Dhanya Exhuthachan writes in her article titled “ACCEPTANCE OF FEMALE JOURNALISTS IN KERALA” Kerala’s own “City Journal”, how woman journalist are not accepted as bride in Kerala. Malayalees do not prefer to send their daughter to work as a journalist and that most of the woman journalists are exploited by their male counterparts to receive pay hike, promotion, etc :
THERE are many girls among us who wish to be a Barkha Dutt or Leela Menon when they grow up. Most of the times, those dreams are shattered due to contradictory circumstances. Female journalists are aplenty in Kerala; definitely majority of them are more talented and sharp than their male counterparts. Still, Malayalees are yet to prefer journalism as a career for girls. It is a fact that most of the female journalists reach for the work overcoming disagreements even from their parents and husbands. Parents cannot be blamed as they are concerned about the safety of their girls as journalism is about taking risks and challenges. But it’s really ironical that even boys here do not prefer to marry a working journalist!
Arun Menon, a mechanical engineer says, “I cannot accept my wife going for reporting. I do not blame their profession. Of course, it’s a cool one. But it will not be nice if my wife goes out of house at midnight. I know it’s a part of their job. They should be present if something happens. I respect that. But even if I accept, my parents will not be. They are old people. We cannot change them. So I prefer a job for her in which she can go in morning and come back by evening.”
As journalism became a profession, women were restricted by custom and law from access to journalism occupations, and faced significant discrimination within the profession. Nevertheless, women operated as editors, reporters, sports analyst and journalists even before the 1890s.
In several places now women can no longer be ignored and also the old tradition of keeping women out of the workplace has been set aside by the younger generation of newspaper owners. This has happened in Malayala Manorama. Fifteen years ago, women were not allowed to write the entrance test for recruitment to Malayala Manorama. In those days, even receptionists in the organisation were men. Today there are women in almost all departments, the change brought by the second generation owners and their spouses.
A male news reporter in the city says, “Its true people have started to accept female reporters. But still there is a concept among public that female journalists are bad. It’s common people pull a long face if they find any girl on the road after 7pm. Moral policing is very high in Kerala society. Now the newspapers and channels provide cabs for security of female reporters. But those who travel in bus or train at night have to suffer the male gazing even if they are journalists. Boys think female reporters are daredevils and they will command everything if they marry them. Lack of feminine look is another problem in their eyes. It’s true as part of the profession, the reporters adopt dress styles similar to men and go for short hairs. The society is yet to change. There is no doubt that females are excellent in reporting and finding things. They stay a step above us always. But they have many limitations.”
Some have the opinion that male domination is very high in media field. As being a ‘Pennu (Woman)’ in their language, most of the times, the girls have to face several harassments from workplace. 90% of the female journalists here come across a situation in which their male seniors demand their body to get a salary hike or promotion. Some girls obey that demand thinking of a better payment and position, some leave the job and majority suffer without saying all these things to others. Maybe, all these exploitation also stop parents and boys not to prefer female journalists.
National Commission for Women had conducted a project on the ‘Status of Women Journalists in the Print Media’ to look into the issues affecting the role of women working in media. The project was prepared conducting survey of women journalists all over India.
A section of the project says, the biggest burden on women in journalism is their domestic responsibilities as wife, mother and daughter-in-law. The brightest and most successful journalists have left a bright career to settle down in matrimony or have moved to less demanding jobs when children arrive. For women, almost invariably, the home comes first.
AT Jayanti editor of Deccan Chronicle, believes that “As home is always a woman’s responsibility, it naturally affects her work. I have no problem with any girl until she marries,” she says.
Findings of the projects also include that sexual harassment is part of work culture in media organisations in India but women either do not know how or, for a wide variety of reasons, choose not to do anything about it. Only 15.2 per cent of women who experienced sexual harassment had made a formal complaint. 10.8 per cent of those who did not make a formal complaint did not do so for fear of intimidation, victimisation or losing their job. A significant number (40.2 per cent) did not complain because they felt sexual harassment is not taken seriously in their workplace or that their complaint would seem trivial or over-reacting.
A senior Malayalam journalist, who spoke to the Commission on the harassment of women both sexually and professionally, put it briefly: “A woman works alone and suffers alone. She finds no support either at home or at office. Men on the other hand, when faced with allegations, close ranks and stand by their colleagues.”
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