One would imagine that our current home-bound way of living would have pushed most of us to introspect and rethink gender roles and break gender-based stereotypes. And that we would reflect this new way of thinking in most of our acts when we try to set the new world order. Alas, that is not the case. At least, some of our advertisements still don’t believe that housework can be shared equally by all members of a household, and not just ‘real moms’ contribute to housework and have enough experience to certify the efficiency of home appliances.

For those who are not familiar, the latest ad of Voltas Beko dishwashers is doing rounds on Twitter and it says the product has been ‘tested by real mums’. There is no disputing that in times like these products like dishwashers have made lives easier and chores convenient unless you are worried about electricity consumption. But who are these real mums who have tested them? And why do we need the approval of mums only? Are women who are not mums and men, or other members of a family not cleaning dishes during the current pandemic? So, couldn’t any user, irrespective of their gender certify the product’s worth? Why are we feeding these stereotypes of a mother doing all the household chores to the buyers even now?

Also Read: Are Indian ads reinforcing unrealistic expectations from women?

For long, and especially during this pandemic-induced lockdown, women have been talking about equal sharing of the workload at home. The glaring difference in the way the housework responsibility gets assigned has never been debated as it has been during this lockdown. It has pushed many men to relook at their roles at home and a lot of them have changed themselves in more ways than one. Then why such advertisements now?

Let’s recall that Voltas Beko had a foot in the mouth kind of situation earlier too when they came out with a seemingly funny advertisement where a mother goes back to the unsuspecting shopkeeper to resell her 30 days old tomatoes. The ad claimed that veggies in the fridge will keep fresh for that long! That refrigerator also boasted of being “Tested by Real Moms” and ended up showing the mum as a scheming person. And the internet came together back then also to say no, it is not okay to position a woman-mother as unethical to sell your product.

Sometime back, there was another ad which tried to sell an atta maker for hands-free kneading of the dough to women of the household pointing that their maids could have compromised hand hygiene. They were quick to issue an official statement of apology as soon as netizens started calling them out.

A breath of fresh air came recently when a netizen called out the logo of Scotch-Brite as deeply gender marked and the parent company assured that they would look at updating the logo in keeping with the changing times.

Also Read: How Involved Are Indian Dads When It Comes To Parenting?

Why are advertisements that reinforce stereotypes constantly finding their way to the mainstream media? Why are ad-makers not mending their ways? Why does no one object to a copy like this during office meetings? Is adhering to stereotypes a deliberate ploy to get attention of the audience? These are questions, we need to probe. Indian ads have often represented the woman in a skewed way. She is either the diva or the Sati Savitri but our sensibilities and preferences are fast-changing today. Advertisements must keep up. It is 2020 and women can’t be banished to the kitchen even if none of us are going out.

Responding to the article Voltas Beko reached out to SheThePeople saying,“As a brand, Voltas Beko has always celebrated the spirit of womanhood in all our campaigns. Likewise in this advertisement, we captured a fun, casual conversation between four independent and spirited friends who got together over a video call during the lockdown. One of the characters in the video refers to how the family has been managing household chores, with her husband taking over the responsibility of washing dishes. This is when the protagonist of the film recommends a dishwasher. Our products have been developed to create convenience and comfort for all our customers, and are gender agnostic.”

Picture Credit: Voltas Beko/Twitter

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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