It is ironic that several brands notorious for sexist and gender stereotyped ads tweeted Women’s Day wishes yesterday. While on one hand, these brands resort to gender stereotyping and objectification of women to sell their products, they shamelessly promote gender equality for that one day. Brands do this in a bid to either sound progressive, or cash in on the free promotion at hand using specific hashtags. Such promotional strategies are responsible for commercialisation of a day which is about conversations, celebration and raising awareness regarding gender equality.
Such brands advertisements do not understand feminism at all
My Twitter page is full of glossy Women’s Day messages, which have “conceived in testosterone filled creative chambers” written all over them.
Because these messages are slick and clever on the surface, but somehow, they fail to put across the right message. One such electronic home appliances brand, put out a notoriously misogynist advertisement a few months ago.
But then yesterday, the said brand tried to sound progressive with a picture which is supposed to come across as empowering.
— LG India (@LGIndia) March 8, 2018
Ironically, this ad claims “equality is empowering” does nothing more than to further push across stereotyping. It is unfair to modern sensibilities and to men who participate equally in household chores. Men willingly operate washing machines at home, and women (read wives) like me, don’t have to look at TV remote control with longing reserved only for Fawad Khan or chocolate fudge ice cream.
There were also a couple of automobile brands which pitched gender equality and empowerment yesterday.
But these automobile manufacturers do not bat an eyelid when models are used as visual commodities in Auto Expos or car shows.
Another car manufacturer claimed that it was proud to be a part of our journey
— Ford India (@FordIndia) March 8, 2018
When only a few years ago it had come up with this appalling campaign
Stop using women’s day as a sales pitch
Definitely, there are some brands who understand how to get across the message of gender equality. Their messages are thought-provoking, powerful and air throughout the year. Unlike many others who only pledge commitment to feminism for a day. While we are struggling to push change in cultural approach to feminist causes, their advertisements end up doing more harm than good.
It’s not about giving us a day off from household work or letting us drive the car. It is about accepting us as equals and resolving to build an inclusive society.
Brands choose to create promotional hashtags on Women’s Day and sell their products under the guise of empowerment. For the rest of the year, its women in skimpy outfits who will represent half the population in their ads. Women will pose seductively near cars, and lust after men riding bikes or wearing perfumes. Then again in brands will resuscitate old hashtags or create new ones and change into the costume of feminism albeit for a day. In a way, this behaviour is a reflection of our own society. They leer at bikini-clad bodies and crack sexist jokes behind our backs but every Women’s Day they worry about crimes against women.
We do not need such pretend feminism on our side. If brands sincerely want to contribute to women’s empowerment, then first they should strip off the decoy of seductive women. Plan campaigns which are not centred around a model’s navel. It is only then, that their Women’s Day wishes will come across as genuine.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own