INTRODUCTION also shows a helpline number for advice

INTRODUCTION

The
process of gender socialization begins from the birth and goes through four
major agents of socialization which are family, education, peer groups and mass
media. The mass media including television, radio, movies and the internet
serve as significant transmitters of cultural ideas about gender (Walters 1999).
The aim of this paper to understand the gender relations that are represented
in television commercials, to analyse how the women are portrayed in the
advertisement, to have an insight about the social structures and its dynamics,
to be able to relate the concepts learnt in class and analyse them with the
advertisement.

The
particular advertisement selected for the paper was produced by Jui, hair oil
company and the video has been shared as best ad on Facebook and received 4.3
million views and shared 45 k times. The ad begins with showing a beauty
parlour where a young woman waits for her turn while she watches a girl dressed
up for her wedding. As soon as the woman takes her seat the hair stylist
praises looking at her beautiful hair and asks what she would like to do with
it to which the woman insists to cut her hair short. After cutting a small
portion of her hair, the stylist says that long
hair looks good on her and layer cut would suit her but still, the woman
insists on cutting her hair shorter. The stylist asks her the same question in
order to change her mind multiple times but in vain. The woman’s face is drawn
and sorrowful and when her hair is short enough, her eyes gets filled with
tears. With an expression of anguish, she grabs a fistful of hair and says to
cut her hair so short that no one can pull it. The advertisement ends with a
social message which says,” Hair, the pride of a woman, Let it never be the
reason of her weakness” along with the statistics which indicates that every 80
out of 100 women face violence in some form or other in their lives. It also
shows a helpline number for advice and support. 

This particular advertisement has been selected to analyse and
understand how the roles and relationships of man and woman within a specific
culture or social group regulates according to the cultural and social gender
norms which governs what is or what is not acceptable and shapes the
interaction between man and woman and how often these traditional social and
cultural gender norms make women vulnerable to violence by intimate partners.

CRITIQUES OF THE ADVERTISEMENT

Advertising
is an important part of the marketing world for any business and now days the
display of gender roles is heavily used in the advertisements. To understand
these socially constructed patterns of  behaviour
a comprehensive analysis of the above stated advertisement has been done below.

Socialization and Internalization

“A
social institution that enables continuity of humankind, forms the first step
of the socialisation process, creates norms for social relations, transmits the
social culture to future generations, and that has biological, psychological,
economic, and judicial dimensions.” (Donmezer, 1999).

Gender
norms are defined institutionally and culturally, within a household a child
first learns about the gender roles, relating power and authority with
masculinity whereas inferiority and powerless with femininity. Boys learn to
exercise their power over girls and girls learn to obey the orders. Thus, from
the advertisement it can be assumed that the husband during his childhood might
have witness his father beating mother and acquired to commit acts of violence
against his own wife. Similarly, the woman learns to submit herself to the act
of violence and therefore bears the abuse in silence.

 

Passive Resistance

In
the advertisement, woman might not openly resist the abuse but she uses passive
resistance as the agency to fight against violence, her actions that is cutting
off her hair indicates that she won’t let the abuse happen on her anymore. Her
resistance shows the desire to live her life with dignity and self-respect and can prepare the woman to separate from her partner or
to raise her voice against the violence. Resistance has an important role to
play in feminist movement because the first wave of feminism evolved due to
resistance against the gender inequality and fighting for voting rights for
women, ownership of property, inheritance, education and opportunity to run
public offices.

Power relations between man and
woman

“The
use of term social structure is important here since it clearly implies
rejection of both biological determinism, and the notion that every individual
man is in a dominant position and every individual woman is a subordinate one.”(Walby,
1989).

Social
structures are governed by rigid patriarchal gender roles and women often have
to face the domestic abuse.  It can be
clearly observed in the advertisement that the woman is being oppressed by her
violent husband. The man plays the role of superiority whereas the woman is
inferior and considered as powerless which gives a chance to man to beat up his
wife. Even though the man does not appear in the advertisement but his
dominance over her wife can be clearly noticed from the fear that she has for
her husband.

 

 

 

Breaking the culture of silence

“These
patriarchal bargains exert a powerful influence on the shaping of women’s
gendered subjectivity and determine the nature of gender ideology in different
contexts. They also influence both the potential for and specific forms of
women’s active or passive resistance in the face of their oppression” (Kandiyoti,
1988).

When
a woman gets married she is expected to adjust with her husband and in-laws
therefore if she is being abused by them she bears it, silently. In the
advertisement, it is noticed that the woman has been abused by her husband and
she wants to talk about it to end the violence. And also one of the main
purposes of creating this ad is to address those women who face the burnt to
domestic abuse and speak about it as for help and guidance to get out of the
violence.

Personal is political

The
concept of personal is political came up during second wave of feminism to
address the condition of women which needed political action such as protests.
This concept can be related to family violence which is viewed as a ‘private
affair’ and not considered as a social evil. Thus, a woman is encouraged to
discuss her personal problems within the family household and not in political
sphere. Family which is considered as a place of safety becomes a place which
is subjected to exploitation, domination and violence for women and therefore,
raising consciousness about it is essential so that laws formulated .ie.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 can protect them from domestic
violence which is also seen that a helpline number flashes in the end of the
advertisement.

 

 

 

Consciousness Raising

In
the second wave of feminism, consciousness raising about patriarchy, ending
discrimination and violence was the primary concern as the women were not aware
of the institution of social oppression. This helped the feminists to
collectivise the women and carry out the movement. Here in the advertisement,
the woman chose a public place and tried to put forward her fear which the other
women in the parlour were able to relate to her immediately. She created
awareness about the oppression as well as about domestic violence among women.
It can also be observed that the actual aim of making this ad is to make people
aware about the severity of the social problem and effective implementation of
laws, support from non-government organization and self-awareness are required to
eradicate it.

CONCLUSION

“You
can tell the condition of a Nation by looking at the status of its Women.”   

                                                                                                              
–Jawaharlal Nehru

In
today’s India the conditions for women has improved but it is still a male
dominated country where women are considered as powerless and inferior. Women
are guaranteed equal rights and legal protection under the Constitution which
has limited effect where the patriarchy prevails. The media portrayal of gender
roles will always be significant in shaping the mind-sets of the people.