I have been thinking lately about the growing social outrage against crimes against women. Sadly though, our beliefs and values as individuals and collectively as a society which lead to such crimes thrive more than ever. That women are a ‘commodity’ manifests blatantly through different forms of popular culture yet it never strikes us as ‘unnatural’. These manifestations appear so ‘small’ or ‘insignificant’ to be noticed or debated upon.
There is something that I have been noticing for some time and I do think it merits a discussion. We are far away as a society to reach even semblance of gender equity. Yet, there is something very wrong when sexism permeates the DNA of the day to day practices and furthers the vicious cycle.
One such sexist practice that I find myself staring at fairly often is while booking a cab from the TaxiForSure service. At the end of the journey, the service escalates a message for customer feedback. Here are some snapshots:
I have booked the service nearly a dozen times and every single time, the automated message quotes a female name. This may seem like a really small thing but every time I get the message, I find it to be very odd. I have never received a message from a ‘Rahul’ or ‘Rohit’ but always from an ‘Aliya’, ‘Deepika’, ‘Sheeba’ or ‘Pooja’. I find the subtext to be fairly sexist: In a repressive society, a message masquerading to be from a woman has a much higher chance of feedback.
Of course TaxiForSure is not the first entity to do this nor in proportion that cinema or advertising or advertising practice sexism. Nor is this something new. In her 1970 book, ‘Female Eunuch’, Germaine Greer states:
“She is the Sexual Object sought by all men, and by all women…Her value is solely attested by the demand she excites in others. All she must contribute is her existence. She need achieve nothing, for she is the reward of achievement…”
“Every survey ever held has shown that the image of an attractive woman is the most effective advertising gimmick. She may sit astride the mudguard of a new car, or step into it ablaze with jewel; she may lie at a man’s feet stroking his socks; she may hold the petrol pump in a challenging pose…whatever she does her image sells.”
Equality between men and women has a long way to go. But for that to happen, we need to question the stereotypes that reinforce the inequality. There is something disturbing to see a business entity employ a stereotype as a daily business practice.
For me, this is a case of SexismForSure.