Portrayal of Women in Indian Media

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Image of women in Indian television has so far been portrayed in a wrong manner and in most of cases this portrayals are unrealistic. Whether it is advertisement of cigarette like “Wills”, in which a half-dressed woman with her male counterpart is seeing enjoying the charm of smoking or a soft drink act like “Frooti”, where a woman is quenching her thrust in a semi-nude dress in a swimming pool are basically the projection of distorted image of woman. It is a fact that in an oriental society like India which is at the same time very patriarchal, the audiences preferably see a woman more as an object of sensation and in other term the media person intent to project them as the object in order to promote any product or service. The whole thing of objectification of women started from a very base level, as example in a shop or office there is always woman as shopkeeper or representative or receptionist respectively and the cause of this is to attract customers or consumer or clients, this is a truth but harsh.


Advertisement of a leading Indian youth fashion brand which created controversy for using the girl in the advertisement as “sex-object” by showing nudity and her outfit with the word in it “sale” as she is the product. The whole thing appears in such a way that the girl is for sale and it is disturbing.


In most of cases in television advertisements only the sexual signification of a female is being exploited in order to attract the viewers. The simple reason of it is that the obscene portrayal of woman helps in advertisement to pursue the target audience in favor of a respective product or service. Advertisements like “Slice” (Soft Drink), many types of Deodorant, Body Spray like “Engage” , “Axe”, “Wild Stone” and men inner garments we can see a lusty and vulgar woman character which is not at all necessary to portray in this kind of advertisements of male products. In many two wheeler and four wheeler advertisements and an advertisement of E-commerce website of second hand products portrays a kind of greedy and self-centered woman character, which makes a very bad impression to the society.

daily soap

Typical “perfect” housewives of an Indian daily soap with heavy ornamentation and household responsibilities.

Apart from advertisements a typical trend of TV has been observed specially in entertainment programs and soap operas that women are constantly portrayed as over glamorous characters and are presented with over ornamentation either or they are presented as the cautioned which can only look after the internal aspects of their families. Actually this is the portrayal of women in Indian media.

The major question is does a woman appear in reality only as a sexual object or someone who can only have the potential to take care of household? Unfortunately Indian television has picked up some surface level significance from society and it is been continuously reinforcing those images.




The first major step towards giving communication top priority to provide enough guidelines for media planning specially for women’s development was drawn up in 1976 under “The National Plan of Action for Woman”. The plan recommended that Indian mass media should focus on woman education, extension education and innovative use of non-formal learning facilities for rural woman. The 6th 5 Year Plan precisely incorporated a full chapter on Woman and Development. As it mentioned – “Despite development measures and the constitutional legal guarantees, woman of India have lagged behind men in almost all sectors”. Yes these words were written on that document. The plan pointed out certain issues like high illiteracy among women, repeated pregnancy, deterioration of women’s health, failure to give social justice to women etc.

The planning commission requested Indian mass media to come upfront in order to promote this issue in a constructive manner but Indian mass media can be criticized especially television channels that for “Doordarshan”, it ignored the women issues although initially it took some efforts and the entry of private channels had kept on projecting the distorted image of women.

Once the former Prime Minister of India, P. V. Narasimha Rao was asked a question about the role of woman in society and he replied “They are our mother, our nurturer and protectors.” Now by many feminist activists the answer was criticized by considering it absolutely patriarchal. The activists to explain their statements had submitted some statistics.

woman harvesting

Statistics revealed that, Indian agriculture accounts 32% of the net  national product,  about  70%  of the total working population and 84% of all  economically active women are  involved in  agriculture and 46% of total  populations of India who are woman are involved in  other working  fields. Extent  woman participation in farming has been researched and the  findings revealed  that on an average a woman spends 8.2 hours each day in a farmland  (1984),    on an average  a woman devoted 13 days as against 9.94 days devoted by men  during the time of cultivation.  They raised a question if it is so then how and why  our country  can consider woman only as  mother or nurturer or protector. So the  saying of “Farmer  Brothers” is totally wrong, the women  are there also in the core structure to run any  country.

Mass media always in any society is related with its socio-economic and political system. So it  does reflect the society and hence it should be responsible towards it. Television being an  audio-visual mass media leaves maximum impact on viewers than other mass media. So, it is  expected that with the flow of modernization television in India should change their approach in  case of portraying the image of woman.

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