One of the most predominant forces that the Indian media and the media globally have in their arsenal is advertisements.
It exerts an everlasting effect on the minds of its audience and also creates the image of the concerned brand, at the same time. It often leads to creating certain societal norms, perceptions and reasoning which may affect different sections of the society. One certain example is ‘gender inequality’ which has been prevalent in the Indian media for a very long time. One of the most debated accusations of the Indian media and its advertisements is the presentation and delineation of women.
They have been portrayed differently as compared to men across time. Men have always been portrayed in prominent visual and auditory roles, while females have always been depicted in stereotypical ways. Nike aimed to break the shackles by tackling two issues that have had the most retaliation and criticism with the help of the ‘da da ding’ campaign. Representation of women in various areas of sports and profession and giving them a status which depicts that they add more value to the society that just adding beauty are the above mentioned issues. Nike decided to portray a relentless and enthusiastic group of young women who are hard working and are breaking the previously mentioned gender stereotypes attached to them. It is evident that most of the Indian media has played more part in building the foundations of these gender stereotypes rather than representing women in our society as equal to men. But, Nike which is mostly a brand that has men who occupy most of its share of sales decided to break free from the clichéd regulations of the media world and used its power of reaching mass media to give its fair share of treatment to the young women in the society.
The advertisement involves a part where it depicts that women are now taking part in sports which were stereotypically men dominant. Various young women are playing the sport of Cricket which has been always known as a ‘genteleman’s game’. Boxing is another sport which demands aggression, physical strength and durability- in short masculinity. But, yet again young women are seen entering into the ring with their gloves and head gears on. By this varied representation Nike breaks the everlasting impression that women are just homemakers. Indian media has always represented women as mothers, sisters and wives whose main purpose are to take care of the house, look after their family and their men.
They have been delivering the message to the audience on mass that a women’s best place is at home and that it is in her best duty that she obeys to her husband. They’ve also been shown as heavily dependent on men in terms of requiring protection from them and having no purchasing power of their own. Credit is mostly never attached to them as they are never shown making any important decisions or doing any important things. All of this has led to the mass believing that women lack diversity and are limited. They have been very rarely shown as professionals or sportspersons and intellectuals. The ad has helped in proving a sense of belief and an image overall that women are no longer restricted to their house duties and are now conquering the world of sports and are delineated as a free lancer, independent of all the norms and as individuals who are determined, hardworking and destined for success.
There’s another scene in the ad where women from different segments of the sporting world, be it runners or footballers are running with a sense of freedom and with a smirk on their face so as to say to the entire world that they are now free of their shackles and are ready to achieve their dreams. By portraying this, Nike tries to break the lasting stereotype that women are only suitable for decorative roles in advertisements. For decades now, women have been shown in advertisements as sex objects who are only portrayed for their physical beauty. Women are often sexualized—typically by showing them in scanty or provocative clothing. Women are also subordinated in various ways, as indicated by their facial expressions, body positions, and other factors. (Rebecca.L.
Collins) This derivative also created a diversification between advertisements that have men and advertisements that have women. Women are often represented in advertisements of toiletries, personal car or beauty products and cleaning products while men are represented in advertisements for telecommunication, electronics, technology, mobiles, computers and cars. Women’s body and her body parts are unnecessarily presented in advertisements which further points to the argument that they are represented as sexual objects.
The women portrayed in advertisements are often ultra thin models and promotes other women to be like them. This makes women who are watching the advertisements at home uncomfortable and are left with wondering what is wrong with them. This particular representation of women lacks diversity and does not represent all women. Women more than men, are pictured using their fingers and hands to trace the outlines of an objects or to cradle it or to caress its surface.
This touch is different from the utilitarian kind that grasps, manipulates or holds of. Instead of hands sometimes faces are used and self touching is also shown which imply a sense delicacy and preciousness about the body. (Madhusmita Das)The worse part of the whole episode is that there is no revulsion, no change to biased projections and no regrets from any part of the society.
We have somehow taken the whole gamut of dialogues, stories and picturazition of women as way of our life or as if of no consequences. It has never been realized that if womanhood is come when the coming generation of the present children will have absolutely no respect for their sisters, wives and mothers. Hence the major objectives of media must be to perform the programmes relating to improvement of women’s status that they are free to assert themselves as human beings, co-equal socially, morally and politically with men. There should be positive portrayal of women taking note of their role in all facets of life.
(Himashree Patowary) Thus it can be concluded that overall effect of the portrayal of women in media is to reinforce rather than reduce prejudices and stereo types. The mass media is to reinforce rather than reduce prejudices and stereotypes. The mass media in India has not made adequate efforts to discuss serious issues concerning women and prepare the women to play their rightful and equal role in society. To change this condition, it is necessary to monitor the media and point out the merits and demerits continuously.