Disciplining the Westernized Indian Women

The struggle between modernity and traditions has been playing out in many arenas of Indian life, particularly in the lives of women. More Indian women are occupying spaces dominated by men and challenging patriarchal norms than ever before. This is causing great discomfort among traditional men, some of whom are reacting by attacking women in the public arena.  These attacks, which are both verbal and physical, are meant to “keep women in their place” and confine them to homes and domestic roles.

In recent years, nationalist fervor combined with patriarchal ideas have embolden some men to such an extent that they have taken it upon themselves to discipline not just their wives and sisters but any woman who they perceive as “becoming western.” This can be witnessed is beating of women in bars in Mumbai and Mangalore, slapping of an actress for wearing a short dress, a move towards labeling actresses who do “item number” (songs in movies which serve the purpose of titillating the public through music and sexually suggestive dance moves) as prostitutes, and everyday sexual harassment of women who wear jeans and western clothes.