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How historic is having an Indian woman in Playboy?


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So recently iconic men’s magazine Playboy announced that the cover of their November issue will be graced by Bollywood actress Sherlyn Chopra. Never heard of her? Don’t worry, you are not alone - in fact before this news spread even some of the people of India didn’t know who she was.

Playboy, who have faced tough times over the past few years thanks to the ever growing popularity of free internet pornography, have branded Chopra as a "Bollywood Legend" stating that her cover on their magazine will be historic.

As expected the western media have run with this nonsense, praising Chopra for her act of bravery due to the fact that Playboy and publications like it are banned in her native country, a nation whose ideology is heavily influenced by religion and patriarchy. As expected the Indian media aren’t so thrilled about Chopra’s nudity and do not want to be affiliated with it.

"At a time when innocent women across the nation from Gujarat to Guwahati have been subjected to sexual abuse and humiliation, one wonders if Sherlyn Chopra's pictures wound a woman's integrity," writes blogger Gayatri Sankar.

Normally I would be all for freedom of expression and people fighting to break the oppression that has been thrust upon them and their people by their society but I can’t help but question Chopra’s motives for this.

It sounds to me that in this case, Chopra is not only exploiting her race, she is exploiting the woes of her nation in order to create a career for herself, and Playboy are more than happy to oblige if this ‘historic moment’ if it will shift magazines.

As mentioned, before gracing the cover of Playboy, no one knew who Chopra was - including Playboy. She approached them in writing expressing her desperation to be featured in the men’s mag.

The reason why no one knew or cared about who she was is because to date, she was nothing but a B-list actress who had been using her sex appeal to try to forge a lucrative career in the media for herself and until her Playboy cover and spread, her attempts have been somewhat futile.

According to Jezebel, the Hindustan Times describes her career as consisting of "blink-and-miss performance in about ten films."

Why then is such a woman branded as a legend? Looking back in history, the title "legend" is awarded to those who have achieved or accomplished greatness in their profession or in life but according to Chopra her Playboy cover is an “international accomplishment”.

"It is not an easy task to be nude in front of the camera and look good at the same time," she says. While this may be true, I can think of about a thousand things that are a lot harder than posing nude for Playboy.

Let’s face it, at the end of the day all she is doing is taking her clothes off. She is basically giving permission for her body to be used as masturbatory material, and despite the ill support she has gotten from India and critics, she has every right to do whatever she likes to and with her body.

That being said, she has no right to claim that her actions will have any effect or inspire a postive change in Indian's opposition to nudity, because we all know that it will not.

This is not about liberating or challenging India’s views or helping to bring awareness to anything, this quite simply is a publicity stunt, one that has clearly proved successful because in the space of a few days, this B-list Bollywood wannabe is now internationally known.

As she said, “I have become the first Indian to pose naked for Playboy and nobody can take away that achievement from me.”

Chopra is right; no one can take that away from her, but let’s not forget that only a few days ago, another historical moment was written in the history books. Sarah Attar made history and inspired her nation and the world by becoming the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the Olympic track and field.

For her achievement, despite finishing in last place she received a standing ovation from the crowd. "This is such a huge honour and an amazing experience, just to be representing the women," said Attar after her race.

For Attar, the principle of her actions was far greater than whether or not she won the race. She was just glad to have been chosen to represent the women of her country, who have been grossly  unrepresented for generations. It wasn't about fame or self-promotion; the same can unfortunately not be said about Chopra.

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