No Splitsvilla, Promoting The ‘Behenji’ Stereotype Is Not Cool

Posted: September 3, 2019

In a recent episode of Splitsvilla, some female contestants addressed another young woman as ‘Aunty’ or ‘Behenji’. When will taunting women based on their appearance stop?

Splitsvilla is a popular show that airs on MTV. The concept of the show is to help a bunch of strangers find their ideal match. They do this through a series of physical challenges as well as other informal sessions.

Other than helping find the ideal match, the show is also known to objectify men and women. In the past seasons, the show had instances where the sole objective of the contestants was to seduce each other. Most of the things that happen in the show suggest the judging parameters to be physical ‘hotness’ and sensuousness.

Why is Splitsvilla promoting it?

To sum up, the show has been blatantly promoting objectification, gender stereotypes and girl on girl hate. The latest season sadly is no different.

In the first episode of the 12th season, women contestants are introduced. While they are having a conversation on groupism, a group of young women taunts the other women and terms them ‘aunties’.

What happens is that three women, Bhavya, Miesha and Ahana, were discussing about the contestants who they would want in their group during the competition.

On this note, Bhavya says that she doesn’t want Soundarya in their group because she argues when Bhavya calls Arshiya (another contestant), Aunty.

“She (Soundarya) said why are you calling her (Arshiya) like that…like aunty”, Bhavya says.

She then goes on to justify herself by saying that, “Girl you need to look good for sure. Unse (Arshiya) kafi behenjiyo wali vibes aati hain to is season mai unhe Aunty hi bolungi.” (I get really aunty vibes from her. So I will call her aunty!)

Well no, Bhavya that’s not how you address people.

Why the prejudiced stereotype?

What happened in Splitsvilla is infuriating, but sadly, that is something pretty usual in our society. The word behenji is used as a taunt for a woman whose appearance is very ‘simple’.

For our society, the word behenji is synonymous with a ‘simple-looking’ woman who supposedly doesn’t have a sense of style. People will call her behenji if she chooses not to wear jeans, miniskirts or shorts. She is not cool enough to be called a fashionista.

The word is mostly used to ridicule. Specifically, in metro cities where clothes are equivalent to modernism. So if any girl in a metro city is not seen as ‘hot or sexy’, then she has to hear the word behenji.

Though behenji or aunty literally mean elder sister or an older woman, in practice it is used to ridicule woman. On the other hand, bhaiyya is used to address men with respect.

Modern vs Behenji

This entire incident raised the age old debate of tagging people as modern or behenji. All of this is just based on their behaviour or clothes. Our country is divided into two sections and both of them are judgemental.

In one part, a girl/woman is judged for wearing jeans, hanging out with boys and even working outside of the house. Whereas in the other, she has to fit into the stereotype of being a bombshell, hot, chic and the like. Otherwise, a ‘behenji’ tag is stuck on her.

The most fascinating part here is that very often, the behenji tag is given by a woman to other women. This Splitsvilla incident shows how women can also be so judgemental.

And mind you, this was broadcast on TV and so far I haven’t seen either MTV or even Bhavya release an apology for promoting such a mentality.

We need to understand that if people tagging women who wear short clothes as ‘characterless’ is wrong then women tagging others as ‘behenji’ just because their clothes are simple is also wrong.

Picture credits: Screenshot from the latest season of Splitsvilla 

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