[I am going to make this public so if people have opinions and feedback, I’d love to have it. Hope you don’t mind.]
Thanks for the reply and the encouragement. Really appreciate it. =) The reason I asked this question was because I have read a bunch of posts on Tumblr (very few, not a lot) on ethnic stereotyping in the porn industry, (for example, this) and in terms of Asian women, mostly East Asians are discussed (if anyone has posts on South Asians, women or men, please send them along, I’d love to read!). I wondered about South Asians, and of course, I thought about Bollywood. I may be wrong, but I do think that the outside world (or at least in America), the “sexiness” of South Asians is portrayed a lot through Bollywood. I don’t know if those caricatures (I don’t know if this is the right word) are taken into the porn industry for the consumption of your usual white, cis-hetro-male consumer, but I do know that as a South Asian, you cannot escape Bollywood. Please don’t get me wrong; I think there are characters and women in Bollywood who are very self-possessed , and have very feminist overtones, but I think its also interesting how Bollywood affects views about sexuality in the region. I think that in comparison, where Hollywood might be consumed and internalized very easily to their white viewers (I don’t know about their other consumers), I think Bollywood as a contrast also gets a very strong polar reaction: for example, my conservative family looking down on everything Bollywood, even the “old” Bollywood (read: from my parent’s generation when things where “cleaner”, whatever that means), the idea that “good girls don’t do this”. I don’t see that kind of reaction to Hollywood (I might be wrong). In extension, I also wonder if Bollywood has an influence on how South Asian women are fetshized in porn.
I hope this makes sense. I think if I really get down to it, it would make for a fantastic research study (I don’t know if its been done or not, in which case… .)
[I know this was addressed to only one person, but anyone is free to reblog, and add commentary to this of course =) ]
[I don’t mind at all! I’d love it if more people added to this conversation, it could only be made better :) ]
Hm, I don’t really know anything about how South Asian women in particular are stereotyped in porn (mostly because I haven’t seen anything with South Asian women, but I know it exists). But I can see how what you’re saying would make sense. But yeah, I can’t really comment on that.
I know that my mom’s said that (non-South Asian) people’ve have asked her about women wearing less-conservative type saris and “modernized” traditional clothes lol. Like, she says that people have this image of India (in specific, at least that’s how my mom told me, but maybe this can be attributed to the fact that people tend to say all of South Asia is the same, and often speak about it very Indo-centrically) because of Bollywood films. I’d agree that Bollywood is probably the main avenue through which the West sees South Asia.. which also leads to a very monolithic view of our peoples and cultures. But yeah, in specific to what you’re saying about sexuality, from what my mom has said about her coworker’s saying stuff, it seems that people think we’re more sexual than I think traditional South Asian society sees itself. Which is interesting, because as you said for yourself, Bollywood was portrayed to me as something that was almost negative because it was sexual and that it was “westernized.”
Also, even if someone’s done a similar topic for research before, you can always still do it! Theory is modified by further research! And often suggestions are given at the end of research papers for what further research on the topic should ideally do! So you could always check that out! (I’m very fond of exclamation points)
this is kind of all over the place and idk if it even is directly related to what you’re saying! And I know I kind of just rehashed what I said in my submission to you, but this way I guess other people can know what I said before haha
it’s time for class soon so this is all I have for now!
[also there’s a Malayalam film I want to recommend to you (since you mentioned self-possessed women), but idk if I could find it online with subtitles..I’ll message you about it later]
Hey sis. Remember that drama series in Pakistan where one of the characters went off modelling and it upset her parents so much it depressed her father and eventually he had a heart attack and died? And the family shunned her forever? I remember that episode, that was five years ago and ami never really let me watch those dramas when you two did.
It feels like that seemed a somewhat accurate portrayal of how the older generation think of when desi women go into any media. And/or take control of their own sexuality. It becomes a huge “oh meri ma” scandalous matter. And sexuality is normalized as existing for men’s consumption, so when women reclaim it back they’re seen as being scandalous and should be shunned and immoral and whoa.
At the same time, while those women are portrayed as being confident/ in possession of their sexuality, they’re still often portrayed as for male gazes, for male consumption, and often presented as light and beautiful and skinny and without body hair. There was a post I read once, oopp, here it is, and I appreciated it- heck, I was surprised something like that even existed.
And she’s right, by the way.
Or, heck, since you mentioned sex and submissiveness/seductiveness/what the ever loving heck- you know what, different women like different things, and yeah, there are women who like being submissive/ not dominant in bed, but can well all keep in mind that being submissive does not equal relinquishing control over consent? Before and during sex? Possibly irrelevant, but anyway.
I think all of you are exactly right about this topic. As South Asian women, we are desexualized for having darker skin, often less “white”-looking features, etc. etc. etc., whether in the East or in the West. Unless we’re light-skinned, thin, etc. we are seen as undesirable for not fitting the Eurocentric beauty ideal. When I was younger and used to watch old Hindi movies from the 50s-60s with my mother and grandmother, I noticed that almost all the female characters fit the same trope of the shy, soft-spoken ingenue, often without agency or real independence, particularly WRT control over their bodies/sexuality. Those who didn’t were frequently villainized or slut-shamed or whatever. Yet at the same time South Asian women are hypersexualized — and in the West, fetishized — because of the image that modern Bollywood presents: hundreds of dancing girls in sexy outfits dancing sexily and sex sex sex sex SECKSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I mean, look at all the [racist!] Sexy Bollywood Halloween costumes that are out there now. While it could contribute to Indian/South Asian women being more confident with their bodies, there’s only a narrow range of skin tones and body types (fair and thin — heck, even white british women incur into Bollywood movies), which defeats the purpose. Except the main purpose is to appease the omnipresent male gaze and has little to nothing to do with sex positivity/body positivity for women. I’m sure there are plenty of Bollywood movies out there that do portray female characters with strength, agency, and independence — but the ones that show more sexyfundancing seem to be the most “successful” in terms of marketing and popularity outside South Asia/in the Western world.
I don’t think the modern hype of sexy bollywood would create a sex positivity for most South Asian women (of course, I could be wrong). We are all pushed into this weird paradox, and I mean even Bollywood did it, because, as you said, those who are “confident” in their bodies are villains or bratty desi girls growing up in “foreign” culture, so defnitly not “good girls”. That is such a paradox to live with. To look at characters that appreciate their body and sexuality, but at the same time, they are bad characters because of that.
As I said, so much meat in here.