She can’t do sexy – and that’s super cool!

Sofia Ashraf’s catchy tracks are a welcome relief from the overdose of sexiness in entertainment

After Sheila, Laila, Mary, and the occasional Zandu balm user, I think we’re well past the point where we stop expecting anything realistic relating to the human female form, and its purpose, from Indian mainstream media. But look at other avenues and you might find respite. Meet Sofia Ashraf – musician, content creator , and a producer with Culture Machine’s digital channel, ‘Blush’ – whose insanely catchy track “I can’t do sexy” (released on Blush itself) points out how ridiculous expectations from women have become, and doing so with a heavy seasoning of  humour!

Sofia answers the questions her song has got people asking –

1. What made you write this song?

This song is a comical self-deprecatory piece born after years of constipated selfies and twerking fails. The sari line was actually born from a real-life incident. I once made great friends with a gaggle of lovely, young girls. One day they said “Akka, you always wear jeans. We want to see you in a sari.” I happened to have a sari in my bag so I went out and draped it and came back excited to show the girls my transformation. They stared at me in silence for a bit and then one girl said, “Akka, you look nice in jeans.”

2. Did you intend it to be a sort of a commentary on social issues as it is being made out to be?

We began Sista from The South on Culture Machine’s digital Channel Blush as a way to either start a dialogue, question norms or at the very least (yet most important to me) make women stop hating and blaming themselves for ridiculous reasons – the way I did for most of my life. Of course, not all our videos will manage to do this. Some videos will just be funny or silly for the sake of it, because hey – women like jokes too. But, some videos – like this one – manage to strike a balance. Yes, it is a silly and fun song meant to make women go “Oh, that’s so me. Finally someone said it!”, while at the same time pressing forward the underlying message of owning your body.

3. Does comedy help put across a message of body positivity? What is your take this?

Yes. I believe it is a great tool to break the ice and be heard. But, having said that, I don’t think it is the ONLY way a message needs to be put forward. I believe art, music, poetry, hard-core statistsics, articles, movies – anything qualifies as a great way to put across a message. Too often I hear people tell me “I wish other feminists would take a softer approach like you.” To them, I say: Don’t discount our anger. Don’t suppress passion. Nobody should be forced to sweeten a message in order to make it palatable to the audience.

I love using comedy because it comes naturally to me and that’s all.

4. Personally do you see people embracing the idea that being sexy shouldn’t be the only priority in life?

I’d like to take a moment to explain one thing about my stance that could be misinterpreted otherwise. I’m not anti-sexy. I have a lot of sexy friends who I love, respect and even idolise. I don’t think owning your sexuality is a bad thing. Saying I can’t do sexy is like saying I can’t do math. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-calculus.

Also, I doubt if any woman believes that being sexy is her only priority in life. It may come as a surprise to most that women care about more than push-up bras and stilettoes.

But, while being sexy isn’t our only priority, there is a certain pressure on us to force ourselves into a mould. There are a number of young women out there who fall prey to this pressure as they don’t see any women in the mainstream who aren’t sexy.

This video is to lighten that pressure and show that a flipside exists

5. What is your next project going to be about and when will it release?

The next video is going to be about Menstruation and it will release around World Menstrual Hygiene Day.

6. Did you see “I can’t do sexy” going viral when you made it? 

I don’t think the song can be called “viral” yet. Once I heard the kickass track that Prashant Techno created, I did expect the song to be stuck in a few heads and in that, we have been successful. My friends hate me because every time someone says the word sexy, we invariably end up singing “Aiiiii can’t do sexyyyyyyy.” Hahaha!

-by Zaiceka Ahmed

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