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The Myntra logo controversy. In my humble opinion, this has been just another storm in a teacup, and a display of the pitfalls of human imagination.
There is much that can be said about the power of imagination. It brought us stories. It brought us our myths. It also brought us explanations that came before the advent of science. It brought us the images we see in clouds and random patterns.
And it brought us now, the Myntra logo controversy.
In December 2020, Naaz Patel, the founder of NGO Avesta Foundation in Mumbai, filed a complaint with the Cyber Police in Mumbai. The complaint was against the logo of the e-commerce company Myntra. It reportedly said that the logo is offensive to women. On January 29, 2021, Avesta Foundation tweeted that Myntra has decided to change its logo.
There has been no direct declaration by the company so far. Various news reports like this one on Livemint quote the testimonial by DCP (Cyber Crime, Mumbai) which says, ‘We found that the logo was offensive in nature for women. We called a meeting with Myntra following the complaint, they (Myntra) came and agreed to change the logo. They have sent an e-mail as well on the same.’
In the last weekend of January, the matter has received much attention from netizens. Considering that the tweet by Avesta Foundation didn’t go viral, it is the mushrooming news pieces that brought light to the ‘changing of logo’.
In some news reports, the headlines quote that Myntra was ‘forced’ to change logo after ‘outrage’. The use of such words makes one question, where was the outrage? If one woman’s complaint supported by the police is an outrage for a company to change its logo, then the question arises, ‘why are we not changing as a society?’
Certain other news items also mention that Myntra has already changed its logo on the website. It hasn’t. According to the DCP, Myntra will be making the changes in a month’s time.
Here’s the thing!
Women have vaginas and legs. Women like to have sex. Women like to have sex in various positions, and play an active role in the act.
With the amount of attention that the logo got last weekend, there have been multiple interpretations of the M which is supposed to be ‘a woman with her legs spread out’. To most of us, this only comes after staring at it for a while, and thinking about it from the already provided lens of ‘indecency’.
It also brings a crisis of imagination. But, now that I am on it, I would like to imagine it as a woman pleasuring herself, and I find it liberating. Will Myntra decide to keep the logo? After all, it depicts sexual freedom of women.
Sarcasm apart, the female body has always been objectified. We have seen it through the dominant male gaze, which hyper-sexualises parts of the female body. We have seen it in movies, magazines, etc. There’s no denying that.
At the same time, the male gaze associates the female body with shame. A woman being aware of her own sexuality is often depicted as cunning, a gold-digger, vamp, etc.
It is high time that we, as women, question why a female body or the (imaginary?) depiction of it (if at all) makes us uncomfortable. Broadly I can think of two reasons.
First, we do not have the male gaze. Cis-het women don’t look at women as sexual objects meant for nainsukh prapti in real life, on television, or any form of visual media. While women with varied sexual orientations and gender affiliation could desire women sexually, it doesn’t always come down to objectification.
Second, we are ashamed; rather, we’re taught to, conditioned to, raised to be ashamed. We follow the patriarchal narrative that detaches a woman from her body and sexuality, to control her, lest she becomes indecent and a black mark on the honour of the family and society at large.
The problem with such news becoming viral is that it becomes a tool against feminists. It leads to feminists being accused of ‘fake feminism’ on the account of ‘look a woman said it, not men.’ The onus of explaining, defending, putting forth ‘real’ issues, engaging in debates then lies on feminists. The emotional and intellectual labour that goes into fighting this battle on online platforms is frankly not worth going through because people are mostly looking to disregard feminism and indulge in whatabouttery.
News, debates, and discussions such as these only bring disappointment that inadvertently made me write, because when I look at the nature of complaint, I find it regressive and following the patriarchal idea of shame associated with sexuality. It does not add to feminism, it adds to patriarchy.
For moving towards a world with gender equality as its premise, we need to look at oppression, privilege and entitlement together, and start having difficult conversations that go beyond memes.
I don’t think ‘Myntra Logo Controversy’ deserves the attention it’s getting. It’s important to choose one’s own battles and it frankly pains me that all these years of struggle are in the danger of being dismissed because we still rely on mainstream media to give us the ‘news that matters’.
Just over the weekend, there have been numerous posts about similar logos that can be offensive when stared at with the lens of sexual intercourse and in certain cases child abuse. So the main question remains, what are the battles we choose to fight?
Image source: Deon Black on Pexels and Myntra logo
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