Friday, August 19, 2005

Well. so what!

The government of Maharashtra has banned dance bars all over the state, including those in Mumbai. Furthermore it will not even allow the erstwhile dancers to work as waitresses in these bars. For those who are wondering what might these dance bars be, are they some kind of coked up version of Twinkies? Well, these are seedy little pubs sorta places, where men come to have a drink and to ogle at young girls dressed in shimmery lehanga-cholis (full ankle length and small blousons) and saris and garish make-up. These lolitas in ghoulish makeup dance to the latest bollywood numbers in a fashion that seems to me a cross between the bollywood dance style, the head-banging seen at darghas and the kind of neither-here-nor-there style of dancing at weddings. These places are not very expensive compared to the more high-end pubs, discos and lounges and their patrons tip the dancers.The dance bars were initially banned in Mumbai as the government felt it was downgrading the moral fiber of its citizenry.
Post August 15 the ban was extended to cover the entire state. The men who visit there seem to be all adults. If the government claims that it has done so because the dancing is only a cover for prostitution then also it doesn’t make sense. There are plenty of prostitutes working otherwise and maybe they could have tightened the laws and made it incumbent upon the owners to guarantee that no prostitution or solicitation was undertaken by its employees.I am even told that most of these dance bars were run with the blessings of the local policemen and politicos. The union of dance bars has decided to move court and fight the ban order. I hope they win. This hypocrisy on part of our government is sickening to me.
I might add here that these women are more modestly dressed than the ‘item-girls’ when they do their ‘item’ dance numbers, the recent trend in Indian movies. These actress-dancers are later invited to perform at various events and functions attended by politicians as chief guests. Its not much different from ‘nautanki’ though much more tastefully done and with higher production values. How can they then have the cheek to shut the dance bars, the trickle-down versions?
Although I may not agree with the taste and preference of the people who enjoy these performances, I fully support their right to their kind of entertainment. I am not claiming that these women get a good deal in such places, most probably they get a very raw deal and do it only because of lack of other viable options but how are we making it better for them by taking away their livelihood, by making them desperate?


gulnaz said...

Santanu wrote:Though I have never been to Mumbai, I believe I have seen something quite similar in Bangalore. I would beg to differ on the description provided by you, at least in the particular joint I was taken to. However, what is more important here is the sudden moral awakening of the government and the implication on those involved. This is quite similar to the plight of hand Rickshaw pullers in Kolkata. But we won't hear much about them as they lack the 'glitter' of Mumbai dance bars. Also, I believe the commercial implications are less.

Nice theme for a blogpage. Keep it up!

gulnaz said...

i have deleted the other blog, and reposted the sole entry and the comment here as everytime i'd open the blogpage, i'd get quite a few pop-ups and its easier posting on one blog for me.

Samudraa said...

where have u been?@ And a diff post this time?

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Ammie said...

But what will happen to the poor girls with no way to support themselves?

It sounds to me like the authorities are shooting themselves in the foot.

The ladies will be forced to work illegally and without the protection that these clubs can offer them. They may not have any other options than prostitution or begging.

The Social Policies need to be addressed in a balanced and logical manner.

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Rat said...

Your absolutely right . Everyone is entitled to thier own form of entertainments. What will they stop next ? Plays because they use bad language !!

gulnaz said...

damn these anon spammers, may they rot in a dark movie hall with no popcorns and a thousand rats!!

Santanu- i have not been to these places, what i know is second-hand from the media.
they maybe better or worse but its totally against my idea of justice to ban them.

Samudraa- i'm sort of depressed lately. :( anyway, i hope you like the difference
in the posts, do you?

Amie- the authorities are adept at shooting themselves in the foot, my dear! :)
it will all go underground, i.e, illegal and then it will really be prostitution. i had heard that the taliban banned women from working and that had forced them into begging and prostitution.

thanks for leaving a comment ! :) i hope you visit this space again. :)


Rat- lol, perhaps they should ban news, as its shows us dear children of the state such terrible things! :)

Anil said...

hmm...there are many ways to look at this...making gutka/cigarettes is form of employment but it kills people in the long is it right to ban the gutka/cigarette industry?

on the other hand these dance-bars continue to promote the idea that a woman is an object to be lusted after, in a male-dominated society like India this fosters the idea that women are cheap objects of lust whose beauty or 'love' can be 'bought' or at least dispalyed at the market woudn't it be good if such places were banned even though the action of the govt. reeks of hypocrisy?

then again I know many men who judge women just by the way they dress...if she is a little modern and wears so-called revealing clothes then she is labeled as easy or ultimately I guess it is the men who need to be educated about the respect a woman deserves and the place she has in society...if banning the dance bars helps in this regard then I'm all for it...but as you said a hypocritical action made for perhaps other ulterior motives will not help...

I think I'm going arnd in I'll stop here...please excuse if I did not make any sense!

Patry Francis said...

Interesting post! And interesting comments as well (except for the infernal spammers.) I see both sides of the issue--the side you articulate so well, and the other side, which Anil expresses with equal verve. I guess it's a good thing I'm not passing any laws. They'd vacilate by the day!

Khakra said...

A little cross post-- the naach bars are somewhat a modernization of mujhra. People sought difference in the past, they seek something different today. Then it just had a little more class, now it doesn't at all.

venus said...

I would differ a bit in this matter. If the motive behind govt's decision is to stop women being objects of entertainment, I totally agree with her. Dance bar is a legalization of sex bar in a way. prostitution is a different question, they don't have a legal place or legal organization running it, that's why they can not stop it. If they allow dance bars today, tomorrow, they will come up have s-clubs. If there is no such nuisance exists, why introduce it? what you talk about- item-dance, is still under cultural theme, people go there to watch cultural program. where in a dance bar, the sole purpose of a person going there is to watch sexuality. That is why I would welcome govt's decision.

Joel said...

Scratching my head here. Sounds a lot like our own Fundamentalists.

I am sure that government officials would love a junket to Los Angeles where we have "gentleman's clubs" that feature live nude women. One of them had a sign painted on its exterior wall saying "Vagina's R Us."

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KJ said...

i think that the govt shud be paying attention to the infrastructure probs in bombay rather than making the lives of the poor girls miserable.


Misreflection said...

Gs , this is such a major debate I could write a little book here but won't, ;-) just to say my view is not to ban ..My reasons are plenty but I'm holding back from expressing them. Good topic.

zhoen said...

Stopping the objectification of women by attacking the poorest in unskilled jobs is simply hypocrisy. I kept thinking about the Hefner 's Bunny clubs here in the states, all now closed, not due to regulation, but disinterest and societal change. (Not that sexism is dead here.)Dance bars are a symptom, not a cause. But poor women are an easy target for moralists, since they can little defend themselves.

timeintotime said...

I’m interested in Anil’s point about the possible repercussions of the work we do to fill our coffers. Poor, scantily clad girls dancing for money in a bar in Mumbai might then be seen structurally. The modern world likes it both ways: likes to have freedom; likes a clean conscience. Very often the two just aren’t reconcilable. There’s a looking glass perspective here as well: we all like to be treated fairly; but most of us simply don’t have the mental stamina to take on all the unfairness of others’ situations. So, while globalisation spreads its myriad tentacles in every direction, morality remains fairly localised. I won’t comment on legislation – people living in Mumbai know the situation, its background and the current climate far better than I do. The issue of the male spectators is one of education. At one extreme is Peter Stringfellow; at the other, Laura Mulvey. Ultimately, men pay to watch because they can. At the root, there is a moral question. Is it right that they can and right that they do? Each of us knows the answer. It’s our own answer. It’s an answer that might not be the same today as it will be next week or three years from now. It might change just before we exhale out last breath. The real problem is fickleness. As to the solution…insight? Here’s a thought: the person who strikes me as having been the least fickle individual in India’s history is Ghandi. I wonder what he’d have made of the dancing girls.

gulnaz said...

Anil- guns kill, so do bad doctors and bad governments but we can't ban those either. i did not mean to make an absolutist point, all issues have to be debated on their individual merit/demerit.
the idea of woman as a sex object is projected by the films, ads, beauty pagents, marriage adverts, these dance bars are not alone in doing so. look at a debeers ad and tell me if it doesnt promote the idea that 'love' cannot be 'bought' :) ( am in a really cynical mood tonigt, so apologies anil ;))
its not only men, even women regard the westernised woman as
'easy' but that bit is fast changing but the point is the women shown in the dance bars are not in cabaret kind of clothes but the kind of clothes women wear to weddings. :)

Patry- lol, i think you'd pass very compassionate edicts from what i read at your blogs. :)

Khakra- absolutely :) and hey welcome aboard. :)

Venus- sex sells period. the garb is different at different times, that's all. the govt. does not care about those women. as for those working as prostitutes, their condition is abominable and we in india should really sit up and bother about them, if we are serious about tackling aids.

Joel- lol. :) gentleman's clubs sounds like a euphemism but a nice one. lala land definitely sounds like an experience. a freind ( a female) of mine went to see a peep show in london, she had to pay a few pounds for a few min and her husband, poor guy did not even step into that lane. :)
One can't be cruel to people who are as it is not having it good, that is my basic point. :)

Tomas- i'm glad you stumbled here, will add you to my links to. thanks a lot for your praise, keep coming by with some often. :)

KJ- aye! aye!!! especially in lieu of the recent tragedy. it really amazes one that they even think about such trifles when they have such momentous problems to think about.

Missy- thanks, don't hold back next time. :) i always enjoy reading your feedback.

zhoenw- my point absolutely!! thanks and welcome, hope you come by again. :)

timeontime- thanks for your eloquently argued postition, i don't think i can add to it, without repeating! just wanted to add though that anil, was merely trying to present 'the other side' :)

Sue hardy-Dawson said...

I agree with you Gulnaz, there are far worse things going on in higher places where you can do what you like if you have enough money and people are still exploited. Banning things doesn't stop them it symply makes them go underground and gives the victims of exploitation less protection because they're acting illeagaly and have no rights at all.

finnegan said...

Well isn't this a shift of gears and a fresh new take! You seem to have thrown a match on some interesting kindling.

Altruistic notions about "progress" don't seem to coexist very well with what men or women deem sexually attractive.
Lust can never be contained through legislation. It's no different from love. The tricky thing is the private sphere of desire
vs. what line society chooses to tow. When lust cannot exist above ground it simply establishes itself under the radar.
Not a good exchange, judging what we already know.

I'd have to agree with Zhoenw. It's always the poor who pay the biggest price no matter which way the wind blows.
Blaming the already victimized in order to allow sanctimonious politicians to wash their own (usually smutty) hands
is no saving grace.

This convoluted diatribe is, thankfully ended.

gulnaz said...

Sue- Yes it makes everything much worse, its a cure worse than the disease.

finn- Well, i thought why not write about such stuff too though my knowledge of politics and such 'big matters' is not much.

the kindling is definitely interesting and there is nothing convuluted about your diatribe either. :)

the cowlick said...

I guess the government believes that if it closes its eyes and the eyes of the rest of the country, all the evils in the world will disappear and everyone will be pure and virginal again. Can't cure the disease? Just kill the symptoms.

gulnaz said...

cowlick- that is surely a fine of 'see no evil'. :) thanks for coming by, please do visit again. :)

Fakhr said...

I admire your blog and respect your views
I will disagree with you on this one as women should never favor to sell there bodies, this is the oldest business in the world and any step to end this should be welcome. If one door get closed, god opens thousands doors
Embrace hope, one should never forget what is ethical and what is not and the level that is accepted in the society, the advertisements that also show women as sex objects in my view are acceptable but those nach clubs are not.

Geetanjali said...

Hear hear! Good post Gulnaz....

Pallavi said...

Hmmm yeah first its the society that propogates it and then its the society that breaks it... go figure ...

Aleksu said...

If dance is all they do and they are taking that away from them, they may very well be pushing the to prostitute themselves.

Nothing worst that politicians with double standards.

gulnaz said...

Fakhr- well you have a right to your opinion, that's all i can say.

Geetanjali- thanks! :)

Pallavi- reeks of hypocrisy!

Aleksu- multi-party democrazy with double-standard politicans, way to go! :))