Why do we have to make it all about ‘balance’ exclusively when it comes to women?

Vim Indias new ad features a woman gram Pradhan She still has to wash the dishes thoughYouTube screenshot
Features Gender Monday, August 15, 2016 - 13:02

Vim India has released a new ad about the woman gram Pradhan of Nizampur village on the eve of India's 70th Independence Day. But there just isn't enough vim to the idea of women's emancipation that it espouses. 

Afroz Jahan is a mother of four who lives with her husband and mother-in-law. The ad begins with a male voice telling us that people think women in India are good enough just to get married, have kids and look after the home. What else can they do?

But here’s Afroz, who was encouraged to stand for the gram Pradhan elections by her husband - he felt that she was a better candidate for the post than he was because she has studied more than him. Afroz tells us about her work, others speak about how she has changed their lives.

It’s all good…until we come to the end of the video. The ‘inspirational’ music suddenly becomes pious and Afroz tells us that she’s the Pradhan but she’s also a home-maker. We then have a shot of her washing dishes with Vim soap.

There’s nothing wrong at all with anyone, in any position, washing dishes. With whatever soap. But why do we feel so compelled to juxtapose women’s professional success with their efforts on the domestic front all the time?

Whether it’s the woman boss in the Airtel ad, the sexist coverage of women athletes at the Olympics or Afroz, why do we have to make it all about ‘balance’ exclusively when it comes to women?

This is not a criticism of Afroz or her husband. Perhaps the husband does contribute to housework while Afroz is out meeting people and solving problems all through the day. Maybe he even uses Vim soap while doing the dishes!

This is about how Vim has appropriated this story and chosen to tell it to us. Making it palatable enough for those of us who cannot handle a woman’s success if she isn’t also simultaneously a domestic goddess.

The video ends with Afroz telling us that the entire village is now her home. Inspirational…but within the same-old lakshman rekha.

Watch the vim ad here:


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