Katrina Kaif must make love to a mango but for SRK, it's an ice-pack: Sexism in Indian ads
By Sharanya Dutta
It’s festive season, and it’s impossible to look through newspapers or magazines without being attacked by a barrage of excitable advertisements featuring beautiful people. Indo-Pak sabre-rattling and surgical suspicions with a side of Manyavar suits and Nakshatra Jewellers. We should be glad for this raunak in our lives but we have one question to ask. Why are female celebrities always made to do bizarre things in our ads?
Here is a newspaper spread from recent times.
While Farhan Akhtar looks the part of a legit country musician and lives by his code (in the oh-so-subtle punny ad for Code by Lifestyle), Kangana Ranaut has been stuck in this stomach-pain-miss-can-I-go-home pose in the ‘she’ version of ad. Please note that she perseveres and does not go home because she’s ‘pretty damn strong’).
Then we have baniyan-ed Saif advertising Amul Macho ‘bade aaram se’.
But this ‘aaram’ is not for the women in the ads. In one, ghungroo-ed and ghoonghat-ed Sana Khan is out at the ghaat, shy because the other women are judging her. Suddenly she unveils herself to reveal a pair of her husband’s blue underwear (whose elasticity seems directly proportional to the number of orgasms it can give women looking at it). This is known as Amul Macho’s ‘toing’ factor. ‘Crafted for Fantasies’ (the tagline) seems to work for Sana, who we’re supposed to imagine orgasms by the time she’s done washing it.
In another bizarre ad, orangutans steal her husband’s tighty-whities and then play out a ‘fantasy’. We’re not very sure we understand this one, to be honest.
We used to associate chocolate with sugar rushes and some childlike pleasures. But check this out — Dairy Milk ft the Big B is limited to glee, but the woman’s face must be coated in chocolate, in a shot tiresomely inspired by ancient porn.
Then there are the deodorant ads. Axe used to have the monopoly over sexist advertisements in this department, but Wild Stone decided to give them a run for their money. About the Axe Anarchy ad, Kyle Marancos, senior brand building manager of Axe, says, “Men and women are driven by attraction, and Axe provides the spark they need to act on that attraction.” Wild Stone just inserts women, mid-orgasm, everywhere. The men all show off their immaculately shaved chests and heavy-duty muscles, and women are either draped around them like so much sexy seaweed, or like in this case, Diya Mirza’s best come-hither look. Also, it seems like the smaller the company, the more they feature scantily clad women as bait.
Honestly, by this point we expect condom ads to be sexist. The women, even Sunny Leone, need only be pursued, penetrable, yielding. While the men, such as Durex’s favourite Ranveer Singh, are active, celebratory and in jolly pursuit of the next lay.
When Levi’s released the Live Unbuttoned collection, we knew who they’d be unbuttoning first. But it still doesn’t explain why Kangana Ranaut (who, according to Google search looks her “sultry best in an enticing Levi’s ad”) may as well have been advertising Fevicol.
And finally, everyone’s all-time favourite. We are supposed to imagine that Katrina Kaif would deep throat that bottle/hived mango if she could — either that or she has learnt to imbibe the mango goodness directly through her skin, and it feels soooo gooood. King Khan just decides to use the Frooti as an ice-pack — sans orgasms — and that’s okay.
The government is considering a ban on celebrities for starring in ‘misleading’ ads. What exactly constitutes misleading, we wonder? Hyper-masculinity? Aphrodisiac deodorants? Mangoes substituting for dildos? Advertising agendas of ‘Buy Product, Get Orgasm Free’ or ‘Here are some boobs’ are getting a bit old, don’t you think?
In case you thought we were only citing dated ads, here is a collage of an ad from the 1960s and one that was featured in the Times of India on 9 October 2016. Guess which is which.
The Ladies Finger (TLF) is an online women’s magazine