Everyday Sexism As ‘Care’ For The Daughter

Pushed into a hole of the uncertainty of a stranger's house, Jaya finds new images of subdued aggression, subtly and deftly hidden under the wraps by the ever-hardworking mother.

One Malayalam movie about which discussions were rife about the strong feminist message that it put forth is Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey.

It is the tale of the eponymous character Jaya who has been brought to us as the darling daughter, who grew up to realize the gender inequity smuggled into the household under the guise of care.

When her brother is beaten for tearing the books and Jaya is spared the punishment, we see a lovey-dovey family. But the fact is that the brother’s pre-used books which are handed down to Jaya should be in good condition. So much for loving their daughter.

When the girl is interrupted rudely for whistling, the audience sees a reflection of their childhood where they are brought up with the ideology that girls of good families don’t whistle. At least some of us would have.

The poor guy with a sad temper

The girl who is forced into a marriage because she had a showdown with her misogynistic boyfriend is a burden. Pushed into a hole of the uncertainty of a stranger’s house, Jaya finds new images of subdued aggression, subtly and deftly hidden under the wraps by the ever-hardworking mother.

When he slaps his wife, the mother tells him that what he did was wrong. And that’s it. Fed up with the continuous attack on her body, soul, and self-respect, Jaya finally clandestinely learns martial arts to get back at her abusive husband. Till this point, the movie stands by the ideology of feminism, equality, and freedom. But further, maybe I am the only one with this opinion but further, the movie plunges into an engaging comedy thriller when Jaya after learning martial arts attacks her husband to teach him a lesson.

Is hitting back the solution?

The movie superficially addresses the topic of domestic violence by insinuating that the girl is a winner because she hit back. Why hitting back is the only solution? Why not move legally, or get financially independent and stand up for herself? While the scene where she beats him to help is an adrenaline rush moment, making the movie all about it is tough to digest.

Why remove the child from the picture?

After getting beaten up, he decides to somehow make her acquiesce so that he could impregnate and lock her in the house. Though he succeeds in this below-the-belt plan, Jaya gets a whiff of it and faints, falling flat on the ground and removing the child from the scenario.

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Why? If the movie speaks about equality and empowerment why remove the child conveniently out of the picture? If Jaya had proceeded with the pregnancy, the movie would have been all the more engaging without any loopholes. Had she gained financial independence while she worked from home while she was still in the marriage and raising the child, the movie would have been a statement about the independence, respect, and financial stability of a woman. But instead, we see a mass entry of the heroine who takes up her husband’s rival’s business and runs it with the power of her martial arts self-training.

Had the movie not been celebrated as feminist statement, the movie would.have been a funny entertaining experience. But promoting it as a statement of women empowerment just spoiled the experience for me.

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