at a very tender age. Joan Jett in the Runaways’ famous number entitled Cherry Bomb had said, “Hello world, I am your wild girl, Cherry Bomb”, thus announcing the arrival of a sensational new woman in the heart of mankind. Even today as we sit to discuss this piece, there are numerous women all across the world expressing themselves in the form of music. Today the benchmark has been raised by all female metal girl bands like Hell Cats, and Virgin Killers. Other famous world renowned female musicians include, Aretha Franklin, Cher, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, and Patti Smith who is widely known as ‘the queen of rock and roll’.
No one better but Swami Vivekananda had said, “If you do not raise the women, who are living embodiment of the Divine Mother, don’t think that you have any other way to rise.” How prepared are we to raise the spirit of womenhood?
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