Finally, are our ads breaking ‘Gender’ stereotypes?

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Apparently, advertisements have taken a new trend of promoting women empowerment by portraying them as ambitious, open-minded and hardworking. And the reason for this is “to impress the men in their lives”.

Let us take the example of the Laziza Kheer ad where the newly wed bride is supposed to impress her father-in-law.  It is pleasing to watch this ad whilst it being wrong on so many levels. Below are some of the reasons I love this excrescence which refuses to leave TV screens.

With over-embroidered saris, exaggerated expressions and flat lighting, the visuals, the getups and the acting style fully subscribe to the Indian soap college. The children seem to understand their chachi is being tested, making them part of the bride’s exam panel and adding to the bride’s woes. The mother-in-law refuses to comment on the kheer, which is consistent with all three main adverse stereotypes: non-committal, wholly dependent on the view of her husband, completely reluctant to assist her daughter-in-law. The patriarch finally tastes the dessert and approves it, causing the husband to clap in joy.

Lesson: It is vital for a woman to be a “brilliant cook” to fit into a new household after her marriage. (LOL)

Not just this, there a many more ads presenting different kinds of stereotypes. One common stereotype is that a couple is forbidden to show their love in front of the elderly. Of course, this does not refer to PDA but instead a smile, a nod or even dinning together. According to one of “Lemon Max” ad, the husband and wife end up washing their dishes after having dinner late night to make sure this “sinful” act stays hidden. Shame!

Although, upcoming ads have contributed to change this kind of stereotypes such as the new Lemon Max Long Bar, where the husband is participating in washing the dishes. However, because of the ad’s sticking to the “dumb/clueless man” stereotype, the message is kind of lost.

All is not lost. There is a new campaign “Main, tum aur ek cup chai” run by Tapal, where in one ad,the spouse arrives back from the office soon to his wife’s surprise,  who ineluctably assumes she has to do her wifely obligation now and brew her husband’s cuppa. Instead, by doing so himself, the husband surprises her.

Moreover, another ad shows a mother watching her son leave for a meeting hopelessly, wanting to have a cup of tea with him. The man almost leaves but returns to have a cup with her. saying “this is the most important meeting of the day”.  I applaud the makers of such ads. The message sent through such ads are direct without forced humor. And most importantly they show the nature of men as emotionally caring and not just a blubbering idiot.

Now, if we were to differentiate between this and Shan’s new ad of the sophisticated outside living man, who meets his inlaws and apparently fails all the conventional tests of manhood and saves the day by cooking biryani for the house members and thus reminding them of their late mother. Now ask, what is wrong with this ad? The portray of the deceased shows her holding a plate of biryani which represents that she is ONLY remembered by her cooking tastes and nothing else.

Point being, majority of the ad making producers in out society believe that the sole purpose of a woman is to cook and feed her family and the only thing determining her as “good house-wife” is by the taste of her food and the way she impress the males in the family.

In conclusion, there has been a change in the overall advertisement field. If this kind of change continues and the mentality that every ad needs to be funny could be changed, there is hope that women would be appreciated more than they are and that it is the duty of every family member to contribute equally and not just the woman.

 

Written by: Barirah Abdul Khaliq

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