Thinking whether this is just another clichéd article about the absurdity and ridiculousness of the “logic” behind Pakistani ads? Well, it’s a tad bit more than that. It’s about how we’re portraying the role of our women in our country, ultimately paving way for bigotry and intolerance against them. After all, you know what they say. Change really does begin at grass root level. And for change, perhaps, the first step would be to reflect upon the mass indoctrination of female stereotypes through these advertisements.
One of such ad’s, has been Bonus’s impressive tendency and unwavering record of presenting the ever old, typical rift between a saas and her bahu. Not only do such portrayals reinforce stereotypes and propagate clashes between families, they also reduce women to petty fights when they illustrate their most glorious achievement as winning over their in-laws with the cheapest and most effective detergent. The only mantra these women are seen chanting is “Wah kya baat he bonus ki!” After all, all that matters is mastering the skill of ultra clean, pristine laundry. (This one however, has extra, spice due to bhabhi-nand arguments making the rounds too!)
Tapal Daneda’s advertisement is another example of how an ambitious, young woman is married off right after she discovers that she has topped at her university. Her gladly accepting to serve the guests with chai and stowing away any career prospects is a prime example of female indoctrination. While the role of women as homemakers is of extreme importance and respect, it is important to let women pursue their careers, if they wish to do so. But, hey, lo and behold! If you can make flawless chai and win all hearts, then that’s the greatest triumph. After all “muqammal chai, muqammal ghar.”
Women succeeding in professional fields are completely missing from the landscape. The biggest worry of their lives have become impressing their in-laws with the perfectly cooked kheer on the first day in their susraal, (Laziza Kheer Mix to the rescue!) perfectly brewed chai, perfectly spotless laundry, oh, and preparing massive feasts that always leaves the guests impressed. Surprisingly so, they even look perfect doing so. Tall, lean, meticulous makeup and supermodel looks. Our obsession with women, especially domestically is absolutely absurd. Perhaps, for once a real-life representation of real-life women wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
What’s worse is that even the products being sold to women are advertised in a ridiculous way. Fairness is portrayed as the epitome of beauty and elegance. Usually, a girl as portrayed as the black sheep, the outcast, the misfit and her magical transformation results in the influx of rishtas, immediately making her the new “it girl.” In this case, this woman garners her husband’s attention by her porcelain, milky-white skin. The rest is just self-explanatory.
The best one however is Zubaida apa’s tagline. “Ab gora hoga Pakistan.” Not only showcasing the effects of colonialism but also our obsession with “gori rangat” that drives us to such idiocy. Use everyday, and voila! Supermodel looks! Maybe for once, a lesson on genetics could put a halt on such ads messing with the self-esteems of millions of women.
Let’s not forget the toilet cleaning ads in which women are reduced to all sorts of craziness to demonstrate the cleanliness of the toilet. This absurdity reached new heights when a female doctor scrapes the bottom surface of a toilet to prove how “sanitary” it is.
The last straw however, is the increasing rise of insurance ads emphasizing on how important it is to save for a son’s education while saving up for a daughter’s dowry and marriage expenses.
To cut it short, a women’s honor and pride can be summed in
- her cooking skills that have her saas and husband at her feet
- her ability to meticulously clean her family’s laundry (and economically!)
- perfect gol rotis and garhi chai!
- oh and squeaky clean toilets too!
Written by Sara Khan (team PS)