Generally, media plays a major role in shaping the collective consciousness of a certain society through its various tools, amongst them, is the advertisement tool and women’s bodies have always been the object of the media, by which marketers and the fashion industry “toy” with, to mentally influence the masses globally.
For example, in 1960s, Monroe’s vascular body was the optimum model, followed by the skinny body of the Victoria Secret angels’ women in 1990s such as those of Sheryl Crow and Heidi Klum, and currently the theme is the big butt of the Kardashians.
Now, consider the profits garnered by the beauty industry globally at the expense of the insecurities of women who look otherwise, than the marketed female look of the era.
Not only is the western media known to play with the mentality of the masses by objectifying women, but also in the eastern conservative world, such an issue is prevalent, and perhaps the aired Ads during Ramadan prove the suggested argument.
In fact, each year, companies surprise the audience by offensive ads with respect to women, conditioning them to certain gender roles and objectifying women to promote certain products; whether they make fun of women or tend to stress them out by overburdening them with duties such as “to be in shape”; a matter which has no equivalence in the Ads targeting men.
However, the question arising of the whole situation in the media industry is, if people surrender to the attractiveness of the media as their right, do the advertisements perform their role of spreading the awareness of their products, as their ethical duty?
In our article we have shed light on some malicious ads aired during Ramdan, and tend to promote harassment against women and link masculinity to sexuality.
Tracing the Word “Media” and its Obligation:
The word media is derived from “MEDEA”, an ancient Greek goddess who was a witch. MEDEA in the Greek mythology is associated with “bewitching people’s minds” and shaping their mentalities and destinies; therefore, it is justified that media is named after that goddess because the media has a spillover effect; once an Ad is aired, its effect cannot be retracted nor contained.
However, to control the media effect, the marketers have to be ethical and responsible enough to fully understand their mission, and the audience have to be endowed with critical thinking skills, to differ between virtue and vice in the Ads they see.
Therefore, if a certain advertisement supports harassment or even sends subliminal messages about that malicious behavior, people will unconsciously accept the behavior and perform it “normally”, so that it becomes a social norm.
Perhaps this is why three advertisements have been banned from being promoted during Ramadan 2016, for being “devastating” and “acting as a violation to our society’s norms”, as Ms Suzan Killiny – Member of the national council for women – declared.
The Aberrant advertisements which triggered a wave of outrage in the society:
Al-Dondoo… Sexual Harassment became the method to Market your product even if it’s through children
The controversial advertisement of “al dondoo” by Juhayna dairy products, reached 246,787 accounts, with 290,000 impressions, having 100 tweets per minute and 5K hashtags per hour!
Marketing-wise, the marketers of that product wanted to nationally “trend” the name “dondo” to ensure the profitability of their company because “labeling” sells in the marketing world, alongside associating the word to “women’s breasts”; therefore, it opened the door widely to use this word amongst men to verbally harass women.
The CPA “consumer protection agency”, banned this Ad, for including “sexual innuendos” and a “sluggish language” which is, worse, spoken amongst three toddlers; which subjects the marketers to “child violation of the standard specifications for an Ad”, based on the CPA ban statement.
Furthermore, this advertisement includes a misleading information, because it encourages artificial milk to natural breast-feeding one, and this is unwarranted, because breast-feeding is the surest way by nature, to ensure a child’s healthy development.
Perhaps the unforeseen effect, is that if the Ad had not been banned, the current generations would have developed physically unhealthy due to their reliance on artificial milk, and worse, engaging in sexual acts and relying on the use of “sluggish” language with sexual interpretations, such as having “dondoo” word as an eternal trend for verbal harassment referring to “women’s breasts”.
Cottonil Boxor…. Verbal Harassment….Ouhhh?!
Another controversial banned Ad which was either to be withdrawn or to face litigation against the violating companies, is Cottonil Boxor.
During one of the Ad shots, the narrator shouts “Ouhhh” sensationally, while a group of women are performing squat exercises and bending their hips in particular, which refers to another sexual harassment.
In a society by which men “objectify” women, and in a society by which sexual harassment against women is documented to be around 99% in total of both, the media has to be aware and cautious of the messages sent during airing those Ads,
rather than stipulating the notion, and further encouraging harassment, through their ill-mannered Ads.
“Birell” encourages men not to be ethical, to be violent against women and follow their masculine instinct!
Another message sent through the Ad of “Birell” is that drinking this product will stimulate one’s masculinity; again adding to the spectrum of societal misconceptions.
The beer company says that Birell is the masculine product, and defines Masculinity according certain attributes which include aggressiveness, toughness, affirmation, egoism and strength.
Another fallacy of that provocative out-dated Ad is that masculinity is not linked to manhood, because manhood is related to ethical acts implying responsibility, commitment, diligence, nobility and qualities of courage and strength rather than only limiting manhood to sexuality and manhood.
Daice Boxor….Not Accepting Infidelity unless buying the underwear..What a Script?!
The final 4th banned Ad is the “Daice Boxor” Ad, when in one of the shots, the female states that she “can accept anything even infidelity as long as her hubby buys her the underwear Daice”…what a script!
Numerous researches have correlated infidelity to the digital age, scaling infidelity rates between both sexes at a “rate which prior generations have never witnessed”, due to the digital world, whether it is “emotional cheating or even physical”, Mara Johnson writes in her article, that “fantasy connections through the media facilitated the family disintegration”.
The Societal Response to the Ads.. A National Divide
Various articles, in Al Ahram, and TV presenters, such as “Wael El Ebrashy” tackled the issue of the 4 mentioned above Ads, alongside Egyptian organizations, such as the National Council for Human Rights and the CPA which intervened to ban those Ads or subject the marketers to litigation, because such Egyptian companies “promote devastating societal impacts through harassment, sexism and gender segregation”.
On the other hand, most Facebook and twitter applauded the Ads “creativity and innovation”, especially regarding the “Dandoo” Ad which one claimed to have to be “inserted in the dictionary for its wide-usage”.
It has to be noted that as the media followers opinion have to be respected, also, they have to go beyond the superficiality of an Ad, because as mentioned earlier the media has an astounding power in shaping people’s mindsets; a matter which explains why media is named after the Greek “witch Medea”.
Until when shall women be Objectified?
This global issue has been tackled by various feminists and it is an ongoing debate with no end in the feminist thought. For example, Dr “Nawal Saadawy” stated that “both women whether they are fully covered in veil or wearing a bikini; both types
trace their actions to men, because a veiled woman fears men, while the one who wears a bikini seeks to attract men seeking their validation, hence no freedom is fully ascertained to women, yet”.
Nevertheless, the only difference between both societies; is that the western world culturally and legally respects women more than its eastern counterparts.