Media, specifically advertisements, have the greatest influence on our perceptions of men and women. Advertisers make use of the belief that men and women differ to create stories, conflict and persuasive imagery. This leads to different interpretations of the messages of advertisements by different segments of society.
Men are the protagonists and most of the heroes, while women are shown mostly in traditional homemaker roles. Advertising continues to reflect traditional gender stereotypes internationally. Globally, advertising shows that women are more likely than men to be depicted as dependent. Airtel Telecom Services has a campaign called ‘Boss’. This advertisement attempts to show women’s economic independence by portraying her as the CEO, who sets deadlines for employees and calls the shots in the office. The ad then shows a woman who is not demanding but caring, and she calls her husband to request his dinner choice. One would expect that telecom companies would make this situation a promotion for their services by showing her how to order food, pay bills, or anything else. However, the ad succeeds in highlighting the importance of cooking and taking care of your husband considering that both the men and the women have worked.
She is the stereotypical ‘housewife’ once she’s home. She doesn’t understand work pressure and begs her husband for his return. This suggests that her primary and most important duty, which is also connotated as ‘natural’, is to her domestic duties, which limit and confine her within the household boundaries (husband, children, and family). Simone De Beauvoir says, “One doesn’t become a man or woman by birth; and one isn’t born a male but becomes one” This is because she focuses on ‘becoming’ and puts her husband and kids above hers without considering or making any decisions for herself.
This advertisement, like many others, attempts to adopt a progressive approach to showing the women as boss and wife. But it promotes regressive values by making the female role the ‘wife’. This portrayal highlights the difference in how men and woman are shown. Most ads show male bosses being committed to their family by returning home on time for their child’s birthdays or remembering their marriage anniversary. However, a female boss shows her goodness by cooking dinner for her husband. To understand gender roles and the stereotypes perpetuated in advertisements, it is vital to analyse them.
Viewers are not required to question the significance of sexist images appearing in media. Advertisers employ a form of “consumer reality” to present images that appear real or believable. This is consistent with the expectation that men are the breadwinner. In addition, women are often underrepresented. This suggests that men are the culture and women have no importance.
Men are presented as strong, independent, courageous, powerful, sexually agressive and actively involved in human relationships. This is consistent with cultural views on gender. Women are depicted sex-objects who are dependent and often incompetent who are focused on their appearances, taking care people and the home. Media influence our perception of gender. They can misrepresent it and impact how we see ourselves. These stereotypical ideas have a major impact on the attitudes of young girls and boys. They also reinforce the stereotyped image of their future roles in society. Boys and girls both suffer from stereotyping.
The advertisement mentions a ‘work-life balance’, which is a hint at conservatism. It refers to the idea of maintaining a balance between work and home life. This can often lead to people asking who takes care of their children. Was your husband/inlaws able to allow you work? These and other similar notions are directed at women. These notions result largely from the perception that domestic work is not valued, or considered to be work at all.
Taproot, Taproot’s marketing agency, said that the commercial shows women having freedom of choice. This choice of ‘forced altruism’ is only possible when there are no other options or strong manifestations of these gendered ideas.
We all know that advertising and gender portrayals play a significant part of our daily lives. A concrete value-based system that leads to gender-based divisions and labor. These agencies must be sensitive to the social implications of media in modern times and make an effort towards creating ads that are gender neutral, taking into account other social conditions.