Gender Stereotypes Sell ! Or Do They?

The advertising industry has been booming since its inception. Media is the most invasive and one of the most dominant tools for viewing and projecting product promotion. Media indicates its messages into our consciousness, many of which perpetuate unrealistic and stereotypical ideas. Gender stereotyping in media, where women are objectified, looked down upon if not presented in an ideal way implies that women have been targeted as an inferior gender very evidently by the advertising industry.

The portrayal of women in media, across the globe, to sell various products to the consumers with has been leading to gender stereotyping. Since childhood, the products given to the child are segregated by the gender. Girls are taught about how dolls and pink is what “she” represents and a boy is bound to play with cars and be attracted to blue which is that “he” represents. This separate existence is what leads to setting gender norms. In India, mostly all soap, detergents, creams or home appliances like Surf Excel, Lux, Nirma, Rin, and Moov etc portray women as caretakers of home. As a consequence of such stereotyping in a visual and virtual world, the cultural dilemma becomes more dominating on how a woman should present herself in reality as well. Men generally advertise cars, bikes, cigarettes, business or IT products or investments and are shown in outdoor settings. For example, many deodorant advertisements have shown how the image of a ‘sexy man’ is portrayed in such a way that make women lose their sense of judgment because the fragrance is impossible to resist. This shows how deeply inherent these gender roles are and how important it is to change this status quo and make the society gender neutral.

How relevant are these gender roles in the modern era where women are taking a leap in every sphere of life? The media and advertising industry know that they perpetuate gender stereotyping and off late has come to realize the changing trends of women and how this is not an ethical practice. Women have come a long way from being the inferior gender and confining indoors to coming outside and creating an impact not only in the corporate or IT sector but also the education sector. This is why media has launched certain campaigns that change the existing gender roles. The recent advertisement of the “Audi R8 car” in Spain shows how the girl who is believed to not drive a car and rather play with dolls leaps into the driver’s seat, zooms off and encounters a different world and muscular boys sip coffee on the pink side. The “Hero Pleasure Scooty” advertisement endorsed by Alia Bhat and Priyanka Chopra with a tagline “why should boys have all the fun” and various similar advertisements changes the way women are perceived. The campaign “Ariel – Share the Load” shows how women should not be burdened with all household chores and there should be an equal distribution of work. Another beauty brand “Forest Essentials” portrays an advertisement that changes the way most mainstream media look at women as ‘objects of beauty’ and how women can be warriors.

While these advertisements are just the start to create a gender just society, we still have a long way to go. These advertisements will do little until the hierarchical status is removed from the grassroots. The advertising industry has the power in changing the mindset of the masses simply because it covers a wide base via its mediums. The segregation of gender and one more superior than the other has to stop since childhood. Also, there is a need for parents to understand how imperative it is to put both the sons and daughters at an equal pedestrian since birth.

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