There’s a board on Pinterest that shows rank sexism in the advertisements of the 1960s and the most recent ones in the United States.
It’s axiomatic of the adage: the more things change, the more they stay the same. If a timeline of Indian advertisements could be similarly trailed, the sexism quotient might show similar trends: Indian woman is still the prime nurturer of her family or sex siren accessory to macho bikes, cool cars and music systems.
In the commodification of womanhood, the ad industry poses stiff competition to the Hindi film world though their persuasions may be different. The deo ad that had women falling all over and across the man, industry veterans believe, hit a new low as did the Ford ad with bound and gagged women in the boot for which the company later apologised. “It’s objectification to the hilt even if as a male fantasy,” said one. The induction of the realistic woman is still a feeble attempt. Mostly, the line between sensuality and sexuality is blurred; as is the one between sensuality and titillation. Remember when actor Asin was selling an orange soft drink with a group of mixed age people who indulged in some heavy breathing after sipping on the drink? Misplaced use of sexuality, it was.
The National Advertising Monitoring Service monitored 5 lakh ads last year and fielded 3,000 complaints. It did not give a breakdown of the nature of complaints but “a fair number pertained to portrayal of women as sex objects,” said an official.