Of Dotted, Flavoured and Scented

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.

  1. #1 by Donald on January 24, 2008 - 5:52 pm

    Condom advertisements are similar in the US. Probably a worldwide thing. But if you want the population to start using contraceptives, and having responsible sex, you need to grab the attention of the population. This is the way to do it. If they can establish the concept of condom usage even in men’s wildest fantasies, maybe they won’t think it unmanly to use it during actual intercourse.

    And in the context of Bangladesh, you have to target the men. Which group is plying the streets in larger numbers? Men! So the likelihood of a woman buying the condom is lower than a man. Thus, target the likelier buyer. Also, with almost 100% of sellers of condoms being men, do you really expect a typical Bangladeshi woman to have the guts to go up to the counter and buy a condom? She is already trying to avoid the vision of her being seen as loose. And we know how gossip spreads here.

    Lastly, a condom should be the man’s responsibility. With it being the only form of contraception, beyond vasectomy, for the male, it needs to be pushed hard on them to use it. Its also the cheapest and easiest to use form of all contraceptive techniques. The male needs to learn to take the responsibility of safe sex into their own hands, and if that means suggestive masculine fantasies on tv, then so be it. It may not cast women in the best role, but it gets the message across, and it keeps STDs from spreading.

  2. #2 by Emil on February 4, 2008 - 10:25 pm

    Dost… I was wrong. Bangladesh is making progress. (grin)
    That’s the trouble with being away from watching TV for so long… You miss these things.

  3. #3 by Russell on June 23, 2008 - 9:51 pm

    LOL, I just can’t stop laughing now. This is a hilarious post! 😀

    I completely agree with Donald… he explained it very nicely.

    I prefer calling today’s youngsters the Djuice generation… it’s an insult to Google to call them the Google generation.

    And ah, we had that book in the 6th grade. Good memories! ;

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