Ever get the feeling that you’re slipping down a slippery slope, and there is not a handhold or a foothold in sight?
I remember that billboard for Jazz, put up at the intersection of KalaPul and Shahrah-e-Faisal many years ago, with a lady talking suggestively on the phone. Every time I would pass by it, I would wish that someone would do something about it. I did nothing about it. One day, I heard that it caught fire. Stories went around that some disgruntled fundos did it. And I wished I was one of them.
For some time, the ads became a little more decent. And then the deluge began. With cell phone companies leading the way, mattress peddlers, soft drink makers and just about everyone else began TV ads, billboards etc with women giving the come hither look to the poor unsuspecting men, just to sell some airtime minutes.
Soon to follow, Indian movies moved out of drawing room VCRs to our cinema halls. And women anchors on TV talk shows wearing T-Shirts. And then, women in tight clothes were all around, going to schools selling Red Bull, approaching you in shopping malls selling shampoo, and so on….
I thought the women’s liberation movement was all about liberating women from the exploitation of men. But I look around me in the year 2010 and I see beautiful women being used to sell wares. This selling is not through intelligent persuasion but through subliminal targeting and manipulation. So this is liberation?
This probably sounds like a tempest in a teacup to those who don’t remember the days before that Jazz ad. Indecency does not shock us anymore, because it is everywhere. Much less than stopping it with our hands, or speaking out against it, we often neglect to even think of these as bad in our hearts.
If things are to change, we need to be that change.
There is an ad campaign on TV these days selling Omore ice-cream, in which young men and women in tight clothes do gymnastic dance moves, to sell ICE-CREAM cones! I find it distasteful (the ad – haven’t tried the ice-cream). Yet, I was complacent. Then I received an email from a friend, informing me of a kind soul who started an email campaign to urge Engro Foods to pull that commercial. And I did the same. And I felt like it was the first blow I struck, insignificant as it was.
If we are to stop this exploitation of our sisters and daughters, we must speak out against it wherever we see it. And to back up those words with actions such as choosing a competing product in protest.
If you share my view, kindly write a polite email to Engro Foods, asking them to pull the ads because they offend our religious and cultural sensibilities. You may send these to Mr. Rehan (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please remember to be polite but firm. Kindly send a Bcc to email@example.com, so that he can monitor how much pressure we are exerting. And spread the word to your circle of family and friends, so that they may speak up too.