Ayesha-An Empowered or an Oppressed Woman?
Ayesha Mehra is one of the lead characters, of the blockbuster Bollywood movie entitled "Dil Dhadakne Do." Ayesha is a successful self-made businesswoman who’s made quite the name in the travel industry however who is unhappy in her marriage and feels that she is not compatible with her husband. Throughout the movie, she is constantly demeaned by her mother-in-law, who constantly taunts and jibes about her outrageous independence. However that is not all, even Ayesha’s own mother, aware of Ayesha’s turbulent marriages tells her to focus on her marriage rather than her career. But the same mother champions her son and considers her the heir of the business empire and coerces him to prepare him, as he has to one day take up the responsibility of his father. Ayesha's husband sees her career as little more than a hobby to be entertained and allowed, for him she will serve her actual purpose when she bears him children. Throughout the movie, Ayesha loses her voice and intellect as we see her husband dominating her way of living. To him, Ayesha is solely child-bearer and rearer. The aforementioned characters are influenced by the American sociologist Talcott Parsons's ideology. Parsons argued that stable families were key to the smooth functioning of society and stability was to be ensured through a clear-cut division of labor within the household, with women performing expressive roles, providing care and security for children. Men should perform instrumental roles, being the breadwinners of the family. This complementary division of labor will ensure the stability of the family. Women although suffering from the same pain, reproduce and ensure that women in their family do the same, in shame of being a deviation from the society they work to maintain the gender order.
The movie portrays Ayesha as helpless and oppressed, who needs one or the other patriarch to save her from her misery. Ayesha’s oppression and Manav’s domination are
rooted due to patriarchy. We see empowered and independent women in the movie, but at the same time, we see the same women silent to the oppression they face, who need the patriarch to free them from the miseries they face. One may argue, and we agree that this movie is indeed different having an empowered female at the center of attention, but is she really empowered when she is constantly being pulled down by both the men and women around her. This is relative to Judith Butler’s idea of how the post-feminist climate encourages content that facilitates both the doing and undoing of feminism at the same time.