Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pink Saris

Gender Film blog.

'Pink Saris' is a documentary film about a woman named Sampat in Northern India, who helps to fight for womens equality. Instead of going to the government to fight, Sampat goes directly to the men first. She also started the Gulabi gang (Pink gang), a group of women who want to support the movement as well as Sampat  or has been helped by her at some point. Sampat lives in the poorest part of her country in the lowest caste (class). Where she lives, they don't believe in marrying a lower caste so a lot of the women fall in love and get pregnant by a man that they "can't" marry because they are seen as untouchable. In Sampat's country they also have high rates of women who are illiterate and high rate of mortality in women, mostly because an unwed women is often killed. In their culture the son marries and brings his wife home with him and his parents. So when a daughter marries, she's expected to move in with her husband and his family. Women are seen as a burden. If a women give birth to a baby girl that has complications they won't bring her to the hospital, they just let her die and the mother is also shamed for having a girl in the first place.

There were many situations where a man of a higher caste "loves" or actually loves a women who is untouchable (lowest caste), she gets pregnant and he leaves her either because his family tells him to or he just doesn't want to marry her. Sampat says "we choose our food and our clothes, why not our life partner?" Aside from other people who disapprove of marrying out of your caste, there is also an issue with marrying too young. A lot of these women are/were married off as young as 12 years old. That's pretty much child labor. When a wife marries she's expected to work and help out and be with her husband. These grown men marry children who went from depending on their parent's to depending on their husbands. Without their husbands or family, women in Sampat's country don't have anything. They work just like their husbands but won't have anything to show for it. Wives have been beaten by their husbands, father in-laws, brother in-laws and sometimes raped or molested by their in-laws and run away. Where would they go? Going back home is not an option especially if there was a dowry. So these women either throw themselves in front of trains or somehow find Sampat.

Sampat was once in these women's shoes so she never turns anyone away. She is married to a man from a higher caste but still lives in her poor town. So when those women show up needing help and some where to stay, she lets them stay in her home but it gets crowded. In some cases Sampat is able to diffuse the situation and get couples back together by talking to their families. She doesn't just talk though.. she yells and threatens haha and she calls them stupid. For the not so fortunate girls, she encourages them to study and make something of themselves.

I connected this film to Ayvazian's "Interrupting the cycle of Oppression" because that is what Sampat is doing. Sampat doesn't have male allies but she is being the woman that those young women don't see or ever heard of. Ayvazian says " It's hard for a young woman to grow up thinking she can be an airline pilot if it has never occurred to her that women can, and do, fly jet planes".

I also connected this film to Frye's "Oppression" piece because towards the end she talks about how men's gesture for opening doors and their false helpfulness. Men are seen as the Prince Charming who comes and marry's the women and takes her away. The family is just happy that she has a husband. It is made to seem like he is taking on this burden and doing everyone a favor when in reality he just bought him a slave that he calls his wife. She will cook, clean, work, care for the children, care for his parents, cover herself and not speak in the presence of men, and be beaten if she doesn't listen to their demands. According to Frye, "these gestures imitate the behavior of servants toward their masters and thus mock women."

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