Washed, Spun and Dried by the Washing Machine!
It was a beautiful cold Wednesday. I was driving for a meeting in a great frame of mind with the best retro tracks on the radio. I had to travel 8 kms and it would take me more than an hour. My mood was so positive that even the nightmare Bangalore traffic didn’t dent it. From moving a few feet to not moving at all the radio shifted to the advertisements.
I was a little disturbed when one of the adverts finished playing. It was a washing machine Ad for Bosch and this is how it roughly went.
Man: “Hey is that my favourite shirt you are putting in the washer? I thought you would be hand washing it.”
Woman: “No, I’ve just gotten a manicure so I cannot hand wash it…” (WHAT?!!)
I don’t quite remember the details, but the ad went on to state that this new washing machine was so gentle that it was as good as washing by hand.
My question: Why does the woman have to have an excuse for not hand-washing the man’s shirt? Doesn’t he have hands that can gently wash his shirt that he is so particular about?
Miffed and bothered I got back home and tried to find the radio jingle, but I couldn’t. I found their TV commercial instead. Slightly different but still the same line of thought. BBDO Singapore created this campaign with Mediacom as their media strategists.
Gunjan Srivastava MD and CEO at Bosch states in an article by Brand Equity that extensive customer research was conducted, and this is Bosch’s way of trying to make the customer’s life stress-free and simple with no compromise on quality or performance.
Googling my way into the sexist avenue I was surprised when I found out that Bosch was doing this internationally!
This image was published under ‘Sociological Images’ that was published in thesocietypages.org in 2012. The Bosch Advert states “125 years of evolution” and has the washing machine evolving but the role of a woman depicted was stagnant. Evident that the makers didn’t see anything wrong in holding the woman responsible for washing over the period of 125 years!
I wonder what the reality is. I wonder how many marriages have been washed, dried and spun by the washing machine.
A very good friend of mine was in love for over many years and then finally decided to tie the knot 3 years ago. The wedding was a fabulous one – so much joy, fun, and laughter. After the festivities, we all went our own way and life moved on. Days, weeks, months…
Then one day I got a call – my friend was going to get a divorce!
After so many years of love and longing, the marriage hadn’t lasted a year. What went wrong? The reason is perhaps one of the most pressing issues in a marriage. The reason is one that is ailing our society.
So, as it happened my friend’s husband had certain expectations (certainly not evident to my friend when she was dating him). As my friend settled into her new home after the wedding she saw mounds of clothes appearing around the house. They were dirty clothes worn and removed and left unattended. They were meant to be picked up and put in the washing machine! – By whom my friend asked – the woman of the house of course – wasn’t it the wife’s duty? My friend refused to follow the role prescribed to women over centuries. Her husband just went on to buy new clothes instead of attending to the washing! The dirty laundry wasn’t going to be aired! I would probably understand if he were from a background that made it difficult to grasp gender equality. But no – I have to state here that he is very well educated and is very much a part of the empowered society.
Can it be that education cannot change what has been ingrained over the years?
Is the Indian father to blame? Most are not much of an example as they are absentee fathers. Is the Indian mother responsible? In many households, the boys are mollycoddled are let off without ever learning to look after themselves. The girls have to thanklessly do the chores that run a home while trying to study in a highly discriminatory society. Is society then accountable?
This incident is not an isolated one. It may seem trivial to many, but the idea of assigning the women the household chores run deep into the fissures of time. It was when the patriarchal society subjugated the woman and held her responsible the man’s well being. She had to cook for him, serve him, wash his clothes, get them ironed, get him ready for work, pack his lunch, give him his evening coffee, set his bath water to the right temperature, then made sure that the dinner was served hot. And finally after a gruelling day – she had to give him all the sex he wanted whenever he demanded because he is a man and it is his need.
I know of families in which the male members do not eat unless they are served by a female member of the family – and this is in 2018! All this because at some point in history our society turned its back towards women and the men assigned themselves the role of the providers and the women were left to do the household tasks.
It is unfortunate that the advertising agencies and the brands that have the ability to change gender perception still feel the need to follow the same stereotypical gender roles that our society is burdened with. Would they sell less washing machines if they had advertisements with a happy family where the household chores were shared?
We as a people, as a state, as a society and a country need to address gender inequality and blur the lines that have divided our society for centuries.