Pallavi Vilas Kamat

Advertising’s Responsibility to Women

In India, it is often observed that companies more often than not objectify women when it comes to advertising and selling their products. Switch on any random television channel and observe any random advertisement. Women are portrayed as a commodity and used to sell anything from colas to tiles; from mobile phones to financial products.

It is 2015 and advertisements are still portraying women as docile housewives who wait for their husbands to come home and eat freshly cooked food. You can count on your fingers the number of advertisements which show working women. Even then, a woman will cook breakfast for her family members as per their individual choices, clean the utensils and wash the clothes before she steps out to go to work.

Be it taking care of parents or children, the advertising industry would like us to believe that it is the role of a woman. Is a father not equally concerned for a sick child? Would a dad not be bothered about the joint pains his mother has to go through? Aren’t men supposed to be sensitive towards their daughter’s grades? A patriarchal society is responsible for producing such kind of advertisements.

Financial products’ advertisements, especially insurance, manage to send out subtle messages that one needs to save for a son’s education or a daughter’s marriage. Another irritation is that the man is often shown to make financial decisions on behalf of ‘his family’. Aren’t women making such kind of decisions these days? Aren’t they investing in financial assets independently? What kind of signals are these advertisements sending out into the society?

And I have literally had it with those advertisements where the woman has absolutely nothing to do with the product but is placed only to lure buyers. A model is shown sprawled across the floor in a tiles advertisement. A man uses a certain deodorant and is instantly shown to attract more women.

I know companies are only interested in selling their products and raking in more profits. It would, however, be better if they paid heed to the portrayal of women. They need to have more women in their decision-making process and focus groups who will show them their folly. Especially, in a country like India, where women are facing daily tribulations, I believe media has a huge responsibility to play. One can only hope and pray that in the coming times we will have more responsible and sensible advertising.

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About the Author

I am a staunch feminist wanting to raise my voice at every instance of injustice that I come across. I am also a dreamer who believes in an equal opportunity world. Professionally, I am a CA and a banker.

Pallavi Vilas Kamat
Pallavi Vilas Kamat


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