When Ads Try Selling Reverse Sexism As Cheeky Advertising
While advertisers may feel chuffed about their clever wordplay and innuendos, they need to understand that sexism of all sorts is unacceptable. It is inappropriate to degrade men or take pot shots at them, as much as it is to do so to women. But Indian advertisers refuse to learn their lesson they keep pushing offensive content at us, wrapped in a blanket of subtlety. Many times it is too obscure for most people to notice, even if it is screaming in your face from the front page of a leading newspaper, or from a giant billboard.
- “Gift yourself a better man” is the punchline of an advertisement by a leading English network.
- Advertisers often use clever word-play and innuendos to sell us a product.
- Sexism in any form is not funny.
- We should reject campaigns which are offensive to men, as vehemently as we do to those which are offensive towards women.
Get the power of English movies and news in High definition with the Times – Movies and News HD pack at just ₹ 20. Ask your cable or DTH provider now pic.twitter.com/jZnPDC0TH1
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) January 31, 2019
#TimesNetwork gives full page Ads
After all, he is what he watches.
Gift yourself a better man.
Ask for Times M.A.N pack
But Who pays for Cable? It is the Man.
What should we say about Women who are locked on to Ekta Kapoor serials? pic.twitter.com/e8sE4Ao3Ak
— Gautham (@MrKarmaYogi) February 1, 2019
Imagine any possible advertisement, with a punchline where it said woman instead of man. Wouldn’t it have outraged us?
A leading English media network is advertising its new movies and news HD pack (M.A.N. get it?) with the punchline “Get yourself a better man.” Now imagine any possible advertisement, with a punchline where it said woman instead of man. Wouldn’t it have outraged us? Sadly, as actively as we have begun to outrage over sexist jibes against women in advertising, we still seem oblivious to reverse sexism. While it is about time that advertisers begin minding their ads when it comes to stereotyping and representation of women, similar treatment needs to be extended to men.
What does “get yourself a better man” even mean? What is the criterion here, to declare one man superior over another? The sweeping generalisation here, also makes women come across as opportunists. Since ages advertisers have been playing the two genders against each other, posing them as rivals, and not equals. Marriage and romantic alliances form the crux of many advertising campaigns which draw from sexist notions each gender holds against each other. She takes so much time getting ready, he has a roving eye. She is nosey and hard to please, he is messy and lazy.
The he-versus-she in our ads reflect how ad makers just love stereotyping and gender wars.
The he-versus-she in our ads reflect how ad makers just love stereotyping and gender wars. Even despite our criticism of campaigns like unisex washing machines, MC/BC billboards, advertisers refuse to learn their lesson. All they do when backlash comes their way is to offer an apology and retract offensive advertisements, only to keep rolling out another cringe-worthy campaign. How does it not dawn on them that times have changed, and sexist marketing is no longer witty or funny?
While there may have been a time when men and women approved of such ads, or chose to ignore them, increased awareness and access to social media has led to a shift in outlook. We are a more sensitised lot than we were before. We won’t let such offensive ads pass without pointing them out. This is because we expect advertisers to stop feeding stereotypical notions to those who are yet to find awareness.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.