Woe Is Woman
By Kamal Sunavala

Since I hold a keen interest in the morbid world of advertising, a friend kindly sent me a copy of the new Vodafone ad to hit the Czech market. The premise is this: a man is gallantly asking a woman's father for her hand in marriage. The father tells him to 'give her a trial-run', in the sense that he should see how she performs in the housekeeping department- cooking, cleaning, darning, that sort of thing- before he decides to marry her. Naturally, the ad neatly segues into the promo that Vodafone is offering its customers. Use the service for a month and purchase only if you are satisfied. Nothing wrong with the logic in the ad or the black humour. And I say this from an advertiser's point of view. From a woman's point of view I would have probably kicked my father and my husband-to-be where it hurts most. But then, that's me. Someone who actually believes that in extreme cases of insult, injury is warranted.

I believe and have indeed read, that certain sections have objected to the ad. They are screaming in protest against Vodafone and how demeaning the ad is to all women. The code of advertising ethics is clear- the popular swing of the day or the century is what they base adverts on. Naturally, criminal acts are not to be included in this consideration. The powers that be have consented that if enough formalised complaints reach them in this respect, naturally, the code will swing the other way. In the end, advertising is responsible for selling a product, without flouting laws. The fact remains that the dignity for women in public advertising doesn't fall under a particular law. It is more of a sensibility. The argument deepens into fundamental rights of speech and expression and trust me, as a lawyer, I know how convincing either side of the argument can be.

At the risk of being battered by the sisterhood, I have to say this:
Having lived in the Czech Republic, I don't see what the noise is all about. Women in general, with their fancy togs and shiny purses are no better in equality issues than the average Asian woman, who they consider themselves superior to. Are they really so different from someone who slaves on to take care of her family and doesn't really register the fact that a good laugh is had at her expense almost every day in every conceivable form of media. Adverts are simply one aspect of the leap onto this gravy train. Oh, these women all scream about freedoms and rights and equality and all sorts of protestations about being objectified. After all, it is politically correct to do so. What use is education if you cannot preach? How will you call yourself a modern, evolved woman if you don't object to being pegged as a glorified housekeeper in a short skirt? But little do they think that actions speak louder than words.

I am all for equality. But I would prefer to demonstrate it rather than yap endlessly about it. While I don't subscribe to the bra-burning section of women, I also don't subscribe to the section that sits back on its behind waiting for the man to take charge. And yes, even women who have a job fall into this category. When push comes to shove they fall into the willing arms of a man who will eventually extract a price for his caretaking abilities. I can already hear the screams and the protests but I submit this:

Is it not a woman who raises a man?
Is it not women who are larger in number than men? Then why are there more men in politics?
Is it not women who are responsible for silently supporting the image men have created?
Is it not women, who everyday, somewhere in the world, are afraid to fight?

Then why should we as women now object to this ad? Why should Vodafone not capitalise on our weakness and our stupidity? Why should they consider our feelings when we, as a whole, have proven, that we would rather let someone else fight our battles? As long as there are women in the world who are silent, whose actions contradict their beliefs, whose sons are raised to be like their hateful husbands and fathers, there will be ads like Vodafone's.

You lose the right to protest when you lose the will to fight.