Author : Ria Bhatnagar
Indus International School, Bangalore
Music is a significant tool in studying the socio-cultural norms, attitudes and beliefs of a society. Representations of women are often defined by how men view women, or by how society expects women to look and behave. The present study aims to explore the shifting representations of females and female sexuality in India from 1970 to the present through the lens of Bollywood ‘item songs’. A Thematic Analysis of the lyrical content of four songs, chosen through purposive sampling technique was carried out. The findings indicate that item songs illustrate a gendered power dynamic, stereotyping and normalisation of rape culture. Given the rising number of cases of violence against women and the internalised objectification of women in Indian society, it is imperative to investigate how such media is influencing individual’s values, perceptions and choices. The hypersexualisation and fixation on women’s physical appearance and bodies leads to unrealistic body standards and expectations, which could result in psychological disorders related to eating and body dysphoria. These implications of the study are discussed further.