25.4.12

Shading the Vagina

Yoni puja, worshipping the vagina, from Yogini Temple, MP, India

I’d like my vagina to be nice and bright. This is my choice. Just as women make a choice to depilate the pubic area, or opt only for a bikini wax. Why do we do it? To feel clean and because we do not want hairs sticking out from the sides in swimsuits and lacy lingerie. We do not want menstrual blood drying on hair in the private parts unless we take good care to wash. We do not like smells that emanate from there, however natural the odour. Fragrant soap and powder are our allies. Often, we use panty liners because of the discharge.

So, why the vitriolic, supposedly feministic, reaction to an Indian feminine hygiene product only because its tagline states: “Life for women will now be fresher, cleaner and more importantly fairer and more intimate”? I found nothing offensive about the 25-second ad for Clean & Dry Intimate Wash that is aired on television. In fact, it seemed like a regular liquid soap. I missed pretty much of the controversy surrounding it until just the other day.

There are several ads where women cook, clean, dress for a man’s pleasure. One ad a while ago showed a village woman getting a little orgasm washing her husband’s underwear at the river! There are small sounds about these, not loud moans, as in this case. I was surprised at how proving oneself ends up being another form of peer pressure. “If you believe in women’s rights, how can you tolerate this typical obsession with fairness?” is the first dart thrown. Since it has to do with genitals, and Indian ones, the issue has become international. And the Indian ladies, who probably stuff their faces with SPF 50 sunblock cream or carry little paisley-print brollies to protect themselves, went ballistic. It was as though they were just waiting to show the world that we Indians don’t just have elephants and call centres and IT guys, we have the hardware that does not need any software. It was a bold step to out their pubes and flaunt its different shades.

To add ballast to their argument, they used the tried-and-tested racist angle. In India, there is most certainly a bias with a preference for fairer skin. But it is not based on caste or religion, but region. Face fairness products do show that success depends on how light-skinned you are. Unfortunately, the wrong man has been quoted to explain this. Indian theatre personality and veteran ad man Alyque Padamsee said:

“The only reason I can offer for why people like fairness, is this: if you have two beautiful girls, one of them fair and the other dark, you see the fair girl’s features more clearly. This is because her complexion reflects more light.”

This brought about a flurry of, ooh, so my vagina has to reflect light. However asinine his views, he was not talking about the pubic area.

Don’t these people read sex advice columns? Look at the number of men, much more than women, who want a solution to the dark area around the genitals. They are equally concerned about clipping hair or dried semen inside the folds of the foreskin. Brazilian waxing has become popular in some countries among men and a few salons even offer to embellish the area with little jewels. If a product such as the one for women is launched for men, they will most certainly opt for it. We are anyway talking about a limited section of people who use these.

I find it pathetic that there is anger about a woman pleasing a man. Well, I do not know how many of us women sit down and take a good look at our vaginas in a day and say with much poise and confidence, this is who I am and proud of it. It makes no sense. Sex – and due to circumstantial requirements the genitals are involved – is about pleasure: receiving and giving it. Yoni (vagina) worship was as common as lingam (phallus) worship centuries ago. Men try hard; women do so too. In fact, while women invest much more in ‘things’ – thongs, unguents, waxing - men have to rely on their organ. These women ought to ask themselves whether or not they have pampered themselves with such seductive indulgences. Partly, it could be the reasons I mentioned at the beginning, but like hell it would be a lie if no woman has tried to please a man in bed because it gives her pleasure too. Oh, watch out, whipped cream is white.

Wait. They are not against pleasure. They just don’t want to be coloured. I read this piece of tripe in Jezebel:

In this commercial for an Indian product called Clean and Dry Intimate Wash, a (very light-skinned) couple sits down for what would have been a peaceful cup of morning coffee – if the woman's disgusting brown vagina hadn't ruined everything! The dude can't even bring himself look at her. He can't look at his coffee either, because it only reminds him of his wife's dripping, coffee-brown hole! Fortunately, the quick-thinking woman takes a shower, scrubbing her swarthy snatch with Clean and Dry Intimate Wash ("Freshness + Fairness"). And poof! Her vadge comes out blinding white like a downy baby lamb (and NOT THE GROSS BLACK KIND) and her husband – whose penis, I can only assume, is literally a light saber – is all, "Hey, lady! Cancel them divorce papers and LET'S BONE."

Despite the attempt at in-your-face bravado, it reminds me of a sophomore necking in a corner, puckering collagen lips when caught. It is an insecure reaction, for the assumptions override the facts. The couple is light-skinned, as in many ads. Why does a woman have to be dripping? Who is the one putting pressure on the female here? And the hole is not about colour. It is the area around the vagina. If there is such a problem with that, I can imagine how difficult it will be for the drippers to find their clits, just in case the man ignores them.

In an ad of a few seconds, everything has to be quick. She is going to take a shower, which isn’t bad. Maybe she is spraying the water jet inside her for a bit of self-love, just in case he isn’t all that much of a dude, eh? In one wash, she comes out feeling fresh and dry (aha, there goes the dripping fun you had on her behalf). So they, the story goes, end up in bed and he cancels the divorce. Strange that it does not strike the faux fur-flying feminists that she might want to divorce the man and live with a bright and fresh genital location. What a shame, for are they not revolted that women want to please men?

Do us a favour. Since you look at yourself, and you are so against this fair business, just pour some dark chocolate on your vagina. This is a statement you are making, so don’t let any man rear his head near you.

(c) Farzana Versey

- - -
Update: Am linking two old pieces to give a perspective. And spare me the crackers about how your feminism is bigger than mine.

On the movement to get men to shave: A close shave?

On men's rights, feminism, and beyond: Another patriarchy - Feminist men and Amazonian women

29 comments:

  1. Your first line, "I’d like my vagina to be nice and bright.", reminds me of the Black Stone in Mecca.

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  2. i am always a bit suspicious about theories in evolutionary biology but find it interesting anyway.

    Padamsee's view is nothing new. it is a very standard theory (to be honest ,i am not too sure about it's current standing) of why most men - and not only indian men , think fairer complexion is more attractive.

    one of the reasons is fairer skin makes the features more defined. this is also why dark skin people have fuller lips.

    another is males prefer younger women because of higher chance of healthy child bearing . now, the argument goes like younger = healthier skin . healthier = brighter. and fairer (at casual observation) = brighter.

    fairer complexion may be one of the many factors of female attractiveness.

    isn't the standard lingam comes with the yoni? i think so . that is what makes it complete. so when people worship shivlinga they worship both.

    by the way, isn't skin whitening product unhealthy? they make the skin thinner - which increases the chances of disease etc. i mean i heard it somewhere - not sure though.

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  3. very boldly written , but I think the first paragraph was unnecessary

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  4. FV,

    The ad and the subsequesnt uproar are both idiotic. If we were indeed a healthy society, we would have ignored the ad and the protests both. Unfortunately, we are anything but that.

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  5. My skin is brown all over. Not just the area between my legs (I just checked again, to be really sure). I don’t see a lot of Indian television. But when I do, I see a lot of asinine and stupid advertisements in not just Hindi channels but the regional ones too. These perpetuate various stereotypes. Although we’re all familiar with these, I’ll enumerate a few. Just for laughs. 1) Good masala powder makes good wives/daughter in laws. 2) All women want as gifts are pressure cookers. 3) Young girls with short hair are unhappy and want long black tresses. 4) The right sanitary napkins make our periods more pleasurable.

    In case you’re worried, I am NOT sidelining the men. Here’s some for them too. 1) Women love clean shaven men. 2) Good deodorant will bring the ladies to the yard. 3) Women want fair skinned men. Yes, there’s a pattern. It would seem that all men want is to be attractive to women. Who knew our men were so insecure and badly in need of validation.

    But that’s besides the point. We all know and agree Indian advertisements are rarely very intelligent. However that shouldn’t stop us from mocking it. Yes, vaginas are high maintenance. They bleed, leak, smell and cause all sorts of issues we could live without, particularly when we’re too busy trying to deciding the right kind of cooking oil that will keep our husbands healthy and thereby would have fulfilled one of our many Indian-woman-duties. Women do need to care for themselves. But not just in the superficial way that advertisements ask us to. Sure we all want soft skins and fragrant underarms. How we’d love for our acne to disappear. But we also love cars. We also want our hearts to have less cholesterol.

    Sure, there is nothing offensive about the intimate wash. But let’s not compare liquid soap to a product that promises pubic fairness. Sometimes the darkness is caused by a medical illness. Sometimes they are a result of razor bumps and ingrown hair. No one has even considered that this skin brightner is promising to solve what could be a dermatological disease

    A wash that promises to fix what women have come to see is natural, is also part of the problem. Also Farzana, sunscreen... really? Using SPF 50 has less to do with tanning and more to do with protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. But you knew that didn’t you?

    Also, please let’s not conflate pubic fairness with sex advice columns. Women and men want all kinds of solutions to all kinds of problems ranging with dealing with infidelity to annoying tics in bed to low sex drive to eliminating guilt about cross dressing. I won’t go into the ridiculous kinds of advice that people do end up receiving on such columns. But we need to stop pretending that we’re giving people what they want. I am yet to read a column where a man has written complaining about his wife’s dark public area. Women often wish men would trim the pubic hair a little more and wouldn’t force the blow jobs.

    The troubling aspect of the fairness wash advertisement is that it shows men would be put off by dark pubic areas and that we women must feel ashamed about it. If anything I’d like to see a man (or woman) writing a column about this saying, “Ladies, we don’t care about which side of the shade card your pubic area falls on.” There is no anger about women pleasing a man. None at all. But has anyone asked the men what they want?

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  6. A couple points--

    1) You speak at the very beginning of choices. But choice is complicated. Why do women 'choose' to go hairless, in many parts of their body? Surely you cannot completely discount the huge amount of social pressure that undergirds this 'choice'. Real women are smooth, soft, silky- the hairy ones are lllesbians. These stereotypes exist. And in their presence, how can you claim that women depilating is a pure choice? For some, it my be- for many, it is not a choice, but an obligation.

    2) "Supposedly feministic"? "Faux flur flying-feminists"? You seem to suggest that there is one true feminism- the rest are untrue. But there are many different kinds of feminisms, no? You cannot claim to have a mononpoly on the 'real' feminism- just because someone claiming to be a feminist says something you disagree with, you cannot invalidate their claim to feminism.

    3) Yes, there are many, many other obnoxious, harmful ads. The protests over them should have been louder. But just because they were not, does not mean we must remain silent on this and other similar issues.

    4) "...just pour some dark chocolate on your vagina. This is a statement you are making, so don’t let any man rear his head near you."

    WTF?! This comes awfully close to making the conflation between feminists and man-hating lesbians. Unless I read you wrong. Which I hope I did. In which case, what does this mean?

    And, a question: do you object to the existence of the wide variety of 'beauty' products for women (of which this Wash would be a part)? Not the fact that some women use them, but the fact that all are expected to.

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  7. Pooja Lapasia26/04/2012, 15:31

    Very well commented by @Cathartist "The troubling aspect of the fairness wash advertisement is that it shows men would be put off by dark pubic areas and that we women must feel ashamed about it." This is the problem, the problem is not the product but the way it is portrayed.

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  8. FV, have read your feminist pieces from Observer days, always a different take.This will antagonize some women y'know. I understood what you're saying, some don't!!

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  9. Dion:

    I wonder if your reference was just an observation. You probably do know the deep connection and vital analyses about the analogous aspects of sexuality and religious symbols. Some of it has been discussed on these pages!

    ---

    Carvaka:

    Evolutionary biology does not have one narrative, so you might need to get suspicious about various versions, and a good thing it is. The problem is standardisation. And this is precisely what I was objecting to. If we cannot deal with one particular idea (however revolting it is), then must we assume that our idea is the right one?

    Theories about pulchritude differ in societies. We were a colonised people for years, and it was primarily people of fair skin that ruled us. We have mimicked many of their attitudes, and internalised them too.

    How many of those who spoke against this product, or fairness creams, have insisted that matrimonial columns should not carry references to colour when seeking partners? This too is in the public domain. It appears in regional papers as well.

    The lingam is always with the yoni, but the yoni has no such compulsions as the image here illustrates!

    Of course, skin lightening creams – as well as tanning lotions – are harmful. Many cosmetic products have chemical ingredients.

    I was not discussing the medical ramifications, which could throw up several questions about not only the beauty but the pharmaceutical industry.

    ---

    Rizwanalam

    Not meant to be ‘bold’, and believe that discussing such subjects should be normal. The first para was necessary from my point of view. The reason I am explaining is because of some other issues raised. I had to emphasise how we women view our bodies.

    ---

    F&F:

    We are unhealthy, my dear. Is that not why you too wanted to comment?!

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  10. Anon:

    - While there is social conditioning, it is not only in the area of women’s bodies. We will have to split hairs – yes, those too – over this. Who told you that hairy women are seen as lesbians? Many women do not wax/shave body hair at all. If you talk about doing things as an obligation, then why do we dress up? Nudity is natural.

    - "Supposedly feministic"? "Faux flur flying-feminists"? You seem to suggest that there is one true feminism- the rest are untrue. But there are many different kinds of feminisms, no? You cannot claim to have a mononpoly on the 'real' feminism- just because someone claiming to be a feminist says something you disagree with, you cannot invalidate their claim to feminism.

    I did not start it. Did you address those who were forcing their views on women who might wish to use a product, be of a certain kind? Why? Because it started as a herd reaction. It is not I, but they who are holding up a flag and believe they are the chosen ones. I am questioning that, and in fact have been saying for years that there is no one kind of feminism.

    -"...just pour some dark chocolate on your vagina. This is a statement you are making, so don’t let any man rear his head near you."
    WTF?! This comes awfully close to making the conflation between feminists and man-hating lesbians. Unless I read you wrong. Which I hope I did. In which case, what does this mean?


    Honestly, this is daft. 1. Dark chocolate as opposed to anti-white. 2. Let a man stay away because they talked about not pleasing a man. Flipping coin argument. Conflation’s in your mind.

    And, a question: do you object to the existence of the wide variety of 'beauty' products for women (of which this Wash would be a part)? Not the fact that some women use them, but the fact that all are expected to.

    Not all are expected to use it. Do not reduce women to that. I do not object to beauty products because I have yet to see a woman who has kohl rubbed into her eyes or lipstick pushed into her mouth. The day I see that happening, I’ll take a call on that.

    ---

    Akanksha:

    My feminist pieces continue, and thanks for remembering. If people get antagonised – men, women, religious groups, politicians, media persons – then it is something they have to deal with. I am saying my bit; they are perceiving it their way. Glad you understood. I am sure you may not be alone.

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  11. Cathartist:

    Hello…can we just take a ride together on this one? It might be a tad bit long, but tell me when you get tired. Okay?

    Reply does not fit in, so splitting it:
    Part 1

    Thanks for sharing your colour, and re-checking. Appreciate the effort, although I’d take your word for it. Mine needs a holiday in Goa to get where you are, and that is not often possible. So I live with a desert trying to meet sunset shade.

    TV ads – as well as print ads – do perpetuate stereotypes. I said that in the post, but thanks for the laughs, although let’s do a bit of nitpicking here. Women want more than just pressure cookers. You missed the diamonds, the insurance policies which give her an orgasmic ‘anand’…it’s a long list. Young girls with short hair could want long hair. Do you have a problem that? Not just black but golden tresses. They read fairytales, and are influenced by them. Good quality sanitary napkins do make periods less cumbersome. I don’t know of any woman, young or not-so-young, who does not want a sanitary napkin that soaks her flow well, smells good and does not stick out of her butt. And yes, gives her sound sleep. Do you have a problem with that? (And, regarding a response to you, I find it disingenuous that the problem is with the ad and not the product. The product will be purchased for the same thing as they ad is selling.)

    I really am not worried if you sidelined men. You obviously do not know me. But since you want to do the good deed, fine we have another plethora of stereotypes, which, hello, have been written about here and elsewhere by me. So you are preaching to the priest.

    About validation, I’d be a bit surprised if you did not write this thinking of how you got it out of your system and perhaps someone will appreciate you for it. If not, the Himalayas are calling. But then that too is validation and a peaked one as well.

    So, who has asked you or anyone to stop mocking these ads or any other stereotypes? No one. But I have the right to question that mockery based on contrarian arguments. It is not as though we are trudging from Point A to Point B and solving the whole pubic issue.

    You bring in cooking oil. Did you do so when there was this flurry of ‘oh, no, not a vaginal wash that will make you fair’ going on? I ask this in all seriousness, because I do not know you and what you might or might not have written. Unlike those who comment and make broad assumptions about how I probably want the woman to moan in the kitchen while she is marinating a good V. Some women could be diddling there.

    Women do need to care for themselves. But not just in the superficial way that advertisements ask us to. Sure we all want soft skins and fragrant underarms. How we’d love for our acne to disappear. But we also love cars. We also want our hearts to have less cholesterol.

    Then, what’s the problem? Just beat the ads to pulp and go for what you want. You don’t have to fall for their superficiality. And just in case you do not know, women do want and have the things you mention – whether it is cars or cholesterol-free hearts. Check out the roads and the gyms/organic food stores.

    (contd)

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  12. Part 2:

    Sure, there is nothing offensive about the intimate wash. But let’s not compare liquid soap to a product that promises pubic fairness. Sometimes the darkness is caused by a medical illness. Sometimes they are a result of razor bumps and ingrown hair. No one has even considered that this skin brightner is promising to solve what could be a dermatological disease

    Well, I can compare it to Dettol, too. It promises cleanliness, dryness, brightness too. I already said that ‘fair’ was used as a marketing ploy, just as eye makeup uses certain kinds of eyes, bras use certain kinds of breasts, and even male underwear uses certain kinds of dicks (or padding).

    Now about the more serious issue. Again, I do hope you had talked about the medical illnesses when this ‘story’ broke. Every woman has pubic hair. The darkness as a natural state is what I mentioned comes up in queries. Acne is also a medical problem, yet creams are sold that claim to cure them. Some may. Such claims are not restricted to such products alone.

    People have naturally oily/dry/split-end hair on the head. Shampoos talk about curing this. So, an intimate wash is not promising to “fix” the private parts. It says you will feel fresh etc. No one is measuring progress, and given the bloke Padamsee’s explanation, if the vagina works as headlights then one may conjecture that men would not have to ask for directions. (Aww, now jump on me for promoting the ‘fair’ idea. “ARE YOU NOT SAYING THAT WOMEN WITH DARK TUSHES CANNOT HAVE SEX?” No, I am being facetious. Deliberately. Unlike being funny, which comes naturally.

    Also Farzana, sunscreen... really? Using SPF 50 has less to do with tanning and more to do with protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. But you knew that didn’t you?

    Yes, I did. But you got the dig, didn’t you? And it would be utterly stupid for anyone to think I am comparing sunscreen lotion to this V wash. I mean, the sun’s rays don’t quite hit us there, although it could do with some Vitamin D.

    Also, please let’s not conflate pubic fairness with sex advice columns. Women and men want all kinds of soluteions to all kinds of problems ranging with dealing with infidelity to annoying tics in bed to low sex drive to eliminating guilt about cross dressing. I won’t go into the ridiculous kinds of advice that people do end up receiving on such columns. But we need to stop pretending that we’re giving people what they want. I am yet to read a column where a man has written complaining about his wife’s dark public area. Women often wish men would trim the pubic hair a little more and wouldn’t force the blow jobs.

    Yup. I do a parody of these columns here. However, I have issues about “we” giving people what they want. Who are we? Who are they? We make choices for ourselves. So let us not decide what they want. And you’ve just fallen into your own trap when you say you have not read about any man complaining about a dark pubic area. Complain? Wasn’t everyone making a noise about women pleasing men? Then why are you playing into that?

    (contd)

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  13. Part 3

    And then you say:

    The troubling aspect of the fairness wash advertisement is that it shows men would be put off by dark pubic areas and that we women must feel ashamed about it. If anything I’d like to see a man (or woman) writing a column about this saying, “Ladies, we don’t care about which side of the shade card your pubic area falls on.” There is no anger about women pleasing a man. None at all. But has anyone asked the men what they want?

    I did not see the man being put off by a dark pubic area. I think I have spoken at length about the ad. I’d be offended, though, if I read a column by a male saying he did not care, and you should too. Because he is not selling a product, but an attitude. He is telling us it is an opinion that needs to be heard. And we women should listen and say, isn’t that just so sweet that we can now wallow in what we have because he says it is fine, not to worry.

    What women and men want is between the two of them. She may like to polish his penis and he might want to create a little gel-spiked hairdo on her.

    These are options and one of them could be fair. Ever ride a white stallion or do you oppose it in principle?

    I gave my version. I did not say it was genital gospel...The End.
    Cheers

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  14. For those who came in late, a couple of pieces (will link them on the post, too):

    On the movement to shave men:

    http://farzana-versey.blogspot.in/2012/03/close-shave.html

    On Feminist Men and Amazonian Women:

    http://farzana-versey.blogspot.in/2011/03/another-patriarchy-feminist-men-and.html

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  15. I guess you are saying the first paragraph was about all the women which I believe many women might disagree - wouldn't be great if you write the 'indian version' of eve ensler's book maybe Indian monologue. It might be an interesting subject

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  16. Oh yes, by protesting against the ad, feminists have forcibly prevented everyone else from using a product they crave for. So, now not only is it fine to say that fair is best, but one is not even allowed to protest against it, lest one be called a fur-flying-feminist.

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  17. Rizwan:

    How do you know whether women may or may not agree with the first para? Btw, I did/do not speak for all women. Just as those with an opposite or other viewpoints cannot.

    And thanks, but no thanks. My ideas and work stand well on their own. I do not have to or wish to replicate Eve Ensler, or Greer or Steinem, although I do admire what many of them have done for the feminist movement. (I have issues with Ensler's monologue.)

    Apu:

    Not a chance.
    1. No one can prevent anyone from doing what they wish to do. Just accept that a protest can invite a counter protest. Unidimensional ideas are safe, but some of us don't follow trends.

    2. You need to declare your feminism, so speak for yourself. There are others, too, so get off that mare.

    PS: I am glad the term "fur-flying feminist" has touched a chord. My pleasure.

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  18. That was my idea, that many women may not agree, there was no vote to determine the outcome of it :) I always like to read the counter arguments of something, and I would always support it even I may/may not agree with it, it creates a good platform of healthy debate and discussion in our discourse. I was not aware of issues with MS ensler, but I have to say she is extremely popular here and many women go berserk on feb 14 with myriad display of posters and skits , WE would like to read your counter arguments and reservation on these issues, however I must confess that 'gender issues' are not my forte but it would be quite comforting to know and discuss about it :)

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  19. Wonder if the cosmetic companies would come up with whitening cream for manhood as well. Metrosexual has something to mean

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  20. Lingam Satire.

    http://www.opposingviews.com/i/entertainment/video-susan-sarandon-promotes-white-man%E2%80%99s-dck-womens-equality

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  21. To start off, I thank you in earnest for taking me seriously enough, to write back to me. I am quite used to being ignored and have come to assume my comment will get a terse two-lined reply. So imagine my surprise to see you’ve taken the time and effort to write out a measured yet well-thought-out response. I am grateful for the validation. And I say this without a trace of sarcasm.

    Let me just provide a little background about my stance on similar issues. I don’t oppose fairness creams or other stereotypical ads in a flag-waving-militant-Arundathi-Roy-kinda way. It makes me frown for a bit and mutter to myself, “what is the world coming to?” and then I turn off TV for a few days.

    But I do wish we had intelligent ads where men were walking down supermarket aisles wondering which cooking oil would be best for the family or ads where these men’s eyebrows would be knit in furious thought contemplating the virtues of Complan over Horlicks. In the spirit of equality (which we both desire of course), I’d like car advertisements where a gorgeous woman steps out of a BMW she just drove at 120mph. Not a pink scooty, a sporty BMW.

    Yes, I acknowledge that shampoo advertisements, particularly the anti-dandruff ones, promise a cosmetic cure to what could be a medical problem. I understand that when the product does not do what it promises to, people just stop buying it. But that’s no reason to oppose the ad in the interest of good principle, yes?

    I bring the issue of sex advice columns because you begin by saying, “Don’t these people read sex advice columns?” followed by “If a product such as the one for women is launched for men, they will most certainly opt for it.” I assumed that you are using these columns as a barometer of what people want. If this indeed is true, then I insist that men don’t want women with fairer pubic areas. I say this because it would be pathetic for me to say women shouldn’t please their men. And I don’t want you to think I am pathetic. I also think men should please their women by giving them a square of Cadbury Dairy Milk and saying “I love you” in the most convolutedly romantic way possible. Yes, I did see that ad.
    In the first 2 seconds of the Intimate wash video does it not show the man single-mindedly-reading the newspaper while “neglecting” his wife pre-intimate-washing. Post-shower, he’s fishing for his keys in the not-so-dark crevices of her body. Ads (exceptions: sanitary napkins, tea and motor oil) are always framed in the context of gaining approval or snagging the object of your affection and attention. It would appear that the singular purpose of women’s existence is to look pretty and cook for their men. Poor men, if only the women would pay them attention instead of saying “mirror, mirror” all day.
    If women were to say diamonds are no substitute for love, should men feel offended?
    If women were to say that the 100% cotton vest is really not a game changer, should men feel offended?
    If women were to say that they like a little stubble on their men, should men feel offended?
    If these advertisements are being framed in the context of “what will make you most attractive to The Other” then The Other should speak up isn’t it?
    It does occur to me that perhaps you were just being contrarian simply for the sake of debate. But I respect your opinion all the same and proffered mine because you were kind enough to let me comment on your blog. Thanks again for engaging me in this discussion and responding to me. I appreciate the time and courtesy.

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  22. Did you pick the ad or the subject first ? :)

    With that out of the way, let's get down to sunday morning refereeing

    There are ads and then there are ads:

    http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665311/why-microsofts-vision-of-the-future-is-dead-on-arrival

    There is a lot of techno-babble in there but just contrast the two videos in there.

    Ads are always about creating demand but people do get tired of this "selling the sand castle to a Bedouin" stuff after a while.

    I think ads can sometimes be totally escapist but more often they can be effective if they offer to "fix-you-up" just a little better than where and how you are.

    Gorgeous woman stepping out of a BMW or someone giving up a prized parking spot at a mall for a villager in an Audi.

    >>In India, there is most certainly a bias with a preference for fairer skin. But it is not based on caste or religion, but region.

    The bias seems to be much more widely prevalent, although given the racial and ethnic diversity of India (and much higher and easy premium on fair skin); it became almost an obsession.

    and history is stubborn (esp. for those who can't find any other context):

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/05/23/the-data-are-in-regarding-satoshi-kanazawa/

    I guess Horton the Elephant must be lying when he said "then your mom must be just like my mom, because she is pretty too !".

    and of course, I am sure you have heard of Larry Summers' esteemed opinion,

    http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2005/01/19/harvard_womens_group_rips_summers/?page=full

    Yes, in the interest of scientific inquiry, freedom of expression and independent thinking, you are allowed to put your foot in your mouth and then complain about public humiliation that follows.

    >>I find it pathetic that there is anger about a woman pleasing a man.

    It's all about the context. The keyword here is "consensual".

    In my line of work (electrical engineering), we routinely come across terms like "master" and "slave" and it often creates awkwardness even when context is as benign as it can be.

    >>Men try hard; women do so too.

    That is when "pleasing" becomes a "job". You know how we all feel about a "job" or a "duty" ...

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  23. Hitesh:

    I've reached saturation point on this subject. What more can I say? Thanks for adding to it, albeit a bit late.

    Did you pick the ad, the subject or my piece first? :)

    Dion:

    Thanks for sharing that link.

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  24. Invictus:

    Maybe, but knowing men they would not want to call it an Intimate Wash.

    Rizwan:

    Am glad you like healthy debate. Your first comment was "bold, but why the first para". I guess by healthy you mean a bit of bulimia is necessary!

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  25. FV
    Aren't we getting more intimate in sex? While kissing your bride in the mouth some years back was not so regular but today MNCs want us to go kissing somewhere else to. I haven't seen such a pro woman ad.

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  26. Cathartist:

    If there is something to chew on, I bite...you are welcome. You took the trouble, and I felt the need to answer some questions.

    We still disagree, and that's okay.

    Just 2 points:

    The Sex advice columns I spoke about are deluged with men concerned about the dark shade of their genital area.

    If not agreeing to certain views makes me contrarian then I am. If it was for debate, even better. But perhaps you might ask those who started this that they were being contrarian too.

    This isn't the only topic where I have not followed accepted rules, so it is par for the course.

    Thanks for stopping by and discussing your views.

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  27. FV said, "I've reached saturation point on this subject."

    Loved the double entendre of that line, intentioned or not. I know you're not one to miss a trick. It put a smile on my face.

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  28. Dion:

    I thought that without a smiley I'd get away...my trick's a treat, I reckon? (Although Hitesh might have expected more engagement on my part on the subject at hand.)

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  29. The Indian women folk went ballistic, as if saying..."we have the hardware that does not need any software"

    That was a very clever use of words. And I am fond of witty phrases. Nice writing.

    Amitabha,
    Tribe.net

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