Let’s be honest: The Deepika Padukone #VogueEmpower video is not that empowering.

For the past two days I’ve seen a slew of posts on my Facebook News Feed about this new feminist video starring Deepika Padukone (among other women). I was intrigued but never got down to watching it till about two hours ago. I watched it and then I thought –

“What did I just watch?”

“Is this really portraying empowerment?”

“Am I a horrible woman for not liking this video?”

For about 5 minutes, I did feel like a terrible person for not liking this video. Then I read this and I realised, I was not alone. Which made me happy and then I got angry.

This video has garnered 2 million views in the last two days and the majority believe that this video really shows women’s empowerment?! I don’t think it does.

Let’s start at the beginning –  Why not have a woman directing the video? Why is this poetic diatribe addressed to a man (it definitely is. there is talk about “having your child” later in the monologue)? Yes, there is talk of homosexuality and bisexuality but you’re just using words to trigger shock and awe.

“My choice. To be a size 0 or size 50 (pregnant woman shown), they don’t have a size for my spirit… and never will.”

While they supposedly show 99 women in the video, there was not very much range in the sizes of women shown, and if I missed it, it was because this video chooses to concentrate on a few “celebrities”. You may say I’m grasping at straws here, but I honestly did not see bigger women in this video, why is that? And it was not cool to show a pregnant woman as the upper limit of the size range. Also, if there was representation of women with disabilities, I missed that too for the aforementioned reason.

“your mind is caged let it free; my body is not, let it be”

If someone can explain what this line is supposed to signify, that would be great. To me it seems like a sentence dripping in pretentiousness!

“to have sex before marriage, to have sex outside of marriage, to not have sex.”

While pre-marital sex and not having sex are perfectly fine choices. Why are you promoting adultery? I mean, it’s fine if you and your spouse have some sort of agreement on your sex life but otherwise this is verging on amoral and is that what women’s empowerment is about?

“remember, you are my choice, i’m not your privilege.”

Do I understand the word “privilege” differently? I think everyone should be honoured if they have been chosen to be loved by someone else.

Of course, this goes on for the rest of the video ending with the absolute heights of pretentiousness:

“I am the tree not the forest. I am the snowflake not the snowfall. you are the snowflake.

wake up. get out of the shit storm (?) and choose to empathise or to be indifferent. i choose to be different. 

i am the universe, infinite in every direction. this is my choice.”
While empowerment is about SOME of the things that were mentioned in the video, it is largely not about anything in the video. Look, we do not need to go into this cosmic voodoo metaphor. Women’s empowerment in India IS about choices but it’s not about the cosmos and goddesses and sunlight and snowflakes. It’s about my choice to study whatever I want and to pursue the career I want. My choice to have a girl child and not be pressured to abandon or abort that child. My choice to give you a gift on the day of our wedding and not to be coerced into paying dowry. My choice to speak my mind and not face violent consequences for it. I’m just naming a few things off the top of my head. (feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments)

The video is just a string of seemingly empowering words and sentences put together with maximum screen time given to one gorgeous woman, who none of us (Indian woman) really can relate to.

P.S – I’d like to give a shout out to Madhuri Dixit’s #VogueEmpower ad. I think that video did a much better job of conveying a message.

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