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Post the release of the track Singapenney from the upcoming Tamil movie Bigil, a trending hashtag on Twitter, #SaluteMySingapenney is asking people to salute the women in their lives. But when so many of the tributes praise the women for being so self-sacrificing, is it really a cause for celebration?
The song Singapenney (Lioness), from the upcoming Diwali release Bigil was released online recently. Described as a “Woman Anthem” the catchy song, composed and sung by A R Rahman also features Sashaa Tirupati and has lyrics by Vivek Velmurugan.
The song begins with the director of the movie, Atlee, and the lyricist Vivek giving A R Rahman a brief of what they expect from the song. They say that they want to offer a genuine and heartfelt tribute to all women. They also say that in songs women are traditionally associated with soft and weak things like flowers, and that by doing this a subconscious message is being sent to women that they are weak, and so they want the song to counter that.
Bigil, a sports drama with Nayanthara and Vijay in the leading roles, is about the Tamil women’s football team, and Vijay plays the coach of the team. The few visuals that are available (even in the song!) seem to feature Vijay front and centre as the “hero” while the women fade away behind him, and that doesn’t bode well for the sort of message the movie seems to be aiming for. One can only hope that this isn’t just one more “male savior” movie.
Meanwhile, Archana Kalpathi, CEO of AGS Cinemas, has shared a promotion on Twitter, encouraging people to share photos of their own “singapenney,” with the hashtags #SaluteMySigapenney and #BigilWomenTribute for a chance to be included in a special Special “Bigil Tribute” video on YouTube.
She also shared a picture of her mom and aunts, writing, “My mom and both my Aunts taught me that strength is beauty, to protect others is kindness and speaking my mind no matter what is true courage.”
While that is a great reason to celebrate women, most of the other tributes being posted caught my eye for less than ideal reasons. Many people, especially men, have saluted their mothers, sisters and wives for “all the sacrifices they have made,” for being “caring and loving” and “supporting them at all times.”
It made me wonder –do women deserve to be celebrated only for their roles as nurturers?
I understand the desire to celebrate the women who are close to us. I too would call my mother and grandmother my “lionesses.” But not for the sacrifices they have made. Instead, they are an inspiration to me for the things that they have refused to give up, for the talents they have and for the opportunities they have created for me. If anything, considering the fact that they have had to make some sacrifices makes me feel guilty, rather than proud.
Celebrating women only for being mothers, sisters or wives only excludes a lot of women. Not all women can be mothers. Not all are sisters. Not all women are wives. But all women possess some talents and strengths of their own and they shine in spite of the challenges and restrictions placed on them by society.
So celebrate women for who they are as individuals and for their achievements big or small. To celebrate them for who they are in relation to men, is not a celebration at all, as it makes it all about the men.
And while a song in tribute to women is nice, I do wish that men would do more. Like listen to women, and understand what they want; talk about feminism, not to women, but to other men; and actively work to dismantle systems and traditions that maintain inequality.
Without real action and real changes, tributes are just meaningless, empty words.
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Vijayalakshmi Harish is a book blogger and writer. To paraphrase her librarian, she is a
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