Thursday, Aug 11, 2022 08:45 [IST]

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Music and misogyny: sexist euphemism in Nepali songs

PALZOR BHUTIA

PART-II
The focus on the physical outlook of women and the need to intensify a man’s state of wealth is another theme that most lyrics possess. Women are time and again portrayed as materialistic beings who chase men’s money. So, this reminds me of rap artist from Nepal named Chirag Khadka whose stage name is Pach Pachpanna(5:5) and his song “Ae Budi”, where a guy like always tries to woo his girlfriend, firstly calling her ‘Budi’ (wife) and then brags about fulfilling all of her materialistic desires. In this song, a guy even exhibits his desperateness by saying he is kind of moody guy. And their music as usual tricks the attention of mass. One of his lines from this song reads, “kinidinchu gucci ko bag, lipstick pani Mac…. Salary jati sabai mero timilai garchu kharcha ni” (I am gonna buy you a Gucci bag and Mac lipstick and I will even spend all of my salaries on you). This song resonates that you can woo your girlfriend easily to marry her by exhibiting the wealth that you possess and satisfying the materialistic desires of a woman. Such sexist lyrics has been greatly applauded by the audience with thirty million views in YouTube till date. The effect of normalizing these trendy but sexist song will always be alarming considering the heavily engraved casual relationship between culture of a society and the songs, its time we should rethink about our choices, songs never were and are no more only a way out into the artistic expression but hold a greater significance in the socio-cultural domain.
When we discuss about sexist narratives in Nepali songs, then another very popular genre of “NEPHOP” in Nepali music industry sprouts with objectifying women and other such sexist remark on women. “NEPHOP” is a portmanteau of NEPAL + HIP-HOP = NEPHOP. The genre of NEPHOP is gaining its followers in good number. Samir Ghising “V-TEN” and Ashish Rana “Laure” are some of the most successful names in NEPHOP, but whose songs or raps equally stinks with sexism. Samir Ghising or V-TEN, in 2019 got arrested for his vulgar languages in his songs. His famous song “Hami estai tah honi bro…” (we are like this bro) contains several harsh terms for the police and speaks about smoking marijuana, which is illegal in Nepal.  Samir Ghising have follower all over the world, though his songs spurs with sexist comments and kinesics of women, but people who has been tricked with rhythms since long ago applauded him. Artists’ prime goal is to express their creativity and it’s audience blindly consumes whatever the artists are catering. In my personal opinion, V-ten and some of the so called artists associated with NEPHOP are certainly overrated despite their every words in songs from top to toe sparks with sexist and misogynistic narratives. What made me more disappointed was that such songs are not censored neither there is proper disclaimer claiming its suitability for 18 above. It is utterly disheartening to hear some innocent kids who barely is ten or eleven years old pronouncing his lyrics and enjoying with it. Despite all controversies regarding his arrest and criticism for his song , people still prefers such songs which makes us amused. Another V-ten’s song “Simsime pani ma” (Drizzling Rain) was deleted by YouTube, it violated the norms of YouTube. But one of his fans again uploaded it and has some three million views, it suggests how much we are disguised that have no concern for what artists are serving in the name of “creativity” or for the sake of entertainment, vice-versa. One of the very disgusting lines in this song “simsime pani ma” reads, “ Hami kuna kapcha adhyaro thau ma jau na, tesh pachhi raat bhari mauj, mero boka boka para kasto lagyo ni ho….” Which literally translates, lets go to some dark nook or corner, then we can have fun all over the night, so how you liked my lusty way of behaving? “Boka” is a slang in nepali for a very lustful or pervert and someone who thinks of sex all the time. Boka literally in nepali means a he-goat before castration. So, in this song what artist considers his creativity is all glorifying a young boy who is pervert and very lustful. Another sexist elements in this song is about kinesics or objectifying body movement of women.
“ Nacha baru ma sanga lajauna chodera, hallaudai chaak timro boso le bhareko…” which translates; don’t be shy rather come and dance with me, twerk your butt which is fully of fat. Similarly, many offensive and harsh lines are written by V-ten in this same song, which I have mentioned below.
“Wori pari chaiyo malai ramri ramri nani” (I want all beautiful girls around me)
“Aba laijanchu timilai kadha ma chadai, tespachhi hotel ko khata ma ladai taana malai timi mero haat samai, ani angalo ma badha na malai…” ( Now, I’ll take you on my shoulder then push you on hotel’s bed, you pull me by holding my hand and tie me up within your hugs)
“Aba bhachincha aaja kotha ko khaat” ( I’m gonna break a bed)
“ Aathyauchu kanchi lai chyappa parera, lathyauchu ghati ma lyappa chatera… “ (I’ll make you anxious by tying you up then will make you go crazy while licking your neck)
“ mero photo keti haru beech khosa khos bha, tesaile chicks haru charai tira dami dami chaiyo malai…” (Girls are fighting to get my photos , so I want all those beautiful girls around me.)
So, I ponder, some questions may arise; Is this what we call “creativity” of artist? Is this a face of genre called NEPHOP? RAP usually means rhythm and poetry, so can we consider it to be a poetry? Is this what we should expect and appreciate about NEPHOP?
According to “The Kathmandu Post” where a renowned Professor of Nepal Smt.Bindu Sharma speaking on the influence of offensive songs states, “ I feel very uncomfortable when children as young as ten sings V-ten’s songs easily and recreate his moves without being unperturbed by what they mean.” She also adds, “ These children cannot differentiate for themselves what is right and wrong, and so it’s important to keep engaging in conversations that make people aware about the sensitivity or the various songs that they are listening to.” Sharma further adds, “ Every creator in the art sector need to be well acquainted with gender and queer issues. We have to criticise offensive songs and assess the graver impacts they make on society. We need to understand that art has a greater influence than we think.”
Another famous and one of the most celebrated artist of NEPHOP is Ashish Rana, whose stage name is “Laure”. His songs explodes with rebel against injustices and corruption in his country Nepal, but also fumes with sexism equally. There are many artists associated with NEPHOP or they want to take their genre to some heights and Late. Anil Adhikari, who is known as “Yama Buddha” is mostly regarded as pioneer of NEPHOP. Yama Buddha epitomizes sheer pureness of Rap and sets example that, Rap can be composed without being sexist too. Asish Rana aka Laure’s rap song “Super Raga” reads, “Bottle ko sath ani hotel ko khat , badai najikiney kram ma…” (with bottle and hotel’s bed we are in process of getting closer). “…aile haina bihey pacchi matrai garchu chak chak…” (I will he the naughtiest after getting married). So, you name any, be it V-ten, Laure, Chirag Khadka or any other artists who is trending, their songs always spurs with lust and we get their image of debauchery, because they also tries to normalize alcoholism, marijuana, and drugs. And they always somehow shows how ‘cool’ it is to woo or impress women after being intoxicated.
With the introduction of western genres like hip-hop and Rap in our Nepali music industry (though we, Indian-Nepali and Nepalese are geographically and politically divided but we do share language, literature, culture and so on). In this industry we have witnessed vulgarity and sexism in our songs. Artists these days are seen composing and creating many vulgar lyrics and songs. They have been imitating the western culture blindly where raunchy lyrics are considered normal. Nepali music industry launches so many artists in a year with their songs and rap music, but what I observed is their prior focus in on composing songs which holds vulgar meanings. The audiences of such so called ‘trendy’ songs are mostly young generations. What these artists perceived is that they would gain fame overnight being ‘viral’ if they composed something unorthodox. But such artists who has a huge responsibility to influence a mass should also think about the audiences and the message that they are giving through their songs. From objectifying women to singing about intoxication, Nepali rappers are disseminating a negative message, which better be avoided. The sole purpose of music is to entertain and sooth, but it can also be as eloquent weapon to give a positive message to society. Using music for cheap popularity by promoting sex and toxicities, doesn’t serve the purpose.
Here , I don’t intend to blame all the artists merely, but the sources of all these songs and music are the deep-rooted ‘patriarchy’ that is within our Nepali community and society from time immemorial. One basic reason why young generation is not concerned with what kind of lyrics are being written is mainly these days people of my generation rarely keeps interest in learning our own language and literature. With utter shame and disgrace they consider their own languages as inferior to some other. Today, I take this manuscript also as an opportunity to covey a message by quoting Ngugi Wa Thiong’s famous quote, “If you know all the languages of the world and you don’t know your mother tongue or the language of your culture, that is enslavement. But if you know your mother tongue or the language of your culture, and add all the other languages of the world to it, that is empowerment.”
I think I derailed myself from the context I was actually discussing, but the constant creation of sexism in songs could be due to the boundary that we erected between our mother tongue and English or any other language mainly.
To conclude, I would state that, it is crucial to change the condition under which songs are created. The materialistic interest of the artist to serve hardcore songs that gives them enough money along with fame, which is a troublesome element that is spreading like a flu. The sexist narratives in every sentences which comes from toxic masculinity should be questioned, criticized and condemned too. The artist itself has a vital role in it. We need to raise our voice and call out those songs that run on misogynistic and sexist proposition. We should also unlearn our own minimal habit of letting things be it in the name of ‘ its just a song ' or ' it’s solely for entertainment purposes'. WomenUp Creatives in their blog writes, “It is not just a song! Our culture are these songs. These songs forms our culture. We cannot afford to engulf with a huge appetite and let young girls and women internalizes, stereotypes and objectification. We can clearly not afford this point when so many efforts are being put towards the empowerment of women.”
CONCLUDED
References:
Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.
The Kathamandu Post/ Nepali Songs blurring sexism and entertainment.
https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/580815
https://theannapurnaexpress.com/news/a-new-nepali-genre-of-music-called-cringe-folk-80
https://www.holidify.com/pages/music-of-nepal-2113.html
https://english.khabarhub.com/2019/05/30148/
https://thewalrus.ca/when-sexism-makes-for-a-catchy-song/
https://www.himalmag.com/what-is-nepali-music-1993/
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0255761418771094
(The views expressed are those of the author. Palzor Bhutia is a former Post-graduate student of English literature from Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan. He belong to small village named Gitdabling in the district of Kalimpong, West Bengal. He did his schooling from St. Joseph’s School, Gitdabling and Kumudini Homes Higher Secondary School, Kalimpong. He graduated with English Honours from Kalimpong College, under University of North Bengal. Currently he is pursuing B.ed degree from West Bengal University of Teachers' Training, Education planning and Administration. Email: palzorbhutia70@gmail.com)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi