Turns out that a company makes unisex washing machines, which aims to tempt men into taking up household chores. The use of word unisex, to sell a home appliance, which washes clothes might have seemed like a good idea to the company’s marketing team. However, it only does a disservice to the idea of gender equality, by simply assuming that either men do not know how to operate ‘regular’ washing machines or they don’t want to. Hence, they need a fortified machine to motivate them to share the load.
Twitter has been musing about the existence of unisex washing machines since long
The existence of this bizarre publicity gimmick has not gone unnoticed on Twitter. The most common question many people have is, what in the world is a unisex washing machine.
The concept is so ridiculous, people can’t even outrage on it, which in itself is an achievement.
— Geetika Rustagi (@geetiga) July 14, 2017
Special features include – Washes all kinds of loads, ESPECIALLY your load of crap. pic.twitter.com/rOxXHFvAM7
— Sucharita Tyagi (@Su4ita) February 14, 2018
Masculinity so toxic, men need to be told it's also okay for them to use this washing machine. pic.twitter.com/s6z3a4j1gH
— Siddharth Singh (@siddharth3) January 1, 2017
The current lot of reaction stems from a banner at IGI airport, Delhi. Which has people falling off escalators, bewildered at the sheer concept of the ad. However, the unisex washing machines have been around since 2015. And the advertising campaign had aroused similar reactions then.
— Gayatri (@jestme) July 11, 2015
— Peacememories (@liveag) July 11, 2015
The logic behind the product is equally amusing.
According to the ads available on Twitter, the company feels that men are not clever to figure out how complex “regular” washing machines work.
— My Lloyd (@MyLloydIndia) June 6, 2017
There are two assumptions that the manufacturer has made here. First, that men don’t participate in household chores. Second, men those who actually do not participate in household chores, do so because they are scared of complex operating systems.
Both the assumptions are wrong. The new-age Indian men do help with household work. Of all the chores to be done, chugging clothes and detergent powder in a washing machine and pressing a few buttons to make sure that clothes come out decently clean, is the easiest. The marketing team for the unisex washing machines takes its product a little too seriously than it should.
As for those men who grunt while stroking their moustache and flash their badge of masculinity, when asked to help out at home, it is not the complex operating system that is the problem. It is the gender-specific upbringing and to an extent maternal pampering that is responsible.
You can give such men a washing machine which will pick dirty clothes off the floor, wash them, iron them, and help them dress as well, and still, they will refuse to operate it. Because to them, that is a woman’s job.
Branding and selling a product as unisex, should come with a strong logic and a decent amount of practicality. We have come a long way from hordes of ads in the fifties and sixties, which used to target women specifically to promote household goods. It has been a long and tumultuous road for feminism, to get rid of those misogynist ads. Even today, products like detergents, tea leaves, powdered milk energy drinks, etc are targeted specifically at women. Such ads discredit men who sacrifice live test match telecasts and spent the afternoon discussing which floor cleaner is more effective, amidst the aisles full of house care products. Men contribute more to their households now, than such ads are willing to give them credit for.
Even for those macho men who think washing clothes in a machine is beneath them, unisex washing machines are not the solution to the problem. It is reverse sexism and a devious marketing campaign masquerading as a feminist revolution. It makes a mickey out of both men and women. We can have unisex microwaves, unisex vacuum cleaners or even unisex dishwashers, but unless the mentality changes, it’s all futile. And once our mentality changes, we will no longer need to tag things as unisex.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own