Shampa Dhar-Kamath News

Unfair treatment of the fairer sex

Irrespective of their height, women find themselves bumping their heads quite often—on the glass ceiling. The transparent, but super-strong barrier, pops up mostly at work, preventing women from movin

Published: 18th December 2016 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th December 2016 01:46 PM   |  A+A-

Irrespective of their height, women find themselves bumping their heads quite often—on the glass ceiling. The transparent, but super-strong barrier, pops up mostly at work, preventing women from moving up the office hierarchy. In some cases, it’s a very public bumping, like Hillary Clinton experienced in the US recently. Most offices see a less public but nasty version at play, like when an insecure male boss refuses to let a woman employee receive a well-deserved award or when a male staffer acts passive aggressive any time a senior, who happens to be female, asks him to do something.

In everyday life, the sexism is more turnstile than ceiling, with women having to negotiate carefully through the spikes of subtle slights and male chauvinism if they want to move forward without getting hurt. Sometimes though, men throw all subtlety to the winds, and with such élan that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Jack and Jones’ ad with Ranveer Singh seems like a mild misstep when you consider the recent campaign by a Polish public health department to get more women to undergo breast cancer screenings.

The ad makers, hoping to make men more responsible for their partners’ health, included them in the campaign and asked them to encourage women to look after themselves. It turned out to be a dreadful idea. Because the men only talked about what a welcome sight round/sporty/firm breasts were. One gent said watching breasts put him “in a better mood”, another that he liked to “watch them bounce when you run.” The ad concluded with an appeal to women to get tested for lumps and to massage their breasts regularly. “If you’re in need,” said one fellow, opening his arms wide, “I can help.”

This isn’t the first time that a Polish organization has resorted to unbridled sexism in its advertising. Some years ago, a cancer hospital in the country launched a campaign to convince employers to encourage female workers to have their breasts checked regularly for cancer. The headline was: “I check the breasts of my workers on my own”. Is sexism really so deeply rooted in society that even when men are trying to be helpful to women, they just end up being obnoxious?

In the UK, it’s a recruitment firm that’s contesting for the top prize in obnoxiousness. A job for a PA advertised on the website says candidates must be attractive, have long brown hair and “a B-C cup”. Another ad on the site asks for a “sexy female driver” with a flexible approach, to chauffeur a Porsche for a “flamboyant aristocratic figure”.

In a world where women are sending missiles to space, flying fighter planes, teaching men close-quarter combat, you’d think our days of condescending misogyny are over. But clearly not. Not when such ads continue to appear. Not when a man is chosen to head the ‘most powerful nation on earth’ after he’s been heard bragging about groping and kissing women. Maybe, we are in for a bad bout of Chauvinism Redux. Time to strap on your bulletproof bras, ladies.

Shampa Dhar-Kamath
shampa@newindianexpress.com

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