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By Prerna Grewal
Remember the Airtel advertisement that came out a while ago and faced criticism on the grounds of encouraging male and female stereotypes? The ad begins in an office where the wife is also the boss of the husband (no pun intended). As the boss, she leaves no stone unturned in overburdening her employee/husband with work. At the end of the day, however, her role as the wife takes over and all she wants is to spend some quality time with him. She goes home, cooks a lavish dinner and makes a video call, urging him to return home early.
One’s first reaction on seeing the advertisement would probably be a smile.Surprisingly, however, the advertisement has often been criticized as not being in sync with the spirit of feminism. Did feminists who found the advertisement problematic have issues with the depiction of a woman trying to strike a balance between professional/work and personal/domestic life?
Feminist or anti-Feminist?
A woman trying to strike a balance between professional and personal life isn’t necessarily doing it out of compulsion. Sometimes she might be doing something simply because she wants to. She cooks and waits for her husband to return so that they can enjoy the dinner together. She does not do it out of a sense of it being the “duty of the wife”. In the ad she perhaps isn’t even conscious of the fact that she’s striking a balance.
Earlier in this article, when the word role was used along with wife, it didn’t imply adherence to a specific set of rules that comprise being “the wife”. The word “role” could have been avoided altogether. But its usage is deliberate with the intention of justify its appropriation. At times, it becomes essential to drive home the point that not everything involves adherence to stereotypes
“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” – Simone De Beauvoir
What Beauvoir in her work referred to was the passive, receptive attitude that women are forced to internalize since childhood. She highlighted how their compliance was as responsible for thrusting “femininity” upon them as the patriarchal society.
According to Beauvoir, “To be feminine is to show oneself as weak, futile, passive, and docile”.
This definition of “being feminine” has been consciously molded by patriarchy through history. Beauvoir’s definition, therefore, comes both in acknowledgement of and in resistance to this fact. Today, women, by exercising their freedom and striving towards new heights are constantly enhancing upon this definition of feminism and adding to Beauvoir’s resistance.
In the advertisement, the woman is not just restricted to the role of a nurturer that Simone De Beauvoir traces in her book. The paradigms of becoming a woman today are changing and these changes also find manifestations in this ad.
Simone De Beauvoir is often referred to as one of the pillars of feminism who inspired generations. Contemporary feminists must continue the tradition but must also know where to draw a line. They must criticize but those subjects and situations which demand criticism. It will only validate the necessity and authenticity of the school of feminism.
Contradictions within feminism
At the Jaipur literary festival this year, a panel comprising of various eminent female authors highlighted how when women write about politics intertwined with romance, the work is usually deemed as a romance novel but the same isn’t true of a man writing in a similar way. This is a valid situation for feminists to analyze and comment upon.
Though the paradigms of becoming a woman are changing, these changes are gradual and far from being universal across all sections of society. It is therefore worth considering if the school of feminism is driven by the educated elite. While feminists take no time in creating a hype regarding issues concerned with the urban educated elite, how often do they discuss issues related to people not belonging to this class? Why don’t feminists generate a similar hype regarding the woman who comes to cook in the house of the educated elite? Isn’t she striving to strike a balance between her domestic and work life?
As opposed to the woman in the advertisement, do women belonging to sections other than the urban educated elite enjoy a similar privilege of not adhering to patriarchal dictates? For most, the question of performing out of compulsion or desire doesn’t exist at all. They aren’t conscious of an alternate choice. Shouldn’t one at least strive to make them conscious of this choice rather than generating unnecessary hype?
Even on a global level, Feminism has faced accusation of ignoring the plight of colored and non- Western women. Feminism therefore definitely began as an elitist school of thought. It’s only now that the scenario might be changing. But this change is still under progress.
The employee/ husband in the ad doesn’t display any discomfort or ego clash with the fact that his wife is his boss who gets to go home while he has to work overtime. Do all women, even those other than the urban educated elite witness a similar attitude and understanding by their husbands? For most cases, the answer lies in the negative.
Balancing the scales
Further, What if there was an ad that showed a man striking a similar balance? Again, not out of compulsion but because he wants to. Would feminists have indulged in over interpretation in that case?
If feminism is about equal rights and opportunities for both men and women then how many times does it address cases where men are being dominated over by women, by society, by patriarchal notions of masculinity and forced to adhere to ways of living that they don’t prefer? And in this case, is the name feminism in itself problematic? Or is it just about equal rights for women in context of men?
It is perhaps because of this and the tendency of certain feminists often going overboard that some people refrain from referring to themselves as feminists. This is probably what the Fault in Our Stars actress Shailene Woodley meant when she denied being a feminist. “I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance”. At the same time, it is important to remember that hesitation to use the term ‘feminist’ does not always mean a rejection of everything that the term signifies. Sarojini Naidu refrained from the tag of a feminist but contributed significantly to women’s progression.
Every child who grew up in the 90s and the early 00s has certainly grown up around Tom and Jerry, the adorable, infamous cat-chases-mouse cartoon. The idea of naughtiness and playing mischief had the standards that this particular series set for children and defined how much wreckage was funny enough.
The show's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera initially named their characters Jasper and Jinx. They did not plan for the fame that Tom and Jerry brought them when they released a movie by the name of "Puss Gets the Boot". This movie featured a certain cat and mouse who were a notorious pair, named Jasper and Jinx. When the movie became a hit, the names of the characters were changed and the show shot to fame.
Tom and Jerry became a go-to cartoon for children in the early 00s, and it was one of those shows with a firm foundation, that had already been in the running for decades. The original template had been planned nearly 80 years ago, and the makers did not change it. The music that was played in the many episodes, made a breakthrough in its own way. It is the most easily recognizable melody with utterly nostalgic associations.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons Image credit: wikimedia commons
A set of supporting characters were defined for the show, to occasionally take the focus off the original pair. There was a large, black woman named Mammy Two Shoes and a bulldog who took Jerry's side. Mammy Two Shoes was discontinued because her character portrayed racist tendencies. A tall white woman replaced her, who was kinder and loved mice. Either of the women's faces was never revealed.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons. There are a host of other shows besides this that aim to replicate the same aspects of the cartoon but do not come close at all. Despite the immense amount of violence in the show, it is a beloved pastime of parents and children alike.
Keywords: Tom and Jerry, Cartoon, Hanna and Barbera, Television
One of India's leading private museums, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Bengaluru, has released new primary research conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, on audience behaviour in India's cultural sector. While more than half of the respondents thought the arts and culture are essential, they rarely manage to make time for it. The majority (60.6 per cent), mostly young people under 30, felt Indian museums could present more engaging content, and most perceived culture as anthropological/ sociological. Of the diverse categories included, music emerged as the most popular cultural activity.
The report is based on a survey of 500 people, which included school and college students, professionals across sectors, homemakers and senior citizens. The first initiative of its kind in the cultural space, the report shares valuable insights into the behaviour and expectations of Indian audiences engaging with a broad range of cultural activities. As part of MAP's mission to foster meaningful connections between communities and the cultural sector globally, which includes its innovative digital programme Museums Without Borders, the report shares a wealth of insights that can help museums across the country understand their audiences better. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.
As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Speaking on the recent report, Kamini Sawhney, Director, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), said, "MAP is focused on changing the notion of a museum in India, by enabling more relevant and inclusive programming, both online and in our space in Bengaluru. The audience research commissioned by MAP, and conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, provides valuable, and actionable insights which we hope will help museums across the country better understand their consumer base, improve decision making and deepen social impact." As much as 62.3 per cent college students and 47.6 per cent professionals/homemakers perceive culture as anthropological and sociological. Music was the most popular cultural event likely to be attended, followed by heritage tours and plays/comedy shows for Indian audiences.
Over 70 per cent of college students visit museums with family and friends; working professionals, homemakers and senior citizens also predominantly visit with groups/ spouses (indicating a need to focus on increased group programming/facilitation). As much as 68 per cent of people were optimistic about going outdoors for activities and events in 2021. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.(IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Art, Culture, India, Museum, Music
What is the best way to save Goa from deforestation?
Drinking feni, may well be the answer, says the secretary of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association Hansel Vaz, who on Thursday said, that sipping the state's unique alcoholic drink and making it popular would directly aid the greening of Goa's hills and other barren landscapes.
"To get more cashews, we need to plant more trees. I always say, by drinking feni you will save Goa, because we will be planting more cashew trees and we will have greener hills. The beauty of cashew is you do not need fertile land. You can grow it on a hill which can provide no nutrition. We will be able to grow more trees, if we can sell feni properly," Vaz said. Vaz's comments come at a time when the hillsides of the coastal state have witnessed significant deforestation for real estate development and for infrastructure projects. Feni is manufactured by fermenting and double distilling juice from the cashew apple.
Best way to keep Goa green is to grab yourself a glass of feni. | IANS
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Vaz also said that the promotion of feni was also in sync with the Prime Minister's vision for India to go "vocal for local". "There is no conglomerate, multinational company owning the drink. So every time we sell feni, it is a direct cash injection into Goa. If you sell a feni cocktail in Calangute (a popular beach village), it makes a direct impact in Valpoi and Bicholim, because this money is going down there," the Association official said at a press conference in Panaji.
The Association held the media briefing to announce a road map ahead for the feni industry, especially vis a vis streamlining aspects related to production, standardisation and marketing of the brew to make it popular in other Indian states and abroad.
The efforts to streamline the state "heritage drink" comes a month after the Goa government notified a formal policy, 'Goa Feni Policy 2021', which covers 26 different varieties of feni distilled in the state. "There were many barriers related to feni, which the policy has now addressed," treasurer of the Association Tukaram Haldankar said. One such hurdle was the previous government classification, which described feni as "country liquor", which would deter tourists from purchasing the drink. The reclassification of feni as a state "heritage drink" has lent dignity to the brew which has been manufactured locally in Goa since the 16th century.
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. | Photo by Ishvani Hans on Unsplash
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. "We request the government to allow the sale of feni in duty free stores in airports and cruise liner terminals. The government should also support us through the department of Tourism, so that feni can be promoted in its programmes. iIf you go to Scotland, they promote Scotch. Goa should promote its feni to Goa," Haldankar said, adding that traditional distillers should also be given subsidies and other measures should be taken to standardise feni, which he said, "would require further subsidies and financial assistance from the government".
"It should be a standard product like scotch, champagne," Haldankar said. "Like Mexico's tequila, Russian vodka and Japan's sake, we need to export our feni across the country and the world and the local distillers should also benefit economically," president of the Association Gurudutt Bhakta also said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: deforestation,cashew,distillers,association,government, goa, feni, India