Brown twitter was ablaze this past week because of a new song from Simiran Kaur Dhadli called “Lahu Di Awaaz'.' The track was released on YouTube along with a video on September 12, 2021. In less than a week, it had amassed over 2.7 million views.
Many are calling the song extremely problematic, embedded with internalized misogyny and sexism, while others are actually coming to its defence and calling Dhadli brave for calling out “pseudo-feminists'', and depicting a “reality that people don’t want to face.”
There’s no doubt that this song has stirred up a lot of controversy, and everyone seems to have an opinion about it. And there certainly is a lot to unpack.
The song starts off with Dhadli describing a dream she had in which modestly dressed women are trying to tell her something that she cannot understand.
Dhadli says that these women are “respectable,” because she watches them avert their gaze and quiet down when their brothers walk by.
She further explains that these women don’t talk back to their father, but listen to him as he scolds them for not coming home before dark. The lyrics are paired with black and white photos of women dressed in modest Punjabi suits and scarves.
Then she “wakes up,” and the video shifts to show “today’s world” through an Instagram feed that depicts scantily clad women, and the lyrics shift to criticize these women in comparison to those in her dream.
She says, “I woke up and looked around to find the beautiful simplicity I saw in my dreams to be lost.”
She further states that “simplicity (or modesty) has become the dirt beneath today’s women’s feet.” She also prays to God wondering what has happened to today’s world.
Her lyrics further state, “I truly feel that today’s women have lost their minds because they are getting undressed/naked for money and fame,” while the video depicts social media photos and videos of various women with their faces blurred, who in Dhadli’s opinion are not “modest” nor “respectable” because of the way they’re dressed.
She calls today’s world “Kalyug” which means “the age of darkness” insinuating that a moral apocalypse is underway.
Many have also criticized Dhadli for not asking for consent for the videos and pictures used in her music video, adding that simply blurring their faces is not enough.
In the song, Dhadli further says that “all these so-called feminists should come and talk to me, or better yet they should die for selling their bodies,” which is arguably the most controversial part of the song.
She then shows a montage of herself appearing strong and powerful, with lyrics to match that sentiment. She suggests that because she dresses modestly, therefore she respects herself, her family, and community, insinuating that women who don’t dress like her (in Punjabi suits) do not.
Dhadli ends the video paying homage to iconic Sikh women and showing photos/depictions of Mata Bhag Kaur, Bibi Bhani, Bibi Manjeet Kaur, Bibi Anup Kaur, Bibi Susheel Kaur, Bibi Daler Kaur, Bibi Surinder Kaur, Mata Jito Ji, and Bibi Parmjit Kaur, as a comparison of “better” women than the ones whose social media videos she showed earlier.
Amidst the controversy, Simiran Kaur Dhadli’s instagram account was deactivated, which was the only platform she was active on, and she has kept a low profile.
There’s a few people suggesting that making such a controversial song was a smart move on Dhadli’s part because it has given her a lot of press, and views; as the cliché goes: even bad press is good press.
It’s no surprise that this song is coloured in controversy, and many people from both sides took to Twitter to share their opinions.
It can be argued that Dhadli’s intentions might have been noble, but her execution definitely fell short.
While she has the right to use her art to facilitate a message as many singer/songwriters have done in the past, it is also her responsibility to do her due diligence, and educate herself on the issues she’s writing about before blindly jumping into the role of moral or culture police.
She’s quick to blame the rise of feminism and “today’s women” for the oversexualization of women without once addressing the predominantly male audience that is creating the demand for such accounts in the first place.
She also fails to call out her own male peers in the Punjabi music industry, who often feature scantily clad women in their music videos and suggestively dance with them. Ironically, some of these same men, including Yo Yo Honey Singh in a now-deleted Instagram story, have praised Dhadli’s song on their social media platforms.
Dhadli is just another name added to the list of people who have tried to blame women’s liberation for being the cause behind society’s problems, instead of the men who are perpetuating these problems.
She hasn’t accomplished much with the song besides putting her own internalized misogyny on display while giving rape apologists and misogynists an anthem they can get behind.
About the author: Gurshabad’s educational background in Biology and Psychology is inspired by her lifelong pursuit to seek and decipher the human connection. She loves McDonald’s fries, long walks on the beach, and telling people how to correctly pronounce her name. She regularly forces her friends to sit in her car & record a podcast aptly named Sitting In The Car. You can find her but more importantly her dog, @gurshabadkang on all platforms.