October 08, 2010

Never mind where I like it

 All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach 
- Adolf Hitler

Last year, it was a barrage of facebook pages with headings proclaiming "Blue!" or "Green" or "Black!". Meant to be a reference to the colour of the page owner's bra, supposedly the campaign left 'men everywhere wondering' (and some women, I'll have them know!). It caused a momentary stir, it caught the attention of the Daily Mail, perhaps the Sunday Times. We learnt later it was to 'create awareness' on the subject of breast cancer.

I admit I'm not quite aware about breast cancer and I agree that there's always room for a bit more learning. However when my fifty year old aunt puts up "Purple!" on her facebook status, we are in treacherous 'too much information' territory. Did I really need to know that she's wearing a purple bra... did anyone?

Today, its the "I like it..." statuses, telling us where each woman likes to keep her bag, though at first glance it seems like the woman is referring to where she likes to have sex...'I like it on the kitchen counter (invariably extracting a 'ooo saucy!' comment from some budding comic)' I will concede that when I googled the reason, I was given a cursory reminder about the presence of breast cancer. Can I be honest though? It was just that; Cursory.

It's not that I don't want to show solidarity with my fellow females. It's not that I've burnt my bras during an ill-advised 'I wish i was born in the 60s' phase or that, half the time even I don't know where I've dumped my bag. It's simply that, I just don't see the point.

Yes, people googled the facebook status prank. Yes, they learnt it was in support of a breast cancer charity. Did they learn anything further? (apart from me, who learnt that her aunt may have a funky side). Perhaps it was just me, but once I figured out what the statuses meant, I was done. There was no useful information about breast cancer to be found in relation to the campaign. There was nothing about how to detect it or how to combact it. Not so much as a measley hyperlink.

So I have to ask myself, apart from causing a two second stir and providing amusement to a few people on the day, what did the campaign achieve? I also have to ask - given the severity of the situation, where 1 out of every 22 Indian women are likely to encounter the disease, shouldn't there be a more serious approach to disseminating information about it? Shouldn't providing comprehendible intelligence in an accessible manner take up more of our time and attention than where we may or may not like to have sex? (plus lets just face this grown up fact - sex is sex - whoever it was fun with on the bed, it'll be fun with, on the kitchen counter.)

Do we really need to bare our bras and resort to sexual innuendoes of the high school variety to draw attention towards a serious and important public health issue?

And my other problem with these campaigns: in great specificity, it's this particular line that was also passed on to me:  "Ladies unite while keeping the men guessing."

It's a cute take on the usual 'Battle of the Sexes', I'll give you that but that's exactly what it implies - the two sexes are most occupied when engaged against each other. Maybe it's just me but isn't this is just a slightly pathetic reflection on our sub-culture?

The primary targets of this campaign may be women, but its been designed to get just as much attention from men. Which means, someone studied the two demographics and came to the conclusions that women bond best when its against men and similarly a focus group indicated that these innuendoes were the only effective way to capture male attention for the campaign see also beer commercial set in a car wash cliché. Now perhaps these things are all true and it's me whose being slow to catch on but this seems like a stunted view of our society, of men and women and is tantamount to gender profiling.

If I believed that this was true, then I would also have to believe that the glass ceiling still exists or that all good looking women sleep their way to the top or that every time a man holds the door open for me he does so with ulterior motives.

Yes it's all very cute, but isn't it expecting just a bit too little from our intelligence, time and sense of humour?

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