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Feminism & Chauvinism For Urban India
 

Feminism & Chauvinism For Urban India

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This paper tries to delve into the perceptions of the urban Indian youth to give insights to the Marketer.

This paper tries to delve into the perceptions of the urban Indian youth to give insights to the Marketer.

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    Feminism & Chauvinism For Urban India Feminism & Chauvinism For Urban India Document Transcript

    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of Urban Youth – A Marketing Context Utsav Chaudhuri PGDM (Communications) Batch of 2009
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of Urban Youth – A Marketing Context By Utsav Chaudhuri PGDM 2007-09 Roll No. 2007116B Submitted to Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad In partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Post Graduate Programme Diploma in Communications Management Dissertation Guide: DR. TATTWAMASI PALTASINGH ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR SARDAR PATEL INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RESEARCH 2 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri ©Utsav Chaudhuri, 2009 And Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA) 3 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Executive Summary The domain of marketing communications not only deals with effectively connecting the brand with its consumers but is also responsible in reflecting and shaping the perceptions of the consumers at large. In this thesis, I’ve attempted to see how we can harness the psychological as well as the social play in urban India in the domain of feminism and chauvinism – by studying the perceptions of urban consumers, particularly youth, as well as by analyzing the media’s role in this regard. This attempt intends to help understand the sensibilities of our subjects better and may shed some light on the moral and ethical issues as well as the acceptability and validity of various stereotypes portrayed in marketing communications. Besides secondary research, I’ve conducted primary research among 42 young men and women spread across more than 5 Indian cities to get the pulse of the urban youth. The research objective was to address the existing knowledge gap by attempting to understand the perceptions of feminism and stereotypes prevalent in urban India. The research attempts to study both the media and the message that may either reflect the existing perceptions or has the potential to shape them. The goal is to provide the marketers with updated literature which may help the brands understand the perceptions of its consumers better. The research reveals that feminism means equality of sexes for the urban youth. Women not only demand equality but also expect respect from men and want to be treated on merit and not be cowed down by gender issues. However, for many, feminism is more of superficial jingoism in the name of liberation as they continue to comply with traditions that repress the ‘fairer sex’. Today’s youth is in the transition phase where they are trying to shed their deep rooted chauvinism and be more liberal by adopting rationality and meritocracy. The Indian media widely uses stereotypes in their content. But research reveals that stereotyping does exist in real life too. The primary research does acknowledge the prevalence of stereotyping in the Indian society and also reveals the inevitability of it due to the very human tendency/desire to know (or perceive) about others as much as possible. It is not unethical for the media to reflect any stereotype that exists in the society. However, portrayal of certain stereotypes which are regressive for any gender can be avoided. Gender has been widely used in brand communications to achieve better segmentation and 4 targeting of consumers. In this paper, I’ve analyzed two brand communications – Fair & Lovely and Bajaj Pulsar – that have tread the gender line, to understand the implications of gender issues on brand health. Fair & Lovely clearly started off on the chauvinistic note by promoting Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri the stereotype of the woman requiring fairer skin to gain wider acceptability in a chauvinistic and patriarchal society. Although the brand has traditionally made profits, several controversies have dogged the brand’s communications. Women’s communities have vehemently protested against HUL promoting and reinforcing the ‘culture of fair skin’ and many experts felt that lightening the skin of women by a few shades doesn’t imply empowerment. Stung by the criticism from various customer segments, HUL has had to reposition Fair & Lovely as a ‘skin care’ product instead of a ‘fairness cream’ and the communications has been modified suitably. Bajaj Pulsar, on the other hand, successfully used the chauvinistic ‘Definitely Male’ themed positioning by reflecting stereotypes that unabashedly celebrated masculinity, without unduly offending women. However, Pulsar has voluntarily reformed its communications, away from the chauvinistic themes, to the current platform (Pulsarmania) that effectively highlights the product and reinforces the mini-cult that Pulsar is today. Thus we see that there is a thin line between being gender-regressive and cleverly differentiating a brand using intelligent communications that is sensitive to the social ethos. Marketing can’t be separated from social issues; as without a sound social structure, the marketing framework can’t be sustainable. When the fundamental truth – that customers are not just profit-centers but are people who constitute the society which is the universal set of all the ‘target segments’ – is appreciated, there can be a sustainable eco-system between the marketing function and the society. 5 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Acknowledgements I am grateful to Prof. Tattwamasi Paltasingh (Bali) for ably guiding my Dissertation effort. I also thank all my interviewees without whom my research wouldn’t have been complete. I dedicate this paper to my friends Samhita Mishra and Ramya M who not only influenced me to take up this topic for research but have also helped me in shaping up my thoughts on feminism and chauvinism during my two years at MICA. I thank both of them for guiding me throughout the course of my dissertation and providing quality inputs whenever I needed some. Last but not the least, I thank Prof. A.F. Mathew for the numerous intellectually stimulating discussions that I’ve had with him within and outside the scope of this Dissertation. His able tutelage and intellectual provocation has always helped me to challenge my own perspectives. 6 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Contents 1. Introduction................................................................................................................................8 1.1 Rationale.............................................................................................................................9 2 Literature Review ...................................................................................................................... 11 2.1 Feminism........................................................................................................................... 11 2.2 Feminism in India............................................................................................................... 13 2.3 Portrayal of Feminism and Women’s Issues in the Media ..................................................... 15 3 Research Objective.................................................................................................................... 21 4 Methodology ............................................................................................................................ 22 4.1 Research Design ................................................................................................................ 22 4.2 Sampling Plan .................................................................................................................... 22 4.3 Data Collection and Analysis ............................................................................................... 24 5 Research Analysis...................................................................................................................... 25 5.1 Feminism of Urban India .................................................................................................... 25 5.2 Chauvinism of Urban India.................................................................................................. 29 5.3 The issue of Stereotyping ................................................................................................... 32 5.4 Chaos and disillusionment of gender................................................................................... 36 5.5 Indian media and gender.................................................................................................... 37 5.5.1 Gender Stereotypes in Media ...................................................................................... 40 5.6 Gender and Brand Communication ..................................................................................... 42 5.6.1 The example of Fair & Lovely....................................................................................... 42 5.6.2 The Example of Bajaj Pulsar......................................................................................... 51 6 Interpretations and inferences ................................................................................................... 60 7 Bibliography.............................................................................................................................. 62 8 Appendix .................................................................................................................................. 63 8.1 Questionnaire for primary research .................................................................................... 63 7 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 1. Introduction Brands and products are devised around the associations they enjoy with their target segments. Brand communication personifies the product and provides the ‘connection’ between the brand and the consumer. For effective brand communications, a brand has to understand and tap the various values, attitudes, behavior and ‘ideologies’ of its target segment. In India, chauvinism is an attitude and a behavioral trait found in both the genders. Feminism borders around as an evolving ‘ideology’ of the urban India. A better understanding of these concepts, which are under constant flux, in the Indian context, will help brands communicate better through effective portrayal of the gender. To understand these concepts, I read numerous books, articles and papers providing various perspectives on these topics. This led to my learning of the history of feminism in the world as well as India. It also brought forth the evolution that has been taking place and the areas which have been left untouched and still follow typical stereotypes. The differences in the feminist issues globally are starkly different from that of India and the literature review tries to take in both the global and the Indian perspective to understand the commonalities and highlight the differences. It brings forth the fact that the manifestation of the known concepts can be very different when the Indian context is applied to it. Media is an influential tool to shape the beliefs, opinions and attitude of the Indian society. Again, media is the tool for brand communication. However, we must appreciate that media is only a vehicle used to communicate the message and may not be the message itself. The message has its genesis in the mind of the idea’s author. Therefore the media needs to be analyzed for its polymeric role of shaping and reflecting the perception of feminism and chauvinism of the urban India as well as understanding the genesis of the ideas pertaining to Indian feminism and chauvinism. 8 Understanding feminism and chauvinism as perceived by the urban youth of India today, requires delving into the foundation and history of feminism and stereotyping and the portrayal Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri of these concepts as well as the woman in the Indian mass media. We need to study the application of the concepts of feminism and stereotyping to the Indian context and the various manifestations thereof. 1.1 Rationale The domain of marketing communication not only deals with effectively connecting the brand with its consumers but is also responsible in reflecting and shaping the perceptions of the consumers at large. We must appreciate that the consumers are not a different entity from the society per se and marketing must empathize with the people as a constituent of a larger social fabric. When the fundamental truth viz. consumers are not just profit centers but are the very people who compose the society is addressed, we will successfully create a sustainable marketing framework. In coherence with the long term need for sustainable marketing as well as aiding brands to connect with their consumers more effectively, marketing communication takes the help of sociology as well as psychology in various ways. In this thesis, we attempt to see how we can harness the psychological as well as the social play in urban India in the domain of feminism and chauvinism – by studying the perceptions of urban consumers, particularly youth as well as by analyzing the media’s role in this regard. This attempt intends to help us understand the sensibilities of our subjects better and may shed some light on the moral and ethical issues as well as the acceptability and validity of various stereotypes portrayed in marketing communications. The dissertation attempts to bridge the knowledge gap which exists in understanding the conception of feminism and chauvinism in the urban youth of India today. The dissertation hopes to aid the marketers to not only be more effective in communicating their brands to their target audience but be more sensitive to the beliefs, attitudes and opinions of today’s dynamic 9 youth. This paper tries to highlight the role of the media and strives to achieve a deeper understanding of the genesis of the media’s message, thereby enabling a sustainable marketing Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri model that appreciates the ethics and morals involved. Although not the primary objective, this paper also provides updated information on the perceptions of the urban youth and hence may be of help for detailed urban sociological studies. 10 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 2 Literature Review 2.1 Feminism A popular definition describes Feminism as a discourse that involves various movements, theories, and philosophies which are concerned with the issue of gender difference, advocate equality for women, and campaign for women's rights and interests (Cornell, 1998).1 According to some, the history of feminism can be divided into three waves (Walker, 1992). 2 Feminists and scholars have divided the movement's history into three waves, so to say. The first wave mainly deals with the women's suffrage movements of the 19th and early 20th century. This period mainly focused on the woman's right to vote. The second wave comprises of the ideas and practices allied with the women's liberation movement that began in the 1960s. This liberation movement involved campaigning for legal and social equality for women. The third wave can be considered as a continuation of and also probably as a reaction to the alleged failures of second-wave feminism. This wave had its beginnings in the early 1990s (Krolokke & Sorensen, 2005). 3 In her book Feminism, Jane Freedman (2002) crudely describes the feministic problem as a debate over whether women should struggle to be equal to men or whether they should valorize their differences from men (Freedman, 2002). Delmar (1986) says “It is by no means absurd to suggest that you don’t have to be a feminist to support women’s rights to equal treatment, and that not all those supportive of women’s demands are feminist. In this light feminism can claim its own history, practices, ideas but 1 Cornell, Drucilla (1998). At the heart of freedom: feminism, sex, and equality. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Humm, Maggie (1992). Modern feminisms: Political, Literary, Cultural. New York: Columbia University Press (2006) Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus. London: Collins. 11 Humm, Maggie (1990). The dictionary of feminist theory. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 278. Agnes, Michael (2007). Webster's New World College Dictionary. John Wiley & Sons. 2 Walker, Rebecca (1992), quot;Becoming the Third Wavequot;, Ms (January/February, 1992): 39–41. 3 Krolokke, Charlotte; Anne Scott Sorensen (2005). quot;Three Waves of Feminism: From Suffragettes to Grrlsquot;, Gender Communication Theories and Analyses:From Silence to Performance (in English) Sage, 24. Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri feminists can make no claim to an exclusive interest in or copyright over problems effecting women. Feminism can thus be established as a field… but cannot claim women as its domain.” (As cited in Freedman, 2002, p. 3) Women in the industrialized world are exploited through what Mies (1986) calls ‘housewifization’, a historical process necessary for the growth of industry through which women were and are mobilized as the primary consumers of the products of this industry: “These two processes of colonization and housewifization are closely and causally interlinked. Without the ongoing exploitation of external colonies – formerly as direct colonies, today within the international division of labor – the establishment of the ‘internal colony’, that is, a nuclear family and a woman maintained by a male ‘breadwinner’ would not have been possible.” (As cited in Freedman, 2002, p. 55) Catherine Mackinnon (1982) argues that sexuality constitutes gender: “Sexuality, then, is a form of power. Gender, as socially constructed embodies it, not the reverse. Women and men are divided by gender, made into the sexes as we know them, by the social requirements of heterosexuality, which institutionalize male sexual dominance and female sexual submission. If this is true, sexuality is the linchpin of gender inequality.” (As cited in Freedman, 2002, p. 60) Enloe (1990) has paid close attention to the impact of colonization on women worldwide (as cited in Freedman, 2002, p. 83): “Colonized women have served as sex objects for foreign men. Some have married foreign men and thus facilitated alliances between foreign governments and companies and conquered peoples. Others have worked as cooks and nannies for the wives of those foreign men. They have bolstered white women’s sense of moral superiority by accepting their religious and social instructions. They have sustained men in their communities when their masculine self-respect has been battered by colonists’ contempt and condescension. 12 Women have planted maize, yams and rice in small plots to support families so that their husbands could be recruited to work miles away in foreign owned mines and plantations. Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Women as symbols, women as workers and women as nurturers have been crucial to the entire colonial undertaking.” 2.2 Feminism in India4 Circumstances which are peculiar to the Indian sub-continent makes women’s issues different from those prevalent in the West. The perception of “self” implies competitive individualism where “people are born free yet everywhere in chains”. Contrary to this framework, the individual in the Indian society is considered to be just one part of the larger social fabric, where the individual depends upon social cooperation and demonstrates self-denial for the greater good for the family or the society. The concept of the “powerful woman” is only accommodated into the Indian patriarchal culture through religion. This arrangement has retained visibility in all sections of the society, by providing women with established “cultural spaces”. Indian women have to negotiate, and sometimes endure, an assortment of oppressive patriarchal family structures like age, ordinal status and relationship to men through family origin, marriage and procreation as well as other patriarchal attributes - dowry, siring sons etc. - kinship, caste, community, village and the state. Maneuvering in the complexity of the Indian social structure and circumstances unique to the Indian woman, Indian feminist scholars and activists have had to struggle to define the nuances of feminism in India. However several communities in India, such as the Nairs of Kerala, some Maratha clans and some Bengalis 4 References Bhasin, Kamala and Khan, Nighat Said. quot;Some Questions on Feminism and Its Relevance in South Asiaquot;, Kali for Women, New Delhi, 1986. Chaudhuri, Maitrayee. (ed.). quot;Feminism in India: Issues in Contemporary Indian Feminismquot;, Kali for Women, New Delhi, 2004. 13 Kumar, Radha. quot;The History of Doingquot;, Kali for Women, New Delhi, 1998 Jain, Pratibh and Sharma, Sangeeta (ed.). quot;Women in Freedom Struggle: Invisible Imagesquot; in Women Images, Rawat Publication, Jaipur, 1995. Singh, Maina Chawla. quot;Feminism in Indiaquot;, Asian Journal of Women’s Studies. Seoul, 30 June 2004. Vol. 10, Iss. 2; 48. Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri exhibit matriarchal tendencies, with the head of the family being the oldest women rather than the oldest man. Sikh culture is also perceived to promote gender neutrality. (Singh, 2004) On careful examination we realize that India has multiple patriarchies and so there are multiple feminisms too. Hence feminism in India cannot (and should not) be confined to a singular theoretical point of reference; it has evolved in relation to historical and cultural realities, perceptions and actions of women, collectively and as individuals. The popular definition of feminism in the Indian context is quot;An awareness of women’s oppression and exploitation in society, at work and within the family, and conscious action by women and men to change this situationquot; (Bhasin & Khan, 1986). The logical way towards a society equitable to both the sexes will be to acknowledge the existence of sexism in our daily lives in the first place and then challenging and eventually eliminating it by deconstructing the mutually exclusive notions of femininity and masculinity as biologically determined categories. There is almost a stereotype of the male-female dichotomy in the Indian context, with the male oppressing the female at all times. This is not necessarily true because it was men had initiated reforms against various social evils targeted at the woman, in the history of India. Patriarchy is not the only form of hierarchy; relational hierarchies, where women of the same family are pitted against each other, are far more unpleasant. And as the relational hierarchy proves, not all women are exactly powerless at all times. Caste and community identities only intensify the other hierarchies. The polytheistic Hindu temple provides venerated images of women as unique but yet complementary to those of male deities. According to Narayan (1997), feminists in India have sought to address issue specific to Indian women (as cited in Freedman, 2002, Page 82): 14 “Issue that feminist groups in India have politically engaged with includes problems of dowry-murder and dowry related harassment of women, police rape of women in custody; Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri issues relating to women’s poverty, health and reproduction; and issues of ecology and communalism that affect women’s lives. Indian feminist political activities clearly make feminists and feminism part of the national political landscape of many Third World countries. I am arguing that Third World feminism is not a mindless mimicking of ‘Western agendas’ in one clear and simple sentence – that, for instance, Indian feminism is clearly a response to issues specifically confronting many Indian women.” 2.3 Portrayal of Feminism and Women’s Issues in the Media Ammu Joseph (2006) and Kalapana Sharma (2006) have analyzed the gender issues covered by the Indian media in the light of media globalization in their updated book (Joseph & Sharma, 2006). 5 They have tried addressing the new set of questions concerning women’s access to media and to information as users, their participation in media and communication structures and their portrayal and perspectives in media content. Joseph (2006) highlights the commercialization of International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day as an example of causes turned into occasions for celebratory consumption by the media. She critiques the portrayal of the woman in media today (p. 134): “Just as the media tend to celebrate individual women ‘achievers’ and generalize their accomplishments, they are apt to valorize individual women ‘survivors’ and gloss over the structural, systemic roots of their suffering. It appears that women have to be victims of heroines of success stories to be sure to catch the attention of the media these days.” Joseph (2006) links up Indian media, globalization and liberalization in the following way (p. 347): “…several of these trends were noticeable in the Indian press in the early 1990s, with the advent of economic ‘liberalization’ and globalization. They have subsequently become more pronounced and entrenched as the fruits of economic ‘reform’ began to benefit the burgeoning middle class and turn 15 5 Joseph, Ammu., & Sharma, Kalpana. (2006). Whose News? The Media and Women’s Issues. New Delhi: Sage Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri them into avid consumers of the growing range of products and services offered by indigenous enterprises and national and multi-national corporations. The media have been involved in this process as agents of change and they have, in turn, been recast by it. Perhaps, the most symbolic example of this symbiotic relationship is the link between the media and the beauty industry, which particularly became conspicuous through the 1990s. (Referring to beauty pageants and subsequent upswing of the beauty industry)” Some of the trends as perceived by Joseph (2006) are as follows: ‘Women’s issues’ are still, by and large, seen as narrow, niche issues and covered as such; some • – especially dramatic or lurid cases of violence or discrimination – continue to receive more coverage than other equally important issues. Serious coverage of significant gender related events/issues, when it occurs, is often lost in the • carpet coverage accorded to trivial pursuits. Blatant sexism and crude stereotyping are less evident but subtler forms – possible more • pernicious and effective – persist. Special pages for coverage of gender (and/or development) have disappeared, although a few • columns written from a feminist/gender perspective continue. The focus is primarily on individual women rather than on women as collective and/or as female • members of diverse communities with some shared experiences and concerns, needs and opinions. ‘Ordinary’ women and their experiences and opinions, are either missing or represented almost • exclusively by urban, middle class women. Socially, economically, geographically and other wise disadvantaged women and their • experiences and opinions are virtually absent. ‘Transnational Television, Culture Identity and Change: When Star Came To India’, by Melissa Butcher, constitutes not just of the history of the development of television in India, nor is it solely an examination of its impact. Melissa Butcher also studies the mechanisms of change 16 measured out in the continuity and disjunction of cultural boundaries. Focusing on young people who are often considered to be the most vulnerable to change or “cultural Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri degeneration”, she demonstrates that the resilience of youth is at times underestimated, as is the impact of other changes in India brought about by economic liberalization and state policies in areas such as education. ‘Media, Gender and Identity’, by David Gauntlett provides a new introduction to, and analysis of, the relationship between the media and gender identities today. From the time when numerous of the key texts on media and gender were written, a lot has changed. ‘Girl power’ has risen and better roles for women in TV and film have been created, whilst we hear that masculinity is ‘in crisis’. New identities abound, but some traditional images persist too. Within this landscape of complex media messages, there are individuals trying to establish their own identities, to feel comfortable in themselves and as part of society. Media influences are clearly subtle and indirect. David Gauntlett proposes a new route to understanding this, by providing clear chapters on theorists Anthony Giddens, Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, to show how recent ideas in identity negotiation and queer theory can be used to understand the place of popular media in people’s lives. Merging accounts of previous studies and theorists with all- new research and interviews, Gauntlett explores the gender landscape of contemporary movies and TV, and shows how a range of media - including men’s magazines, women’s magazines, pop music and self-help books - are used in people’s shaping of self-identity. (Gauntlett, 2002) Soma Chatterjee (2006)6 opines that while gender is often seen as a narrow, special interest issue, gender awareness can lead to a better, more holistic understanding of any situation: “On the one hand, by endorsing a few liberal reforms like equal pay, the media reinforces the message that women have every right to expect to be treated as equal citizens, with the same rights, responsibilities, and opportunities as men. On the other hand, by mocking and dismissing the way feminist activists look, dress, behave and talk, the media also endorses the notion that in some cases, female subordination and sexual objectification were not only fine but desirable as well. 17 6 http://www.indiatogether.org/2006/may/opi-potential.htm#continue Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri This contradiction, sanctioning the notion of women as autonomous and equal citizens while also endorsing the idea that women are around to be gazed at (advertisements, beauty contests, fashion parades, film), has lessened women's potential then and has the same effect today. Although the media did foster the spread of the liberation movement through its vast coverage, the media also hampered the movement's potential and women's potential as individuals by placing female attractiveness at the forefront.” (Chatterjee, 2006) Mallika Das published in the November 2000 issue of Sex Roles: A Journal of Research (Das, Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 2000) 7, shedding some light on the following areas: Changing male and female roles in Indian ads over the past decade • Changes in the frequency and visibility of men and women in Indian ads • Changes in the images of men and women and the evolution of stereotypes thereof • Necessity of media literacy for women and girls • The Sex Roles (Das, Men and Women in Indian Magazine Advertisements: A Preliminary Report, 2000) study compared the portrayal of men and women in Indian magazine ads vis-à- vis international media and advertisements. The similarities, according to the study, largely borne out by fact seem to be that 1. The general portrayal of men and women in Indian ads is very stereotypical 2. However, the stereotypes in India seems to be evolving and softening 3. In India, men and women appear in ads for different product categories, as is the case in the West. 4. For women, role portrayals seem to be influenced by the nature or category of the product. This is the case in some other nations too. 18 7 Full article: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2294/is_2000_Nov/ai_75959822/print Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri In case of male portrayals, the following major differences were found: 1. Men were mostly portrayed in athletic roles, as per a US study in 1997 (Kolbe & Albanese). However, this study observed that only 11.4 per cent of Indian advertisemnts showed men in such roles. This proportion was less than 9.5 per cent in previous periods. 2. Men are not portrayed in negatively in Indian ads, although they appear in a traditional manner. This is opposed to international findings, where male portrayals have changed less compared to female role portrayals over the past few decades. Two major differences in female role portrayals were noted: 1. The Indian ads are devoid of some very commonly used stereotypes of the western advertising media. For example, women in Indian ads were more likely to be portrayed in ‘neutral’ or ‘other’ ways and less likely to be portrayed as sex objects, unlike many American and English advertisements. Women modeling for mobiles, automobiles, pharmacy or FMCG act as protagonists and carry neutral portrayals. Indian ads are also less likely to depict women in quot;dependencyquot; roles as compared to British ads. A point to note is that that these results are similar to those of Korea and Japan where, again, females were less likely to be portrayed in negative and stereotypical ways vis-à-vis the West. The religious and cultural differences between India and western nations may very well account for these contrasts. 2. The polarized portrayals found in the West – a tendency to portray women in dependency and housewife roles and in nontraditional activities, career-oriented, and authority figure roles (in English print ads) – was not found for India by Das' study. 'Polarizing' implies strong opposite portrayals whereby one woman is shown driving all alone with a confident expression on her face juxtaposed against the image of a woman sensually posing for some cosmetic product or vouching for the advantages of 19 children’s’ health drinks. Although the trend in India is to seldom portray women as housewives or someone concerned about their looks, even the nontraditional, career- Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri oriented, or authority figure roles are rarely highlighted. Instead, there seems to be an increase in gender neutral portrayals of women, partly attributable to the dramatic increase in advertisements for such products. 20 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 3 Research Objective The literature review brought forth the knowledge gap existing in the perception of feminism and chauvinism by the urban Indian youth, who are the target audience of many brands. The dearth of literature on the perceptions of the urban youth as well as the role of the Indian media in shaping and showcasing the stereotypes of the 21st century society represents this knowledge gap. Sustainable marketing is possible only through holistically understanding the society and addressing the need gaps in a manner compliant with the existing and evolving sensibilities. Thus the research objective is to address the existing knowledge gap by attempting to understand the perceptions of feminism and stereotypes prevalent in urban India. The research attempts to study both the media and the message that may either reflect the existing perceptions or has the potential to shape them. The goal is to provide the marketers with updated literature which will help the brands understand the perceptions of its consumers better. The research also seeks to provide updated information on perceptions of urban youth, which can be used for further sociological studies. 21 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Methodology 4 4.1 Research Design The research involves primary as well as secondary research. The primary research is qualitative in nature with In-depth interviews. The secondary research includes analysis of mass media namely TV, Print (newspapers, magazines, books) and advertisements. 4.2 Sampling Plan The primary research involved interviewing 42 candidates. The demographic profile of the sample interviewed is as follows: Respondents' city 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Mumbai Delhi/NCR Ahmedabad Chennai Chandigarh Others As per the requirement and scope of the dissertation, the sample (candidates) has been chosen from the major cities of India. The sample also included few candidates from Tier II cities like Pune and Nagpur and one NRI from Come, Italy. Since the objective of the dissertation is to focus and analyze the views of the youth, the age profile of the sample is 15 to 26 year olds, which represents the college-going students and also the working professionals who are into their early career stage. 22 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Age Profile Sex Profile 40 34 35 30 25 20 Male, 1 9, 45% 15 Female, 10 6 2 5 23, 55% 0 15 - 21 years 22 - 26 years Above 26 years The sex ratio of the sample is almost even, with a slightly heavier female population. More women candidates have been selected in the survey sample to help understand the perceptions of women and their social status in greater detail. Occupational Status 14, 33% Student Working Professional 28, 67% The sample population has a bias towards the students numbers as the student bracket represents the lower age group which are not only major consumers but are also great influencers in their family and peer group. The working population sample has been kept young to ensure that the thought and views derived are those of the opinion leaders of tomorrow. 23 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Annual Household Income (lakhs) 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% <2 2 to 5 5 to 8 8 to 12 >12 As the household income profile of the sample shows, the candidates selected are from (urban) SEC A1 and A2 (Market Research Society of India, 2009). The candidates being from the highest SEC, these youth are at the edge of new social developments and are exposed to the greatest and newest variety of media. This SEC also interacts with brands at a large scale, contributes a good chunk of revenues to many brands and they are very opinionated about their brand perceptions. 4.3 Data Collection and Analysis The research includes information compiled from in-depth interviews. The interviews were guided by a questionnaire and also included screening of two TV commercials. The ‘Probing Technique’ has been used in the in-depth interview to gain insights. The research data has been analyzed under different ‘headers’ in compliance with the scope and objective of the dissertation as detailed in the next chapter. 24 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 5 Research Analysis 5.1 Feminism of Urban India The meaning of feminism in urban India can stretch the limits; limits that all of us may not think of. Feminism of the present urban and rural India is very much different. Even in the urban variety there are extremes and everything in between. One of the contemporary women bloggers in India, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, packages these feminisms of urban India ‘boldly’ in her book ‘You Are Here’. One of the characters in her novel, 25 year old Arshi, represents one facet of feminism in the current urban generation – a composite of the young, educated women whom you meet by the bunch today in Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. (Madhavan, 2008) Arshi is the representative of the segment of young women who smoke, drink and fornicate their way through urban life and treat men as the emotional and financial umbilical cord. But if liberation is sweepingly defined as the freedom to do whatever men do, and to form the woman’s identity through her relationships with other men, then Reddy Madhavan's heroines are less liberated than they think. Although Arshi portrays the dualities that the urban Indian woman straddles, she would’ve been a true feminist only if her identity would’ve been independently defined without the construct of her relationship with her man. Was Arshi an Indian version of Bridget Jones Diary? Well, for the West that saw feminism originate, evolve and outgrow into post-feminism, breaking of the male hegemony is a logical and sequential construct that has slowly developed over decades. But an India, without an organized feministic revolution in the past, leap-frogging straight into post-feminist way of life is unsustainable due to lack fundamentals. Although Indian history is replete with examples of the woman warrior waging social battles for the general good of untouchables, landless or even Hindu/Muslim, there has never been a holistic feminist movement that has been path-breaking. Urban feminism has been constituted by compromise and hypocrisy. It has been demonstrated 25 by daughters ‘fighting’ with parents to extend the nocturnal outdoor deadlines but not daring to challenge the social structure by marrying a man of a different religion. This ‘liberated’ Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri woman, who is financially independent, will surrender to the man at night and will privately cope with the phenomenon of workplace harassment but will never dissent this systemic decay. Many of my friends who are very feminist in their thoughts and opinions perfectly conform to their gender roles in their own families. So the woman invariably takes up the role of being the more nurturing partner who takes his care when he is sick and also cooks food and does the cleaning. These ‘progressive’ women probably conform to their stipulated gender roles to a great extent to avoid being left out alone in life. When we look at the rural Indian woman’s journey post Independence, one can’t help but feel that Indian feminism and liberation is beyond sex, cigarettes and alcohol attributable to Arshi’s urban demographic. One comprehends the scope of liberation of women in India when we see millions of near-impoverished women in villages joining micro-credit cooperatives, handicraft- making networks like the Self-Employed Women's Association and village council electorate. Subdued and abused wives transforming into go-getters, turning male regimes on their heads is truly awe inspiring. But because these women are not the eye-candy that the media seeks, they are clearly not as liberated as their urban counterparts. What does Feminism mean to you? On being asked this question, most of my respondents, men and women, didn’t know what to answer. Their faces had quizzical looks as their minds were probably trying to remember what their textbooks used to say about feminism. Or perhaps some film they’ve seen or some article or book they’ve read. But for a generation which has been termed as the millennials – people born after 1980 who have grown up with the personal computer and have picked up the convenience of the internet on their way to adulthood – concept of feminism gathers dust in their heads in this consumption driven economy. Wasn’t girl power the norm now-a-days? Weren’t a plethora of products addressed at the woman empowering and liberating them? Clever marketers were talking to this generation 26 simultaneously, perhaps more engagingly through various media, along with their parents and the formal education. Apparently not much thought was invested in understanding the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri feminism or chauvinism of the society around us. We live in our own stereotypes and these are our comfort zones. It took some shaking up to get the respondents out of their comfort zones defined by their urban youth stereotype where equality of the sexes was a given, at least at the superficial level. A majority of the women I interviewed believed that feminism is a concept that strives to make the female equal to the male. As one of my female respondents put it, “…it's a freedom movement against patriarchal society and an attempt to provide women will all the opportunities to help them develop and realize their full potential without being ostracized”. But there are neutralizing (female) voices that add a dash of rationality to avoid pure jingoism in the name of feminism and women’s empowerment – “Feminism is a school of thought which fiercely supports the way women feel and think even if it is negative. It is a belief that women possess equal political, economic, sexual, intellectual, social as well as property rights as men do. Women should be and are equal to men in all the spheres of life. But unfortunately a large portion of feminism is being practiced in India by those women who are already empowered and have choices in life. Feminism should be practiced in a positive way.” The woman is not afraid to concede her shortcomings. She accedes to instances where she uses feminism only to win over or downplay the other gender – “Supporters of females… most times against males; (feminism) wants women to be dominant and (women) can go to any extent to prove themselves”. The rationally tempered thought process of today’s youth is what makes me believe that India will transcend most of what ails her today. As was evident in my interviewing experience, the young Indian woman not only expects to be treated equally but also feels that they deserve the respect that was erstwhile reserved for the male gender. Of course there are sentiments of feministic hardliners in some of the interviewees – “A woman who is proud of who she is… has her own point of view… is not blindly submissive and knows 27 that she has the same rights as a man and asserts those rights when required.” Somewhere you can also sense a tinge of aggression in the educated and/or ‘liberated’ woman when she not Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri only believes that she is equal or better than the male but is always on the verge of asserting her equality. One of the respondents believed that feminism shouldn’t be restricted to the issues of women as it encompasses more. She made one of the most insightful statements when she quipped, “Feminism is most usually defined as being pro-women, but I guess in a broader sense, I'd use it to include being pro-gender (so, women or homosexuals) and pro-oppressed (who're usually either poor, are women or are homosexuals).” Indeed this is the feminism that the rural woman has started to demonstrate with their active participation in various cooperatives and, perhaps, they are working progressively towards their individual and collective liberation in the true sense – an aspect not always demonstrated by their urban counterpart. Not all women are opinionated on the subject of feminism. Nonchalance is visible when some women commented, “(Feminism is) just complicating everything in life… maybe we should really not think so much… just let it be…” 28 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 5.2 Chauvinism of Urban India Some of the men believe that feminism means freedom for women. This progressive lot believes that chauvinism is ‘assholism’. Even if this lot is consciously or unintentionally chauvinistic, they are at least ready to be pointed out of their chauvinistic traits and are willing to take corrective action based on logical wisdom. Then there are the men who understand the concept and significance of feminism but feel that women have construed it incorrectly: “Normally it is associated with male bashing.....but it is a movement for breaking the gender stereotypes and the mind constructs.” Somewhere some of the respondents were either affected personally or were pained to see the interpretation of the concept of feminism in the media: “Feminism is an ideology which aims to alleviate the status of women in the society. Feminism challenges patriarchy and believes in equal rights for men and women. But the sad part is that many people gets anti-men when they demand gender equality. I do support feminism and non discrimination, but men shouldn’t be punished for being men. If we talk of equality it should mean real equality.” The use of ‘people’ (and not women) for the practicing feminists in the above quote is noteworthy. At least in this case, the male respondent doesn’t restrict his disappointment superficially to the women alone but comments on all the practicing feminists irrespective of their gender. One of the respondents puts it down very matter-of-factly at the practical level: “(being) aware of your own gender and (being) proud of it; but that does not mean u get it by male bashing… should be confident of one’s self…” But there are times when the Indian male is cautious and is concerned of the feasibility of the application of feminism in the day-to-day life: “Feminism is… to believe that the female is in no way inferior to the male... even if it may be impractical at times…” Chauvinism, as compared to feminism, is vague in the urban minds. Most of the respondents were of the consensus ‘anti-female’ is chauvinism. For most women, “chauvinism is usually 29 used in conjunction with men” and is “male dominance and stereotyping of women”. As one lady said, “Chauvinism is the attitude wherein people are overly protective about the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri superiority of their kind over others and also promote their own interests. Aren't the words male and chauvinism generally used together - Male chauvinism is the only thing that comes to my mind when I think of chauvinism!” and there is another describing it as “the male (ego) power trip”. For some, chauvinism is the systematic treatment reserved for the women, which the society applies consciously or unconsciously: “(Chauvinism is) the belief that men are better than women in certain things only because they were born with quot;XYquot; chromosomes… the differential treatment given to women only because they are women and different expectations from men because they are men. For example - It is not ok to carry heavy bags if it is a woman, even if she is physically capable of doing it. But the same offer is never made to men. It is not ok for men to cry in public even if in pain, while the women can do so. Making crying which is actually a good way to release stress a weakness, and add guilt factor to it for both genders.” An interesting insight coming out of the example of the baggage quoted above is that the man is seldom offered to share the luggage with either another man and (more rarely) with a woman. This gives us a lead as to how chauvinism, if assumed to be an ailment, can infect both the genders. As one of the female respondents quipped, “…it is a prejudiced belief or unreasoned support towards a person, party or idea.” This transcends the discussion and doesn’t restrict the concept to one of the genders. So sometimes it can be “an irrational allegiance towards any one group”. So there are people who think “chauvinism is where there is a strong hatred and malice towards the other group; the hatred is extreme and has no rational sense behind it.” So there are women who see chauvinism beyond the man-woman equation and acknowledge it as an endemic systemic problem. So when a woman says that “(chauvinism is) being extreme and unrealistically”, the shortcoming of both the genders is highlighted. One of the ladies eloquently put it to me: “Chauvinism, I think, is the belief that ‘I 30 am all important… without me, you are nothing’. I don't think its gender specific. Anyone who believes that his or her existence is indispensable is, I think, being chauvinistic.” Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri There is of course the ‘instant coffee’ kinds. So when a woman says that “It depends on the situation… if we are getting benefits from this so better to go by this...”, I leave it to the discretion of the audience to decide the ‘chauvinistic quotient’. But I think that this segment of women is more bothered by the practicalities and chauvinism (or even feminism) is almost a mean to an end. In my opinion, from what I derive out of observing the World around me, the majority falls into this segment. For men it is comes naturally to be in this category. This segment being the largest, people like the one quoted, find it easy to find acceptance with the ‘majority’. As more and more people join the majority, the majority is only reinforced. This segment, consisting of ‘convenience people’, if I may put it that way, is also represented by Arshi, Reddy Madhavan’s novel character that I had described earlier. They will be chauvinistic feminist on the whole – donning the garb of feminism but subconsciously practicing chauvinism at some level for various reasons. 31 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 5.3 The issue of Stereotyping The issue of stereotyping is almost intertwined with the issues of feminism and chauvinism in India. Most agree that stereotyping is prevalent and probably even unavoidable. As one of my male respondents put it, “(Stereotyping is) assuming and judging before knowing and not trying to understand”. He even conceded that his friends definitely do stereotyping and sometimes even he does it. According to him, stereotyping is sometimes conscious and at other times is at the subconscious. He also feels that there are stereotypes in media but there is no ‘right’ stereotype. Another male respondent willingly agreed that he stereotypes: “… I do (stereotyping)… for example I can tell if the car is being driven by a lady from 300 m away!” Many of my male respondents are aware of their tendency to stereotype and attribute it to the upbringing through the family and society around: “Stereotyping, to me, is 'attribution of characteristics' without much knowledge. It is being judgmental about something without knowing much about it… Yes a lot of my friends stereotype men/women… Sometimes I also do the same as I am a part of this male-dominated society and have been brought up in this environment.” Another male respondent brings out the convenience aspect of practical stereotyping: “…for the sake of convenience, bringing out the idiosyncrasies of a race, section of society etc. And yes, even indulging in it… (Yes, the world around indulges in stereotyping) from hostel-mates to Russell Peters.” One of the male respondents says that they are aware of their shortcoming (stereotyping) and either avoid using it or use it judiciously (knowing that it can be very wrong): “(Stereotyping is) putting things into black and white… fitting things into predefined mental boxes!! Yes some of my friends do… but thankfully majority has been through this and is friends for last 20 years and gender really is incidental for us.” According to him, the idea is to be aware of indulgence in stereotyping – if one is aware that he is stereotyping then the chances of having an open mind is more. A male respondent turned the tables by saying, “(now-a-days) men are stereotyped to be chauvinists and females as feminist”. 32 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri A lady was quick to point out to me that stereotyping can also be a function of memory and experience: “Although such behavior may qualify as stereotyping, we do expect a particular gender to behave in a particular way based on our observations and cumulative memory. For e.g. I’ve found men to be more tech savvy than women. If I assume this observation to be somewhat true for my future purposes, I may be indulging in stereotyping. But every time I see another man being more tech-savvy than a woman, my ‘stereotype’ gets reinforced”. Another woman pointed out to me that stereotyping is almost an answer to the basic urge of people to know more about other people: “Stereotyping would be to assign certain behaviors to particular social roles. It would basically mean to generalize for the benefit of predicting someone's behavior. People always have the need to understand others, etc. Without stereotyping, our understanding of others would become extremely difficult. Hence we do it all the time. And yes, my friends tend to do the men/women stereotyping a lot.” Most of my respondents don’t regard stereotyping per se as evil. They almost regard it as inevitable. However, some of them expect people to realize when they indulge in stereotyping so that they are not overtly judgmental over things and people, as this lady says, “When you generalize behaviors, and say it is typically male/female/Indian/rural/urban. It is prejudice and construct of behavior as we believe it to be. Quite often my friends stereotype people; though, sadly, most of them don't even realize when they are doing it. It has become part and parcel of the system.” The inevitability is being attributed to the lack of time to know-it-all by one of my male respondents: “I don't see any substance in the concept of the stereotyping... everyone knows that every person is unique in some way or other but we always tends to generalize situations and people on the basis of our beliefs and attitude. You might call this concept as stereotyping or experiential inferences. After all the life is not long enough to judge every person as a different individual being, which is just an ideal case.” It is also interesting to know how one of my female respondents assumed stereotyping to be wrong: “Stereotyping is a 33 system where there are generalizations and assumptions, that people make about the characteristics of all members of a group, based on an image (often wrong) about what people Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri in that group are like. Yes, in certain ways they (people around) do (stereotype)… in fact at times even I end up doing that but do feel guilty later on and try not to do it again in the near future.” Some respondents attributed validity to stereotypes. As one of the female respondents puts it, “Stereotyping is putting a person into a particular mould and judging him/her based on the traits of that mould. For example, all south Indians are dark skinned. Unfortunately, stereotypes are true no matter how much you try to brush them away and that's why they exist. Yeah, men and women are stereotyped.” Whether stereotypes are right are wrong is a subject of eternal debate. However, in my opinion, stereotypes are created by two sources – one is the education given by the family, society and the ‘system’; the other source is the self. Every observation is recorded in the mind and played in the background when something similar is observed. The former source always helps to create the mental bias towards observing a particular event in a particular light. These two combined forms the stereotype in our mind. I can elucidate the idea by mapping my thought process that leads to my stereotype of women not being able to carry heavy luggage – my upbringing has somewhere instilled ‘chivalry’ in me. This is a function of my social conditioning. Every time I see a fellow lady traveler struggling with a heavy bag and then looking at me hoping for help, my stereotype gets confirmed. I know that there are women who are physically strong to carry heavy luggage. But majority of women I have come across struggle with heavy luggage and somehow seek male help – either from family or friends and sometimes even strangers! So this is how my social education of ‘chivalry’ cohorts with my personal observation and memory tends me to think that I should offer help to ladies carrying heavy luggage. Ignorance was bliss once upon a time. Now it is dangerous not only to the self but also for the 34 society. Some men and women weren’t sure what constituted chauvinism and stereotyping. However, in this ignorant lot, most people however vaguely related feminism to being pro- Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri women, and sometimes anti-men. It will be hard to believe that they don’t know of chauvinism and stereotyping because they don’t indulge in some. And if the assumption of they practicing chauvinism and stereotyping is correct, it is appalling to learn how deeply chauvinism and stereotypes are entrenched in their psyche at the subconscious level. 35 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 5.4 Chaos and disillusionment of gender Some of the women interviewed believed that feminism, somewhat rightly, preaches the superiority of women to men. They believe that they are “better than men in most aspects”. As if an answer to this jingoism of feminism, Indian males have created walls that prevent their minds to see the other side. So I am not surprised when none of my male respondents wanted elevate the female over male – it was only giving equal status to the female. The status quo was as if the women were being ‘uplifted’ to the position of men, the ultimate status, and no more. The Indian man conveniently perceives feminism as the anti-male instead of the pro-female. In my opinion, Indian feminism should be an effort to equate the genders. For the woman it should be the belief of prospering alongside, and not through, the man. For decades, the Indian male has (inappropriately) acted superior to the female. As a result there has been gradual decomposition of the Indian woman’s life. Oppression gave rise to rebellion of varying magnitudes in different sectors of the Indian society. However, if I may take the liberty to define this rebellion as feminism, it would be a disservice to feminism if used to preach the superiority of the female over the male, instead of equality. The ‘superiority-game’ is a zero sum game which will be perpetually on, unless the final objective is identified as achieving equality of the genders instead of establishing superiority of one gender over another. For the social eco-system, consisting of the man and the woman, the gender politicians must understand that each sex has limitations in their psychology. There can never be one unified theory encompassing both the genders – feminism or otherwise. As physics demonstrates, the atom has protons and electron of opposite charges. Hence they attract and co-exist in the atom. Electrostatics doesn’t allow entropic harmony between like charges – a system of likes (same charges) is inevitably unstable. The responsibility of the gender politicians is to ideally act as the neutrons of the atom – pacifying, moderating and maintaining the harmony between the proton and the electron, represented by the two genders. 36 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 5.5 Indian media and gender When a child is born, it does not have the choice to select its sex. Little does the child know that it’s not merely sex but an inevitable gender (social) issue for the rest of his or her life. The child is conditioned right from the beginning to believe that Dad is the male parent and Mom is the female parent. From there on the social construct of gender begins to take root in the human mind. Media plays a significant role in constructing the male-female equation in the mind of individuals. Besides the mass media – TV, print, radio, cinema and now the internet and mobile – the formal education system are the other direct influences in forming gender stereotypes in the human mind, apart from the upbringing by the family and society. Hence it is important to understand, analyze and comprehend the gender portrayals in media. To limit the scope of discussion, we shall consider only advertising media and to some extent other broader mass media like TV and print. When asked about the gender portrayals in mainstream media, respondents have felt that the media has been traditionally using stereotypes. However, with the rise of new media like mobile and the internet, there is a lot of interactivity. Initially, in broadcast and print media, the audience was talked down upon by the authors. Interactivity has placed the power to comment on opinions in the hands of the audience. So suddenly the mute audience has been empowered to decide the right or wrong, with great speed. So if there is an opinion which is not liked, the audience can easily throw e-rotten tomatoes at the author. This feedback mechanism in the new media lends a lot of credibility as, like the normal distribution curve, errors and misinterpretations gets minimized through active audience participation. On being asked whether media uses stereotypes and to what extent, I got colorful responses. One of the respondents felt that stereotyping is especially heavy in entertainment media: “stereotypes do exist in media, especially entertainment media… some examples are, in 37 Hollywood, criminals are generally black (wrong stereotype)”. The respondent further opined that the entire concept of TG, in media and otherwise is based on concept of stereotyping: Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri “Segmentation is nothing but a stereotypical representation of a certain section of the society”. Another respondent pointed out that representation of certain ethnicities in movies, ads or television soaps is an example of stereotyping and takes the issue beyond that of the gender: “…one of the major such stereotypical representations is the portrayal of Parsis in popular media”, she quipped. Some of the respondents came up with very clear examples of such stereotyping – the portrayal different family characters, say the saas and bahu are very stereotypical. Some respondents were very vocal to point out that the saas-bahu stereotype is not widely applicable as the average saas or bahu is happy to make the ends meet and has no energy or time to hatch conspiracies that are shown on staple diet soaps. One of the male respondents pointed out the stereotypes in advertisements: “… (stereotyping) is always there in advertising… old people-young girl-village girl-male hunk-fair girl-great mother-caring father-complete man”. He went on to elucidate the Raymond advertisement in which the ‘completeness’ of the man is harped upon and is linked with his attire and appearance. Another respondent quoted the Page 3 example – all the ‘celebrities’ appearing on Page 3 need to dress, appear and talk in a certain manner befitting the Page 3. The same respondent also talked about the representation of the political class in the media. The politicians are always thrown hard questions and they always manage to evade those questions with politically correct answers! Another lady quipped that the secretary shown in movies and serials invariably turns out to be a woman! There were vocal comments on the TV serials: “the ‘good’ guy is all good and vice versa women have unending energy, never tired, balance their personal and professional lives perfectly managing to please EVERYONE”. Some other also quoted example specific to certain sects in the Indian society. “Isn’t the Sardar necessarily dumb, if not an emotional fool, in most Indian media? The media can’t think of them 38 otherwise… and Parsis are buffoons!” quotes an agitated respondent. Another respondent Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri spoke on similar sarcastic lines, “Punjabis are always supposed to break into a Bhangra whenever they are happy!” Stereotyping in media was also taken beyond gender by many respondents. Some of the respondents felt that any malpractice on Indian soil is invariably linked to Pakistan by the media, sometimes in haste, without proper enquiry. The respondent also gets the impression that media, to a large extent, builds the stereotype of the terrorist being a Muslim. Another respondent highlighted the plight of homosexuality in the Indian media, “It is pathetic to see the portrayal of gay men in Indian media – advertisements, cinema etc. It is not funny that a particular sexual orientation has to be always looked down upon in the name of humor. Let alone the issue of lesbianism. The Indian media, with its frivolous portrayal of guys is not even ready for lesbianism or homosexuality.” Another example of media stereotyping sections of society was brought forward by a respondent, “Why does the Muslim always have to prove his loyalty towards the nation in various films… Sarfarosh… Gadar… Border… the list goes on. The last time I remember of a ‘normal’ potryal of Muslim was in Iqbal.” People were quite vocal in commenting on the stereotype they saw in advertisements. “Why does the mom have to be a ‘supermom’ managing work and home…rearing an all-rounder child… taking care and loving the family and husband? Is it how women and children are or is it how the advertising media wants the society to be?” Another respondent was quick to point out that erstwhile the mom in advertisements was a housewife taking caring of family only; now, in addition to that, the woman is also earning. So the role and responsibility has increased and hasn’t really evened out. Some of the respondents came down heavily on marketing in general, saying that certain product categories like cars are reserved for the male gender: “For two wheelers, females were given the scooter… but for cars remain a male domain… the SUV has a very male-biased image towards it.” 39 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 5.5.1 Gender Stereotypes in Media Based on the interaction with my respondents and my general observations of gender portrayals in media, I find that female roles are condensed into the following categories by the media: 1. Traditional: This includes the sub-categories such as ‘dependency’, ‘housewife’, ‘concerned with looks’ and ‘sex object’. 2. Neutral: This is the plain ‘neutral’ as well as the other miscellaneous category. 3. Nontraditional: This category tends to portray the woman in a positive light by showing shades of ‘career orientation’ or as an ‘authority figure’. Similarly I see the male role categorized as 1. Traditional – macho/dominant: This category usually has the ‘sex appeal’ going and is generally ‘dominant over female’. 2. Traditional – Other: This includes sub categories such as ‘authority figure’, ‘family man’, ‘career oriented’ or ‘involved in sports’. 3. Neutral: Where men are not shown in stereotypical ways. This even includes the portrayal of a ‘weak’ or a ‘frustrated’ man. In a private study conducted by a leading communications agency in 2007, they’ve formed eight ‘stereotypes’ of youth to aid their communication planning. These eight ‘segment’ have been formed after studying the gender portrayals prevalent in media as well as primary research: 1. Orientation towards success: These are the people who want to ‘arrive in life’ as soon as possible. 2. Need to stand out in crowd: Need to differentiate, even if it is through stoking envy in others. 40 3. Live up life: These people break the monotony and ‘let the good times roll’ with their friends. Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 4. Quintessential machismo: Stand up for a cause (theme of Tata Tea ‘Jaago Re’ campaign) or plain bravado (the Thums Up spirit). 5. Attractive to the opposite sex: This desire can be traced to the basic instinct and communications plays at the psyche even if it is at the imaginary level. An example is the Axe deodorant ads. 6. The surreal or exaggerated: Many technology or automobile brands use this stereotype for communications. E.g. Mountain Dew or many SUV automobile ads. 41 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 5.6 Gender and Brand Communication Brands have to increasingly address each of the sexes to achieve better segmentation and targeting. Not only is this in the interest of the brands but also the consumers. Such focused targeting by brands not only helps the brand maximize its returns but the consumer is also heard better, enabling products and brands to address the needs and wants of the consumers better. Although modern marketing communication is getting better at targeting the sexes, somewhere the gender is not being accorded with the necessary importance. This has resulted in brand communications which end up reflecting regressive stereotypes that generate bad breath in the market and alienate customers from the brand in the long run. A case in point was the huge uproar on the initial communications of Fair & Lovely where the brand was playing to a regressive chauvinistic theme, portraying the woman as a ‘man’s object’ with sole intention of marrying her off. Obviously it get received a huge uproar of protests from the very woman’s segment that the brand was targeting. Hence there is a need for the marketing communication fraternity to understand gender as deeply as possible, to avoid social blunders; because every time a brand may not come back from the dead. 5.6.1 The example of Fair & Lovely The Fair & Lovely brand is an example which, by the virtue of treading the gender line, warrants more discussion here. The product idea of Fair & Lovely stems from the ‘Bottom of Pyramid’ theory of C. K Prahalad where he says that the buying power of billions of poor is a terrific and stunning unexploited business opportunity. In an article ‘Selling to the Poor’ (Prahalad & Hammond, 2004) that Prahalad co-wrote with Hammond, he provides a good summary of his views with a reference to the brand Fair & Lovely: “Beyond such benefits as higher standards of living and greater purchasing power, poor consumers find real value in dignity and choice. In part, lack of choice is what being poor is all 42 about. In India, a young woman working as a sweeper outdoors in the hot sun recently expressed pride in being able to use a fashion product – Fair and Lovely cream, which is part Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri sun screen, part moisturizer, and part skin-lightener – because, she says, her hard labor will take less of a toll on her skin than it did on her parents'. She has a choice and feels empowered because of an affordable consumer product formulated for her needs.” However, this theory was criticized by Prof. Aneel Karnani of Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, in one of his articles (Karnani, Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage, 2006): “This is no empowerment! At best, it is an illusion; at worst, it serves to entrench her disempowerment. Women's movements in countries from India to Malaysia to Egypt obviously do not agree with Hammond and Prahalad, and have campaigned against these products. The way to truly empower this woman is to make her less poor, financially independent, and better educated; we need social and cultural changes that eliminate the prejudices that are the cause of her deprivations.” Karnani devised a comprehensive paper (Karnani, Doing Well By Doing Good - Case Study: 'Fair & Lovely' Whitening Cream, 2007) where he critiqued the (marketing) idea of a fairness cream misusing the bottom-of-pyramid theory: “Fair and Lovely is clearly doing well; it is a very profitable and high growth brand for Unilever in many countries, especially in India. The company is not breaking any laws; millions of women voluntarily buy the product and seem to be loyal customers. However, it is, at least, debatable whether it is doing good. It is unlikely Unilever is fulfilling some quot;positive social goalquot; and might even be working to the detriment of a larger social objective. This paper does not mean to demonize Unilever. But, there is no reason to canonize Unilever either.” In this paper, Karnani redoubtably establishes that Unilever has been playing on the racial sensitiveness by marketing Fair & Lovely to the poor women in India and elsewhere in Asia. The communications of Fair & Lovely in India has traditionally portrayed dark skinned women as 43 depressed but, with the use of the product, get progressively light-skinned and in the process get good jobs, boyfriends or husbands and generally become happy. Karnani argues in the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri aforementioned case study that it would be suicidal for any advertising director to run such advertisements in the more progressive markets elsewhere in the World. Even in India, two racist ads showing women in poor light were thrown off the air following much agitation by the women. It is a great debate whether focusing on one product and excluding all others confutes Prahalad's larger theses that the poor represent an underserved market and whether companies can quot;do well and do goodquot; at the same time. This is a complex issue where both Prahalad and Karnani agree that such examples as Mohammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank show that there are indeed socially beneficial ways to profitably provide services to the poor. An interesting point to note, with regards to the above argument between Prahalad and Karnani as well as the bottom-of-pyramid theory’s link to Fair & Lovely is that Prahalad served on the Board of Directors of HUL (earlier HLL). I showed one of the earlier Fair & Lovely controversial advertisements to my 42 respondents to analyze their responses. In this TV commercial, the woman is originally shown having a dark complexion, which supposedly restricts her to pursue a career as an air hostess. The (dark) girl is also shown to be low on confidence, almost indicative of an inferiority complex due to her dark complexion (a stereotype) in Picture 1. 44 Picture 1: Inferiority complex? Picture 2: Rejection due to dark complexion Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Picture 2 shows the helplessness and even submission in case of rejection due to dark complexion. Her father is worried over his daughter’s dark complexion too. Picture 3: Angst due to rejection Picture 3 continues with the helplessness from the previous scene albeit there is angst against the ‘system’ and her misfortune. The father is contemplating ways to overcome the problems faced by her daughter. A point to note here is her career’s start is so heavily dependent on her skin’s color that her other qualities and merits are overshadowed into insignificance. 45 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri The father ‘discovers’ Fair & Lovely as an ayurvedic solution to lighten his daughter’s skin color. It is interesting to note that after using Fair & Lovely, not only does the woman metamorphizes into a fairer woman, she has renewed self-confidence and a sense of self discovery! Picture 4 shows that the man is impressed, if not awestruck, by the fairness driven beauty of the lady. Picture 4: Man is impressed with ‘new’ fair woman Now, with her fairer skin (Picture 5), she is able to get a flying start to her career (literally, getting off the plane!) and feels a sense of achievement. Even the media is shown to be all over her. A point of debate, with regards to this particular scene, is whether the flying class prefers fairness over competency in their air hostesses. Or whether media coverage is an acronym for the sign of ‘having arrived’ professionally? Picture 5: Success followed by media coverage After showing this Fair & Lovely TV commercial, the respondents were asked disguised questions to understand their perceptions of this brand with gender as the backdrop. The following were the findings: 46 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri How important is skin color? Does skin color have a bearing on one's personality? Important Ofcourse not! 22% 19% Makes no Somewhat difference important 26% 33% Around 55% are inclined to give weightage to a person’s skin color while forming an image about their personality. How influential is the skin color in choosing one's spouse? Very Important 2% Important 18% Doesn't matter Also considered 50% 30% 47 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 20% of the respondents still rank skin color as one of the main factors influencing their choice for a spouse. An additional 30% give skin some weightage while choosing one’s spouse. Thus we see that skin color continues to be important to at least half of the urban youth. As a brand, Fair & Lovely is Masculine Unisex 5% 2% Feminine 93% Here, we see that Fair & Lovely is firmly positioned as a feminine brand. 48 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Do you think that Fair & Lovely empowers the woman? Definitely 5% Somewhat 31% Nope! 64% A majority of the population sampled believe that the brand doesn’t really empower the woman. This result assumes greater significance taking into light that Fair & Lovely has changed its communication over the years to portray a more empowered woman. In the recent communications, the brand is supposed to be an enabler for the woman’s impending success and also to differentiate herself. 49 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri In the Fair & Lovely communications (TV commercials, print ads etc.), which sex emerges more powerful? Neither male nor Both appear equal female 3% 7% Male 26% Female 64% As Aneel Karnani comments in one of his articles ‘How fair is Fair & Lovely?’8 “Fair & Lovely, the largest-selling skin whitening cream in the world, is certainly doing well. Launched in 1978, it holds a commanding 50-70 per cent share of the skin whitening market in India, a market that is valued at over Rs 1,200 crore (Rs 12 billion) and growing at 10-15 per cent per annum. HLL christened Fair & Lovely as one of its six mega brands and has successfully launched new product formulations from lotions to gels and soaps.” (Karnani, How fair is Fair & Lovely?, 2007) The debate rages on… 50 8 Source: http://in.rediff.com/money/2007/mar/09guest.htm Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 5.6.2 The Example of Bajaj Pulsar Another advertisement that I showed my interviewees was the first TV commercial of the popular Bajaj Pulsar 150 cc bike. This advertisement established one of the most contemporary automobile brands which developed indigenously. There are two points to be noted. One, around the year 2002 (the launch year of Bajaj Pulsar), the 150 cc bike segment was in its nascent stage with Hero Honda’s CBZ as the only other ‘quality’ product. Second, Bajaj, with its legacy of the (outdated-be-then) geared scooter, was trying hard to gain a foothold in the promising bike segment of the two-wheeler market. They had dabbled with some other bikes, partnering with Kawasaki, but the products didn’t exactly set the market on fire. Come 2002, Bajaj is ready with the Pulsar – a product that was completely developed in-house; the knowledge and learning gained the erstwhile technology partnership with Kawasaki holding them good. Pulsar had it all – and some more that the Indian bike market had never seen – 150 cc powerful engine belting out 14 BHP of power (class-leading), tachometer, large front disc brake, thunderous sound and of course, killer looks! Bajaj decided to set the spirit of the brand Pulsar as uninhibited machismo. Their marketing campaign decided to announce the bike as ‘Definitely Male’, based on its muscular looks and (engine) power, clearly focusing on the man who is proud to be masculine as its target customer. Let us analyze the TV commercial, which is not only one of the most memorable advertisements in the last decade but also kicked of what Picture 6: Nurses are elated on the birth of a ‘boy’ today is a cult brand. The commercial begins with two nurses walking down a hall meant for newly delivered babies, noting down the sex of each baby for the 51 records. The opening camera shot lingers on the nurses’ Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri legs, clearly setting the male-eye bias. Then they come across a ‘big thing’, similarly covered in white cloth, and they nudge each other to ‘pick it up’ and check out its sex. They pick up the cloth, unveiling the Pulsar, and burst in jubilation with chants of ‘It’s a boy!’ as shown in Picture 6. A point to be noted is that the nurses appear to be ecstatic because ‘it’s a boy’ – drawing from the traditionally chauvinistic and patriarchal society that is happier with the birth of a boy as compared to a girl. The next scene shows the bike zooming along the highways, focusing on the (masculine) features of the bikes like toned looks, sound, power (speed) and braking. This, in my opinion, was clever intertwining of functional features with male characteristics, with no visible offense. Picture 7: The (definitely) male gaze Cut to scene 3, the bike’s head turns to see the (good looking) nurses pass by, as shown in Picture 7. This scene is of particular interest as this scene is showing the bike in a definitive male light, with the male gaze fully turned on. So here the bike depicts the male by gazing at the good looking nurses. 52 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Picture 8: ‘Definitely Male’ In the last and conclusive scene, the bike depicts a male gazing, at the females’ legs. At this point of time, the communication’s intension is driven home by the caption ‘Definitely Male’ announcing the intended positioning. After showing this communication, the respondents were asked varied questions to gauge the repercussions of the ‘Definitely Male’ advertisement campaign and the implications on brand Pulsar thereof. The following are the highlights… 53 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Before the advent of Bajaj Pulsar, did you consider the bike as 'male'? No 34% Yes 66% So we see that a majority of the respondents perceived the bike as a male even before Pulsar arrived on the horizon. Bajaj realized this truth about the bike (product) category and turned it on its head by emphasizing it. The communication was made strong enough to create a memorable impact that would help Pulsar literally claim the (already existing) masculinity as its differentiating feature. 54 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri According to you, the bike is... Unisex 5% Neither 24% Male 59% Female 12% Then I asked the respondents about the sex of the bike, without taking into consideration all the marketing that the bike category has witnessed.. The attempt here was to measure the perception of the bike’s sex in the current scenario. As we see, the bike continues to be perceived as a male by the majority. It is also interesting to note that a sizeable number of respondents didn’t accord any gender to the bike, even after the clear gender based advertising from various brands in the last decade. Also, there were people who refer to the bike as ‘she’ or generally consider it to be a female. Whether the ulterior motive in perceiving the bike to be a female is to enable the man to ‘ride her’, is a debatable issue. 55 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri If Pulsar was a person, it would be... Not male 12% Male 88% As we can see, Pulsar’s communications has achieved its intended positioning as a masculine brand with characteristic male traits. This can be touted as an example where the intended and achieved positioning is same. What has made you think that Pulsar is male/female? (with reference to the previous question) Advertisements (TV ads, print ads, banners etc.) 5% 7% The product (the bike itself) 34% The media coverage (magazine/newspaper reviews et al) 54% Others 56 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri We can also see that the product is at the centre of the image formed in the consumers’ minds. This can either be due to the communication of the product (not its psychological benefits but its raw form and features) or due the experience arising out of the usage of the product. The second most influential factor in achieving the intended positioning is the communications – this proves the effectiveness of the brand communication. Do you think that the Pulsar ad is biased towards any particular gender? 3% 7% Biased towards males Biased towards females No gender bias 90% The respondents however feel that the Pulsar communications, especially the earlier ones, are biased towards the male. One of the respondent however said that the ad is not too derogatory for the women and the bike could’ve been shown ridden by a woman – a woman driving a ‘man’ – to even things out on the gender front. Interesting, I would say! When the respondents were asked about the concept of ‘definitely male’ and the ensuing visualization of this concept in the ad, an overwhelming 70% thought of it as a powerful concept that has been effectively executed in the advertisement. Although some of the women did find the communication very male centric (chauvinistic), but since they considered the bike as a ‘male category’, they didn’t take too much offense to the communication. Men loved the advertisement and felt that the advertisement made them feel good about the brand in 57 general. Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Does the Pulsar advertisements make you feel that Pulsar is better than other bikes? 2% 32% Yes No Can't say 66% However, in the ultimate moment of truth, most of the respondents felt that the communication alone doesn’t make them feel that the Pulsar is better than other bikes (although a significant 32% believe so). Since the Pulsar has captured and maintained market lead in the 150 cc segment, it is obvious that the bike is a popular product which sells. Hence, combining the research finding with market reports, we may say that there are reasons other than communication that sell Pulsar more than its competitors. 58 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Do you think any other bike is 'definitely male'? No 27% Yes 73% A majority of the respondents feel that there are bikes, other than Pulsar, that are ‘definitely male’. However, we must note that the above question has been asked in the year 2009, when many competitor brands have adopted the muscular styling and other ‘definitely male’ attributes from the Pulsar since 2002. This also speaks of the perception of the entire bike category as male centric. When asked that if they were given an opportunity to design the next Pulsar campaign, will they continue with the ‘Definitely Male’ positioning or would they propose something new, an overwhelming 74% said that they would continue with the current ‘Definitely Male’ positioning of the Pulsar. The other 26% suggested a more gender neutral positioning but acknowledged that even if the communication is gender neutral, it would not find any extra favor with the market. One of the respondents quipped “…can extend the same idea and not be so direct in their Interpretation of bike being male. Bajaj may introduce a light-weight female bike (definitely female)… so that so called 'feminists' are satisfied.” The repsondents hwever agreed that Pulsar ads were in general much less sexist or chauvnistic than Fair & Lovely advertisments. Besides, Pulsar communications have never faced the kind of criticism or protest like many Fair & Lovely advertisments. So here is a brand that has treaded 59 the line between neutraility and chauvinism without stroking too many gender chords. The success and popularity of the brand Pulsar is for all of us to see amongst the youth and in general and is pretty visible (in alrge numbers) on the Indian roads. Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 6 Interpretations and inferences Urban youth is caught in the transition state from chauvinism, which has been so endemic to the Indian patriarchal society, to a more rational and liberated mentality. What the urban youth perceives as feminism is the right to equality between the sexes and respect for both genders. Although the urban youth don’t conform to hardline feminism, they use it more to blunt the hegemony of chauvinism. Amongst those interviewed, very few realize the chauvinism in them that has been a function of their traditional upbringing. But then change has been initiated and it takes time for societies to change especially if the change warranted is very fundamental. The urban youth equates conservatism to chauvinism, which may not be necessarily the right equation. Although liberation and, to an extent, feminism is about breaking the conventional stereotypes, the thrust should be to empower people irrespective of gender. As was pointed out earlier, true empowerment is exemplified by many ‘rural’ women who are increasingly becoming economically independent due to their cooperatives movement. Hence, when a girl decides to earn her way to her material (or other) desires instead of marrying a rich man’s wallet or when a man lets his wife earn the bread for the day her way or when a father lets his daughter grow into an independent individual (through education and otherwise) notwithstanding her female gender or when people fall in love without considering caste or religion, our society would be on the path to progress. Media undoubtedly portrays stereotypes. Although arguable, many stereotypes portrayed in media are true while some are not. Media, however, has to realize its power to influence the society and shape the thoughts and minds of youth. It cannot shy away from assuming the moral responsibility bestowed upon it by default. Therefore media has to take a judgmental call as to which stereotypes are regressive and hence may not be unnecessarily highlighted. Brand communication has always used stereotyping at some level to typify and address their 60 target customer segments. As was illustrated by the Fair & Lovely example in this paper, a brand can choose to profit by dangerously treading into gender issues. However, it is not Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri possible to sustain brands that don’t appreciate the existing and, more importantly, the emerging sentiments of customers. As is the case in point, Fair & Lovely has had to reposition its brand from a value proposition of ‘fairness cream’ to one that offers ‘skin care’. The other example in the paper – Bajaj Pulsar – also treads on the boundaries of chauvinism. However, the brand was successfully portraying a stereotype which is endemically true for the market without excessively offending the women. After the successful campaigning of the ‘Definitely Male’ Pulsar which set the sales charts soaring, Bajaj probably realized the risks in the communication and gradually changed it to orient Pulsar more as a cult brand – the latest Bajaj Pulsar advertisements have absolutely no gender offensive material and just concentrates on promoting a great motorcycling experience. Both of these brands are success stories – one had to change its ways (and still in controversies) and the other having found its place under the sun by cleverly driving its communication from the earlier gender-based to the presently brand experience-based platform. Marketers must appreciate that not only are they supposed to make money for their interests but they are also supposed to understand the present and future needs of the people and society in general. Marketing can’t be separated from social issues; as without a sound social structure, the marketing framework can’t be sustainable. When the fundamental truth – that customers are not just profit-centers but are people who constitute the society which is finally the universal set of all the ‘target segments’ – is addressed, there can be a sustainable eco- system between marketing (economics) and the society. 61 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 7 Bibliography Bhasin, K., & Khan, N. S. (1986). Kali for Women. New Delhi. Chatterjee, S. (2006, May 5). Behind the lessening of true potential. Retrieved from India Together: http://www.indiatogether.org/2006/may/opi-potential.htm#continue Cornell, D. (1998). At the heart of freedom: feminism, sex, and equality. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Das, M. (2000, November). Men and Women in Indian Magazine Advertisements: A Preliminary Report. Retrieved from BNET: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2294/is_2000_Nov/ai_75959822 Das, M. (2000). Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2294/is_2000_Nov/ai_75959822/print Freedman, J. (2002). Feminism. Buckingham: Open University Press. Gauntlett, D. (2002). Media, Gender and Identity. London: Routledge. Joseph, A., & Sharma, K. (2006). Whose News? The Media and Women’s Issues. New Delhi: Sage. Karnani, A. (2007). Doing Well By Doing Good - Case Study: 'Fair & Lovely' Whitening Cream. Strategic Management Journal . Karnani, A. (2006). Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage. California Management Review . Karnani, A. (2007, March 9). How fair is Fair & Lovely? Retrieved from Rediff News: http://in.rediff.com/money/2007/mar/09guest.htm Krolokke, C., & Sorensen, A. S. (2005). Three Waves of Feminism: From Suffragettes to Grrls. Sage. Madhavan, M. R. (2008). You Are Here. Mumbai: Penguin Books India. Market Research Society of India. (2009). Socio-Economic Classification. Retrieved from NaukriHub: http://www.naukrihub.com/india/fmcg/consumer-class/socio-economic/ Prahalad, C., & Hammond, A. (2004, June). Selling to the Poor. Retrieved from http://www.ckprahalad.com/2006/01/29/selling-to-the-poor-by-allen-l-hammond-ck-prahalad/ Singh, M. C. (2004). Feminism in India. Asian Journal of Women’s Studies . 62 Walker, R. (1992). Becoming the Third Wave. Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri 8 Appendix 8.1 Questionnaire for primary research Demographic Information Age • Sex • Career Status (Student or Working) • Annual household income • City of residence • Fair & Lovely After showing a TV commercial of Fair & Lovely, the following questions were asked : How important is skin color? Does skin color have a bearing on one's personality? (Likert’s • scale) How influential is the skin color in choosing one's spouse? (Likert’s scale) • As a brand, Fair & Lovely is Masculine/Feminine/Unisex? • Do you think that Fair & Lovely empowers the woman? (Likert’s scale) • In the Fair & Lovely communications (TV commercials, print ads etc.), which sex emerges • more powerful? (Male/Female/Neither/Both) Bajaj Pulsar After showing the debut Bajaj Pulsar TV commercial, the following questions were asked: Before the advent of Bajaj Pulsar, did you consider the bike as 'male'? (Yes/No) • What has made you think that Pulsar is male/female? (Advertisements/Media coverage • and review/the product itself/peer feedback) Do you think that the Pulsar ad is biased towards any particular gender? • (Male/Female/Neither) What do you think of the concept quot;definitely malequot; and the visualization of the concept in • this ad? (open-ended) Does the Pulsar advertisements make you feel that Pulsar is better than other bikes? • (Yes/No/Can’t say) Do you think any other bike is 'definitely male'? (Yes/No) • 63 What are your suggestions for the next Bajaj Pulsar advertisement? • Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net
    • Feminism and Chauvinism for Urban India Perceptions of urban youth – A marketing context Utsav Chaudhuri Feminism and Chauvinism What, according to you, is FEMINISM? • What, according to you, is CHAUVINISM? • According to you, what is Stereotyping? Do you think your friends stereotype • men/women? A stereotype is a preconceived, oversimplified, exaggerated, and often demeaning • assumption of the characteristics possessed by an individual due to his or her membership in a specific group. Do you think that stereotypes exist in media? If yes, please give examples of right and wrong (according to you) stereotyping in media viz. TV, press, cinema etc. Do you think that stereotyping is morally right/wrong? Please comment. • 64 Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad | www.mica-india.net