Car show, you say…. or ladies on show ? Mauritians had the privilege of attending car shows recently. There were many cars on display and there were even more ladies present too. The shows pulled consequential crowds and the rational conclusion that us ladies can draw is that Mauritians are very much interested in motor vehicles and went there to have a good look. Ah ! Who are we kidding ? The vehicles were relegated to background and there was a lot more of flesh on show than anything else. And here, we are referring to the 'hostesses' who have been carefully handpicked to complement or enhance the vehicles, which would no doubt have sunk into the quicksand of oblivion ! What other reason could there possibly be then ? Wearing tiny shorts, tiny vests, body-hugging outfits and high heels, many of these 'hostesses' were prancing around, pouting, posing non-stop in front of the vehicles. There were more 'hostesses' than vehicles !
The use of women for advertising purposes goes way back. Adverts can be very tricky : they have to send messages quickly but effectively. Therefore, TV adverts and billboards make extensive use of women to attract attention. Who cares about our intellectual abilities ? Let us just be objects of sexism ! One can almost recall the famous words – “Sois belle et tais-toi !”. It does not only attract male attention but female attention as well, therefore, success guaranteed from an advertising point of view. Men gawp and women either sulk or aspire ! Let's not even start with the size zero issues !
To be brutally honest, in an era where women have been given the opportunities to rise from the slumbers of economic, socio-cultural and political dark-aged dungeons of stereotypes and subservience, it is indeed a sad, even tragic state of affairs, to find that in practice, women are still being considered as 'sex objects. ' We cannot deny that women have been able to break away to a great extent from the chains of patriarchy. We ladies are arguably freer than we were decades ago. We have had waves of feminists fighting for our rights, fighting for our freedom. These efforts must be acknowledged. Even though there is nothing wrong in a woman choosing to expose herself as an individual, there must be a clear understanding when one is being used as an object of lust and marketing ! However, in the present context, we have to ask ourselves this : the objects on sale are cars ; women are only being used from a marketing standpoint : but what is the subliminal message that is being sent here ? 'Come and see the car as well as the women ? ' So, by extension, we are going back to the use of the woman for showcasing, without focusing in any way on her individuality, personality or intellect. Moreover, the car industry is disregarding a big portion of its customers : women themselves ! There are countless women who are able to buy and drive their own cars without relying on men. So, how about some marketing for them ?
Some may say that we are ranting here. But let's bring everything back into the Mauritian context. We are still a country bound by traditional values and norms. We respect our elders and we have deep-rooted traditions. We wonder whether this was indeed a 'family' show. Are we stopping so low that we are losing our moral values ? What is more interesting is that there were many women in the organizing committee. It is worth asking whether these women had no qualms in getting those 'perfect-looking dolls' to come and market the event.
Ladies, don't you have a part of responsibility in all of that ? Female bodies will continue to be viewed as sex-objects because you are continuing to feed in that frenzy. Those of your agreeing to expose yourselves should understand when you are being used as commodities. Fashion can be tasteful without being submerged by tackiness.
We urge all you ladies out there to raise your voice against degrading and sexist adverts, pageants, music videos etc. Stop feeding into the misogynists' greed ! Whilst there are women out there fighting to bring an end to sexism, we in Mauritius are encouraging it ! Let's pay tribute to women like the Australian Prime Minister, Julian Gillard, who last week, had the courage to rise up to the Leader of the Opposition and denounce his sexist approach. Why are we encouraging the lust industry ? First, it was the carnival and now the so-called 'motor shows' !
We should remember that women can be each other's strongest allies as well as strongest foes. Be the former. Next time you are asked to be a mere object of display, please SAY NO !
Forget the eyes ! Beauty always lies in the soul of the beholder !