Gender Issue in Bend It Like Beckham

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Exploration of Race and Gender Identity in the Movie ‘Bend it Like Beckham’

SCL 4110 - Gender and Culture Research Paper
Zairen Tasnin
11 April 2013
Word Count: 1,754

Gurinder Chadha is a British filmmaker who wrote, directed and produced the movie Bend it Like Beckham (G. Rings). The movie was premiered in the United States in 2003 and it had won praise from both critics and moviegoers for its accurate representations of the Asian culture (G. Rings) and initiating the topic for investigating a cross cultural study. Bend it like Beckham shows the socializing of the Punjabi Sikh families and the British English societies. It also stages the battle of a young teenage to breakdown the stereotypes placed upon her by her family (M.A. Chacko). Throughout the movie the audience is familiarized with the topics of feminists’ racism, sexism, religion, discrimination and stereotypes. The cultural identity can be defined as our sense of belonging to a particular cultural or ethnic group (M.A. Chacko). Bend it Like Beckham the audience to spectacle Jesminder 's battle to discover her own cultural identity by exploring the main themes of religion, race, and gender.

The main emphasis of this film is on the main character, Jesminder Bhamra (Jess), who is an 18 year old British Indian Sikh teenage girl (G. Rings). She comes from a traditional Indian Sikh family and her aspiration and desire to play football, however due to cultural and traditional conflict, the concept of her playing football is at odds with her familial promises (A. Ratna). In the movie, Jess must decide if she is keen to follow an aspiration of playing football or is she going to respect her parents’ wishes for her to attend University, get married to a ‘nice Indian boy’ and also not break the traditional stereotypical boundaries of her Sikh culture of being woman. However her life is flipped upside down when she meets an English girl named Juliette Paxton (Jules). Like Jess, Jules also appears to be struggling to escape the stereotypical view of how a young woman should behave and her mother implements these mind-sets (A. Ratna). Jules encourages Jess to join local female football team. While playing football, they arise to apprehend their struggles to be overwhelmed by the traditional values of their parents and play football that is ensued for both girls to be their desire and passion.

Jess and Jules are seen as tomboys due to their clothing and their ability and interest in playing football. Unlike other girls their age, who are interested in dating boys, they are more concentrated on pursuing a career in football. The conflict between the fundamentally Western values of freedom of choice, personal achievement and self-development and the Asian values of loyalty and obedience to the family (Taylor &Francis Group) and the restricted familial view of women's' roles is broadly investigated in Bend it like Beckham (G. Rings). This conflict between Indian cultures and the Western is explored as Jess goes to live her life by comprising together both cultures (G. Rings). Bend it Like Beckham challenges to allocate with the prejudice by both the cultures as the film centres on cultural abuse on the football pitch, opposing to have mixed marriages, the offensive sexual comments of boys watching the girls play football, and the conception in both cultures that football is not meant for women (A. Ratna) as it is a masculine sport.

The movie focuses on race as a significant subject, as in the Indian culture there is the concept caste system, which is a societal grouping and distinction (M.A Chacko) in the Hindu Indian community. The system is partially based on the discrimination towards skin color in which evident advantages are given to people with lighter skin. For instance in the movie, one reason why Jess's mother did not want her to play on the football team was because...
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