She’s always a woman to me!
As I sit down to write this, the news of actor Sridevi’s untimely demise, which struck our smartphones early last Sunday morning, making us rub our eyes out of a sleep-foggy disbelief, is yet to sink in. Away in Dubai to attend a relative’s wedding, the heart-throb of millions of Indians passed away, way too early at 54. Social media was soon trending with the ‘other perspective’ of an increasingly perfect world intolerant towards imperfections. Even before the cause of death was clear, netizens got into dicussions about how her alleged surgical interventions to remain in shape might have affected her cardiac health. In the unforgiving world of glamour and showbiz, there is no room for flab, creases and wrinkles for well-heeled women of leisure, argued some. Nose jobs, derma fillers, tummy tucks are very commonplace ‘lunch break’ procedures, but what is the price one pays for such nips and tucks? Soon enough, a ‘wave of protest’ washed social media timelines, expressing horror at such distaste being shown to someone in death. Shouldn’t we remember and revere her talent, instead? Agreed, RIP.
Meanwhile, the world of commerce is not fazed by all that – instead I open my mailbox to find the ubiquitous Womens’ Day celebration invites and a zillion sales-spiel-induced offers. Shopping sites are on marketing overdrive, perhaps even more than on Valentine’s Day. Diamonds, cosmetics giveaways, women only getaways, including fun and frolic trips to Ramoji Film City. There are the invites from art galleries, offices etc. Will you please share your experiences as a ‘woman’ journalist, asks a rep from an IT company. I am left wondering if my gender has ever come in the way of being a journalist. Not when I covered a murder as a metro reporter even though I didn’t handle the crime beat for the national daily I was then working for. But yes, there was gender bias of the market diktat kind, at an upmarket women’s magazine, where I was then working, when outsourced surveys on what A-lister women of a certain age group would like to read became the new mantra.
According to their surveys, tips on action between the bedsheets, cosmetic surgeries, relationship tips topped the agenda of most urban women. Reality: Speaking with women professionals and women of leisure revealed a different story, that they were just seeking a doable work-life balance. A few years ago, a five-star hotel located near Shamshabad Airport had celebrated Womens’ Day in a unique manner. After hosting their women guests overnight in their luxury rooms, an all-women’s flight piloted and stewarded by women and carrying only women passengers, including badminton champ Saina Nehwal and lawyer Abha Singh took off to Chennai. Photo options at Chennai airport by media, some local and others national, done, the flight returned to Hyderabad. Some might argue that this was also a tokenism, but the feeling of two women flying your plane, being attended by women stewards and ground staff and be accompanied by a plane load of women was somewhat liberating and exhilarating, up in the skies. In the end, what women want is intangible and something which can’t be decoded.
As Billy Joel sang, “She can kill with a smile, She can wound with her eyes….She hides like a child…But she’s always a woman to me…”
(The writer is a journalist, blogger, food critic and a self-professed culture vulture.)