It’s difficult to watch certain television commercials, and not criticize them. It almost seems they’re begging for that extra bit of attention, and thus, that extra bit of humiliation. Since Bangladesh is recently growing awareness on AIDS and contraceptives, the private channels occasionally telecast one of the three ‘safe sex’ ads in the market. I’m not a feminist, but the sexist aspect of these commercials is a bit too evident. Women are portrayed as mere tools that are dangling around THE man’s neck for sex. THE man is THE saviour who bestows the woman’s virginity with some good sex.
One of these ads that come with a bizarre and hilarious one-liner had particularly caught my attention. The guy is a regular, predictable macho who’s willing to jump down mountains and swim across oceans to save the love of his life. Nonetheless, this noteworthy young man was mountain climbing when he hears the desperate scream of a girl for help. The scream triggered testosterone secretion in the man and with godlike strength and speed; he climbs the mountain and jumps off cliffs, rushing to the rescue. He dives into the foaming, rocky waterfall and saves the girl (who, by the way, is still screaming). The ad ends with a bonfire and spirited youngsters dancing around it, where our hero and his beloved are at the centre of all attention. Here comes the one-liner: “Hero Condom – Shobshomoy Ready” (translate: Hero Condom – Always Prepared).
Bottom line: our guy saves the day in return of good sex.
Maybe I’m exaggerating. In a country where a large percentage of the population is still uneducated, such ads are straightforward and will reach out to the masses. As opposed to these, the symbolic sex shown in Moods Condom – an Indian product – may not wholesomely deliver the underlying message to the general public.
But, the question remains whether the message reaches to the public at all. In a society, where the very issue of pre-marital affairs seems to burn down a ‘respectable’ family’s reputation, sex would be an unforgivable sin. The majority of the population are Muslims, and pre-marital fornication is considered to be the express route to Hell in Islam. With such religious and social restrictions, one would think oh-what-the-hell; unprotected sex isn’t an issue of concern around here. Correct me if I’m wrong, but approximately, 70 percent of the country comprises of the fearless and ruthless Google Generation, and they’re not very worried about sins and blazing fires of Hell.
Google Generation, or WE, don’t believe in luck, choose to control our fate and love bragging about how we’re better than everyone else around us. It ranges from pesky 14-year-olds in schools and streets, to the now-or-never spirited university goers and entrepreneurs. Awareness needs to reach this group before anyone else, and with the way things are run, I doubt if much of message reaches them.
In 7th grade, we were properly introduced to Biology and a very interesting chapter called Sexual Reproduction. The boys would sneer at the 2D pictures of naked adults; while the girls would feel a slight pang of embarrassment at the pit of their stomachs. From each copy of the textbooks, pages 124-126 were neatly removed and if anyone was curious enough to look up the content page, you’ll find out that those pages were on contraceptives and STDs.