I believe that one of the ways to know about a culture or a historical period in time is to look at commercial advertisement because it reflects the culture it advertises to. For instant, I have noticed that there are too many car commercials in France while in United Kingdom, there are more insurance commercials more than anything else. The customer’s background, judgment and psychology are important elements to construct ads; they are away of communication and persuasion.
When I watch Arabic Television all I see is very disappointing ads. Most of them are about home products where they portray a typical house wife who has nothing better to do than to compete with her neighbors in making her house cleaner. The other half is about the entertaining industry. Of course there are other ads about other things like cars; but this is not the point. What bothers me is the way the woman is portrayed in those ads.
The perfect house wife whose interest in life does not exceed a cleaning product or the latest brand of rice. There is nothing wrong with being the perfect house wife, and caring for your family’s well being. But it is demeaning the way they show women; as if they are not capable of doing anything more than cleaning and cooking! Not to mention the stupid language they use; as if they are speaking to a five year old. We need more variety; a different prospective.
I thought that this does not reflect the reality of women; at least in Qatar; I am sure they have more going on for them in their lives than cooking and cleaning. When I shared my thought with my dad he said “those are not just for Qatar, the whole Arab world watch them. You have millions of women who are not educated and all they know is cooking and cleaning. So it does reflect other’s reality, not necessarily Qatari women”. How sad, I thought. It is true that many people in the Arab world believe that women’s role does not go beyond the kitchen and bed room. Whose fault is that? It is the society’s fault? But the society comprise of men and women. So is it women fault because they accepted it?
Then I thought, what would happen if they put men instead of women in those ads? Would it help change how women are perceived? If people think there is nothing wrong with showing a woman cleaning a toilet or slaving all day to cook a meal; then why not put a man instead?
I would like to see women doing more sophisticated roles in ads, because just like how ads are inspired from culture; they can also influence it. So, if we keep sending different images of women other than the “cleaner, cooker, maid” type, people might actually accept it and unconsciously change their minds about what a woman truly is and capable of.
And what is up with “pads” ads! How embarrassing it is to watch one of those ads when you are sitting with your teenage brothers or father or uncle. We have no option but to buy these products, so why advertise for them so much! I remember once we were watching TV, and one of those ads came up. My little cousin asked “what is this?”. And didn’t stop asking until he got an answer from another child “its pampers for adults!”.
What a contradiction! We say we are a conservative community; and raise our children to know better than to ask questions about the other sex; how a taboo a woman’s body is. And then we have these ads playing between every show.
And why most of the ads are about consuming? Why don’t we have more educational ads. Am not saying there isn’t any; am saying there isn’t enough. Media is a powerful tool, so lets use it for something productive. I want to see ads that develop better awareness of health; recycling; education …etc.
I am talking about the Arab world, So don’t tell me “why accuse Arabs while west use women as sex objects in their ads” thats another subject !@#$%^&*()