Parity Blogs: The sexy, dumb woman – There is Shame in Silence

Parity Blogs written by Meera Kaul

“Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things….she can jab the hood. Graze the door. Or bump the bumper…..Sooner or later, your wife will drive home, one of the best reason to own a Volkswagen.”

 “Datacomp has a computer anyone can use….even women!”

“Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things….she can jab the hood. Graze the door. Or bump the bumper…..Sooner or later, your wife will drive home, one of the best reason to own a Volkswagen.”

“Google Simplifies Gmail So Women Can Shop for Shoes, in just over a minute, we see a woman use Gmail’s new features to chat with her knitting friends, plan a date, get a coupon for a mani-pedi—and, of course, buy shoes.”

Sexist advertisements as cited above portray women regressively. Over the years, society and gender stereotypes have evolved. Ironically advertising messages have not changed. The only evident progression is that instead of washing by hand, women are now using washing machines in advertisements!

However it is important to note that Media is a mirror of the prevailing culture in any society. Advertisements are made after in-depth behavioral research of the potential consumers. Therefore, the manifestation of women in stereotypical roles or as sex objects echoes the mass gender bias that persistently still exists in society, albeit veiled.

A study on the portrayal of women in advertisements revealed:

  • Women are 4 times more likely than men to not have a speaking role
  • Women are 3 times more likely than men to be presented as a product user rather than an authority
  • Women are 3.5 times more likely than men to be presented at home or in a domestic environment.
  • Women are 2 times more likely than men to be associated with domestic products like body care and home goods.

Adverts for men’s products like deodorants, briefs or aftershaves depict women going weak-in-the-knees, and demanding, or begging for sex swayed by the power of the product being used by the man.

Violence against women is further legitimized directly or indirectly by media depictions. One of the Ford ads showed former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi ball-gagging three women in his trunk while flashing the peace sign.

Women are featured as dependent on men and having no mechanical or scientific aptitude and ability. Used-car pricing service TrueCar threw the cultural gear into reverse with a spot explaining how the brand helps women finally go car shopping without having to bring a man along.

However, this cycle needs to break. Media has the power to mould mindsets. Advertisements can be used as a vehicle to bring revolutionary changes and help in destroying traditional gender stereotypes. In this digital age, responsible advertising is crucial for gender parity.

 

MEERA KAUL:

Meera Kaul has the unique experience of being a serial entrepreneur and an angel investor along with the exposure of having worked in venture capital and private equity domains. Over the last 2 decades of her career, Meera Kaul has incubated, financed and promoted technology enabled ventures in US, Europe and the emerging markets of Middle East, Africa and Asia. Meera continues to be involved with several start-ups the world over as an investor or in an advisory role and holds a striking track record of 4 multi-million dollar exits. A committed philanthropist, Meera is also the founder of The Meera Kaul Foundation, a not-for-profit that works towards addressing gender bias in workplaces and empowering women through skills training and capacity building. Meera has also been involved as a Strategic Advisor for Leadership Initiatives with the US State Department Program for women in technology called TechWomen. Meera’s business acumen has made her the only indigenous entrepreneur Voted one of the Top 50 women in the Telecom space. The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) also honored Meera as a 2015-2016 inductee into its VIP Woman of the Year Circle. Apart from this Meera has also earned the coveted title of Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013 and 2015, while also being the Executive of the Year over consecutive years. Meera was also awarded The Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 award for Asia. And more recently, to add to her prestigious list of accolades, Meera won the coveted Women of Influence Award 2016, courtesy the Silicon Valley Business Journal, for her tireless efforts in the space of Technology and Leadership for women. Additionally, Meera is an investor in several Silicon Valley startups, is the founder of technology publications and sits on the board of various cutting-edge hi-tech ventures globally. Besides being an accomplished technology geek, Meera has a degree in International Taxation and Financial Law from TJSL, and is also an Alumni of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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