Meri Beti Sunny Leone Banna Chahti Hein, is a short film, posted on YouTube, by director Ram Gopal Varma.
The title of the film is intriguing, and makes you instantly click on it, at the same time making you wonder what the message behind the video is, because our intuition and socialisation tells us that nobody would literally want to be a pornstar, by choice.
Except that’s exactly what the film portrays. A girl in conversation with her parents, trying to convince them that she wants to be a pornstar.
The intention of the film seems to be two-fold:
First, to argue that an individual’s career is a matter of choice, irrespective of what people’s opinion about that profession is.
Second, to argue that a woman’s sexuality needs to be celebrated and expressed, not hidden and supressed.
However, the arguments put forward in the film, are arguing less in favour of choice and the right to express one’s sexuality, and more in favour of the right to have sex in exchange for money, not because of need, but choice.
The girl argues that “Pornographic videos make crores of people happy.”, and “just like everyone in the world sells something in exchange for money, Sunny Leone sells her sex appeal.”
However, giving arguments in favour of the porn industry, is not capable of overshadowing the adverse impact of pornography.
The temporary pleasure to crores of people is also accompanied with a steady diet of pictures, videos, fantasies, that degrade women, and often portray them as objects to be fucked or played around with.
Pornography reinforces stereotypes of what constitutes “real sex”, and that sex is only the thrusting of the man’s penis into the woman’s vagina. This heterosexual act asserts the primacy of the penis, and renders the experience of the woman irrelevant.
It also reinforces images of what is expected from a man and woman during sexual intercourse.
Women have reported experiences of being made to do humiliating and painful things, just to satisfy fantasies that are planted into men’s heads through pornographic videos.
There is also the pressure on women, wives, girlfriends, to accept that their partner watches porn, otherwise they would be labelled as “jealous”, or “not cool enough”.
The question we need to ask is whether Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution i.e. freedom of trade and profession, also includes occupations that cause real tangible harm, to individuals other than those who are in that profession.
By the logic of the film, that is promoting the choice to be a pornstar, a killer should not be punished, he was simply exercising his freedom of profession when he chose to become a murderer.
Ofcourse, the reaction of the parents in the film isn’t a logical refutation of the arguments made by the girl. They tell her that “She is mad”, ask her, “What will people say?”, and inform her that “Nobody will marry you.”. Although, this reaction is an accurate representation of what parents would say if such a demand was expressed, the film failed to do what it intended to do.
A majority of the comments under the video are asking Ram Gopal Varma how he would feel if his daughter wanted to become a pornstar. The emphasis on one-sided arguments in favour of the right to sell one’s body for sex, takes away from the intended message.
The discourse it has generated is primarily about pornography, and not about the right of a woman to choose her own path, even if it may deviate from the normal.
Hamblin, Angela (1983) `Is a Feminist Heterosexuality Possible?', in Sue Cartledge and Joanna Ryan (eds) Sex and Love: New Thoughts on Old Contradictions. London: The Women's Press.