Stop Sexist Advertisements!

The new series of advertisements from Head and Shoulders India – a shampoo brand, awakened in me such an anger that I just had to write immediately. You can watch two of the three variants here and here, and I will also most kindly break these silly ads down for you.

They invariably begin with a man complaining about something. In the link above, it is his maid. In some others, it is the fit of his jeans. He will proceed to speak in a slightly effeminate way on a topic that is considered exclusive to women. Because only women should be concerned about the household, housework, right? Sorry if you were under the impression that India can be modern now and men also worry about all this. Nope, why trouble them with problems such as maids and their salary? Leave it to the women!

In another, a man pats is seen trying on a pair of jeans and looking at himself in the mirror, displeased. Then he calls out to his wife ‘Baby, am I looking fat? Here?’, indicating his butt. See where this is going?

Then with some mediocre sound effects, the glorious H&S shampoo bottle knocks out the pink bottle already on a table, and in bold letters and a bold voice it is announced ‘STOP. BEFORE YOU STOP BEING A MAN.’

Basically saying, ‘Don’t use your wife’s shampoo, dude.’

But the underlying message of this add is what annoys me. Insecurity about outer appearance is something that should remain exclusive to women, right? We should continue to doubt ourselves in every way, dislike every part of our body that isn’t traditionally beautiful, we should pinch parts and call them ‘problem areas’ and we should feel like we don’t deserve a pair of jeans because they ‘apparently’ make some parts of our body look bigger.

They also imply that a woman’s place is to take care of the house, handle people such as maids and for a man to do this would be a great attack on his ‘masculinity’. Implying that these jobs are below a man’s dignity, implies that a woman has less dignity in the first place!

Are men really so insecure that they think using a particular shampoo is going to stop their testosterone production? Making an effort to help their wives with housework would cut off their testicles? Allowing themselves to be vulnerable denies them their belonging to their gender?

I really hope that most of you men out there are not stupid enough to fall for this advertisement and buy into its message. I really hope that more people have seen the reality of and objected to the horrible message of this ad that perpetrates the age old view that a woman cooks while the man earns, something Indian women have been attempting to fight for years.

As always, opinions and suggestions are welcome. Did these ads anger you as much as me?

Thanks,

S.

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My opinion on opinions and lousy politicians.

Sometimes I hear things that anger me. Sometimes I read things that anger me. Sometimes I see things that anger me. Sometimes I don’t act strongly enough. Sometimes I feel like writing about them.

The other day someone told me that they felt like vegans who stood firm in their disapproval of meat eaters were behaving foolishly, following a trend. Yes, because people who have opinions (different from the majority) and make them clear only deserve to be discounted and generalized as squawkers seeking attention. I did make an effort to explain that it is and should be perfectly okay for people to express an opinion no matter how it was formed. But sometimes it isn’t easy to make your point.

(This example isn’t just about veganism. Often such disrespect is shown to feminists too. I speak from personal experience)

In a more public and condemned example, Mulayam Singh Yadav haughtily claimed that girls form ‘friendships’ with boys and later (often) break them off, only to then claim rape. Thank you, to one of the leading politicians of our country for understanding all relationships between youngsters almost two generations below him so so so well and summing it up in the least disrespectful and insulting manner possible. Thank you for your extensive and well researched understanding of rape cases and your concise, convenient summary of this issue. Thank you for considering the feelings of many women who have actually been raped and/or had friendships with those of the opposite gender(with and without success). Thank you for treating us women as human beings and not as a vehicle of blame for all that is wrong with our society. Thank you for your generous show of empathy to all rape victims. (Some of whom are male too. Gasp! Now who is to blame?)

He also casually said ‘They are boys, they make mistakes. Should they be hanged?’ Classic example of doubt standards and hypocrisy that comes from chauvinists. While girls are beaten by their husbands simply for wearing jeans, boys should be let off easy for violating a woman’s basic right – control over her own body? The common definition of a mistake is an unintended wrong doing. Does he not intend the violent physical abuse that often comes with rape? Does he not intend to ignore her pleas and cries of pain? Do these ‘simply happen‘?

The word mistake also implies regret. Often, the men are proud of this act, and ready boast about it to fellow males, lauding it as an achievement. In what way is this a mistake? Downplaying rape, undermining victims, and shifting blame away form the perpetrator is the worst thing society does. Do we tell victims of mugging they were asking for it by carrying their wallets? By having wallets?  By walking in that place/at that time/without a particular item? That is rape culture.

Honestly, I feel like these examples are just an indication of how much Indian society wants to suppress those who don’t have the same opinion as the ‘cultural norm’ (formed 1004018359275 years ago and notwithstanding changes since then, has not really evolved).

PS: This post has been a very random rant after being inspired by reading some amazing feminism blogs by Indian women.

The statements made by MSY can be read in detail here, and the story is about two weeks old. Just wanted to give my two cents, though a little late on the bandwagon.

It’s early days yet on this blog and suggestions, opinions and comments are welcome (if I do have any readers, that is.)

Thanks,

S.