By Bushra Hassan.
Once I was walking on the road and there was a girl running and pushing everyone that came in her way. She was running blindly without noticing what she was doing and where she was headed to. In the meanwhile I was trying to accept that was in front of my eyes and was trying to figure out what was going on. I was very confused as I have never seen a girl running when suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. I was on ground before I could even turn around to see who it was. It was another girl running in the same direction. Young, pretty and long haired girls were running without noticing where they were going. Then I noticed that there was this attractive fragrance in air as if it was calling me to itself and I along with others left everything and started chasing a guy who was wearing that perfume like character-jerry gets attracted to the smell of cheese.
But hey wait! Did I just say the fragrance of a perfume was leading me and millions of other girls to a guy wearing a particular perfume? Is that even possible? No, it isn’t and it is way too fake and exaggerated even to think about it. But is it not exaggerated if we see it in our daily electronic media? Does it justify the core objective of advertisements or does a perfume has super powers to influence millions of women to leave whatever they are doing and make them run towards a guy wearing it as it is being shown in our everyday commercials? The answer to it is No. Advertising is supposed to be selling a product on the features present in it, instead of portraying women in the ads as an object to elevate the desire and force people to buy that product. Girls running after a guy because he used a scent or a girl moving her finger on guy’s face as he used a razor of a particular brand are all way beyond reality.
Powerful, independent and self-made Pakistani women are appreciated all over the world. They have done wonders and have shown by their act and performance that they are not less than anyone. History has witnessed many Pakistani women who stood on their feet and made the country, through their hard work, to appreciate and idolize them. But when we go through media, we don’t see the role of women as we witness in real life, leaving a few. Dishwasher, Cook, Janitor, Housewife is what a woman is being portrayed mostly in our advertisements. People have witnessed a history of these stereotypical roles in media particularly when it comes to advertisements. Advertisements should reflect our norms, values and the use of a product by staying within those norms. If we see our norms being portrayed in the advertisements, we mostly see a lady being portrayed in above mentioned roles which gives a message that Pakistani women are only capable of doing household chores. These stereotypical roles and the use of women as an object carry a history of decades and are not something our society is not familiar of. Different brands of Cooking Oils, Toilet Cleaners, Soaps, Washing Powders, etc have always targeted women and portrayed them to be the only consumer and responsible to buy their products.
Casting a female as an object merely to add glamour to a commercial is not the only key to make a product popular. Younger brothers are protected and defended by their elder brothers is an everyday observation and when it is shown nicely in any commercial, then the branding automatically becomes popular and message gets desirable. Cooking Biryani for younger brother who misses his mother on the eve of Eid, with a catchy song, has proved to be one of the most popular advertisements of Pakistan. Such advertisements have proved that you don’t always need a woman to force people buy their undesired products or the glamour does not make people increase their demands but it is your idea that connects and portrays a product to the reality resulting in people to remember the particular brand whenever they go shopping. Women as a corporate lady being shown in telecom commercials or tremendously executed commercials of banking sectors that show the story of Samina Baig, Pakistan’s first woman to summit Mount Everest, empowers women and spreads the message that Pakistani women are powerful and can achieve any goal if they want to. This ad did not show women as an object but narrates the story of a woman which can be an inspiration of many.
Pakistani women are not weak or limited to their homes only, but they have proved themselves successful as well in their social and practical lives. Pakistani society expects women to prior their family and look after their kids but portraying women in these stereotypical roles, not only demoralizes them but also gives a message that they are only limited to their homes. Pakistani women, in reality, have proved to be good housewives and successful professionals both at the same time, but portraying only one aspect of Pakistani women via various advertisements is injustice towards Pakistani women.
The writer is a Research Analyst and holds a strong command over Entertainment Industry. She can be reached at;