This New Indian Ad Is A Missed Opportunity, Unlike It’s Western Version Which Is Empowering

Posted: February 4, 2019

This dating app ad that many think is a feel-good one reveals layers of misogyny under the gloss of an #EqualNotLoose ‘modern woman’.

“She earns 40 lacs a year; at the age of 30 she is already a CEO of a company but what’s the use, no kids!”
“My husband is very modern; every Sunday he cooks lunch for us.”
“My in-laws are very chilled out; they have no issues with me wearing sleeveless or jeans.

This casual patriarchy in our daily lives does not even strike us how toxic our attitude is to our own freedom. We think we understand equality but looks like we don’t.

In the recent ad by Bumble featuring Priyanka Chopra, the #EqualNotLoose is signified through different aspects of a woman’s life. Dating, career, partnerships etc. The ad is for the social network app Bumble that offers women to connect for dating, friendships etc. The ‘difference’ is that when a match is made with one’s account on Bumble, women are required to make the first move, thereby shifting the power dynamics of dating.

Check out the ad here

To most viewers, it may not be apparent, but despite this supposed ’empowerment’, the misogyny and the sexism in this ad is layered. It’s important to realize that by calling ourselves ‘not loose’ we’re also enabling people to label us.

An updated ‘good girl’

It conveys that no matter how much we achieve; we still need to conform to the norms that society has laid out for us. Placing this point to show that a career oriented woman who goes on a date, works late hours, is empowered, true, but is then laid out to be chosen by men finally, as a good girl to take home. As this article by writer-poet Sharanya Manivannan points out, it panders to the men mostly while ostensibly empowering women, echoing the same adage that “women need to be given an opportunity” as opposed to the thought that “women are enablers” themselves.

This ad, and a lot of our pop culture still portrays the updated versions of the idea of a ‘good girl’ with reference to the goddess/ whore dichotomy. So as a society it looks like we’ve just about learnt to change our definition of a good girl, but the plot is still the same.

Getting settled

This year saw some extravagant weddings and one thread that bound most people around the world was when will Deepika or Priyanka pop out as is the obvious next step for a woman, when will she have a kid and “settle” down. The nauseating interviews of both these powerful, independent and ambitious women had the same questions constantly thrown at them.

“Will you be taking a break, or will you continue working in movies?”
“When will you be having kids?”
“What kind of work will you be doing from now, when will you be making a comeback?”

No surprises, but the men are never asked questions of these tone, they are generally lauded for marrying at a career peak, and how their careers have been going great guns now that they have woman waiting at home.

Compare this with the Western version

Ironically the western version of the ad for the same app (featuring Selena Williams) portrays an empowering message much more effectively, which sadly was missed in the Indian version.

Unfortunately, this was a lost opportunity for India, as it was yet again same message wrapped in a new bottle pandering to our patriarchal mindset. The Indian version ad also does not mention other kinds of dating except the conventional cis-gendered, heterosexual type; high time this should be considered implicitly. And especially for a dating app!

No matter how many marches and movements are done, at the end of it we are still not able to unlearn the idea of not stereotyping a woman. We cannot bring ourselves to let a woman be. Not box her in a category or slot her as a goddess/whore. I guess it’s about time we women unlearn some of these concepts ourselves, and realize that women already have what the world perceives that we need to be given.

Image source: YouTube

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