Capitalism at its best

Recently a 22-year-old college graduate with a BA in Women’s Studies was in the news for auctioning her virginity online…The highest bid – $3.8 million…This is her logic:

Like most little girls, I was raised to believe that virginity is a sacred gift a woman should reserve for just the right man. But college taught me that this concept is just a tool to keep the status quo intact. Deflowering is historically oppressive—early European marriages began with a dowry, in which a father would sell his virginal daughter to the man whose family could offer the most agricultural wealth. Dads were basically their daughters’ pimps.

When I learned this, it became apparent to me that idealized virginity is just a tool to keep women in their place. But then I realized something else: if virginity is considered that valuable, what’s to stop me from benefiting from that? It is mine, after all. And the value of my chastity is one level on which men cannot compete with me. I decided to flip the equation, and turn my virginity into something that allows me to gain power and opportunity from men. I took the ancient notion that a woman’s virginity is priceless and used it as a vehicle for capitalism.

My Comment: Her body, her property, her choice

A male Sri Ram Sena member’s comment: Her body, my property, my choice

Why are women treated the way they are?

Recent nauseating and blood curdling incidents like the Mangalore attack on young girls to protect the ‘honour’ of Hindu women by Sri Ram Sena hooligans and the ‘honour’ killing of a newly wed couple in Punjab made me wonder what the term ‘honour’ actually meant…

According to the Oxford Dictionary honour (noun) implies:

1. High respect
2. Pride and pleasure from being shown respect
3. A clear sense of what is morally right
4. A person or thing that brings credit

Neither of the above-mentioned acts was morally right (even though the goonadas of Sri Ram Sena claimed their intentions were in line with Hindu morality) or respectful (thrashing, molesting or murder of another human being indicates high disregard for feelings and rights of others)…These acts were plain criminal and were about power and control…

From where did the concept of women as vessels of religious, cultural, societal and familial reputations arise? It arose from men…Why are these crimes excusable and understandable? Because men say so…Across religions and cultures, women have always been looked upon as the property of men and not as human beings… If men (as they contend) are so concerned about their (own) honour, why aren’t they responsible for protecting it? Why should only women embody the honour of the men to whom they “belong”? Why can’t men embody the honour of the women in their family and community? Why aren’t rape, honour killings, alcoholism, adultery and domestic violence considered dishonourable and immoral? Again, because men say so…

Everything is ultimately about control…The need to curb and control the rights of women arose from the need for men to ensure that their children were biologically theirs…For some reason, (most) men consider name and bloodline to be the most important thing in the world…

This attitude of women as property of men is even enshrined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC):

Section 497: Adultery
Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rap, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall be punishable as an abettor.

Section 498: Enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman
Whoever takes or entices away any woman who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of any other man, from that man, or from any person having the care of her on behalf of that man, with intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person, or conceals or detains with that intent any such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

So, how does one resolve this situation? Will education do the job? Well, all this time I thought so (and still do) until I read this story:…

Two politicians accused of brutal attitudes towards women have been made cabinet ministers in Pakistan, causing outrage among human rights activists.
Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, charged with presiding over a “jirga” that gave away five young girls as a form of compensation, and Israr Ullah Zehri, who recently made international headlines after defending the burying alive of women in “honour-killing” cases, have been elevated to ministry positions.

Last year the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the Oxford-educated Mr Bijarani over the allegations, though he remained at liberty. He has been made minister for education…

…Mr Zehri, a member of a minor party in the coalition, has been made minister for postal services. Earlier this year, in response to news that three teenage girls had been buried alive for trying to choose husbands, he told the parliament it was a “tribal tradition”.

I still think education is important (and by this I don’t mean just learning how to read and write) but it has to be ‘backed-up’ by legal protection….Unless the current laws are changed, things will not improve…

The rule “You never hit a girl/woman ever” may seem antiquated but it still holds true…When will men realize that?

Lalu Goes Canadian

I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh when I read this in Hindustan Times this morning:

…Lalu (Prasad) is playing the role himself in the documentary “India Reborn” being shot by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

The only politician chosen by the CBC will be telling the story about his rise from the bucolic environs of his native Phulwaria village in remote Gopalganj district, where he spent his initial years as a cowherd, to becoming the minister of railways, the largest public sector undertaking in the country.

The four-hour documentary is to feature people from several walks of life including industry, information technology and agriculture who have left an indelible impact of their personality on the post-independence India.

Mr.Rove, spare us!

In an article in the WSJ, Mr. Karl Rove pays tribute to his former boss Mr.George W. Bush’s decision making abilities:

To start with, Mr. Bush was right about Iraq. The world is safer without Saddam Hussein in power. And the former president was right to change strategy and surge more U.S. troops.

A legion of critics (including President Barack Obama) claimed it couldn’t work. They were wrong. Iraq is now on the mend, the war is on the path to victory, al Qaeda has been dealt a humiliating defeat, and a democracy in the heart of the Arab world is emerging. The success of Mr. Bush’s surge made it possible for President Obama to warn terrorists on Tuesday “you cannot outlast us….”

…At home, Mr. Bush cut income taxes for every American who pays taxes. He also cut taxes on capital, investment and savings. The result was 52 months of growth and the strongest economy of any developed country…

…He was right to have modernized Medicare with prescription drug benefits provided through competition, not delivered by government. The program is costing 40% less than projected because market forces dominate and people — not government — are making the decisions…

The most laughable paragraph:

And Mr. Bush, a man of core decency and integrity, was right not to reply in kind when Democratic leaders called him a liar and a loser. The price of trying to change the tone in Washington was to be often pummeled by lesser men.

(Karl Rove was Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007)

My Comment: Mr.Rove, if Mr.Bush were so right how did he manage to leave such a mess?

Are Sanjay and Manyata Dutt hoodwinking the public?

Yes, they are…The couple is trying to make us believe that theirs is a traditional Indian family in which the man of the house takes all the decisions…Give me a break!!!

“He has to take the decision. I take permission from him even if I have to go for coffee or dinner with friends. My priority is my family. He will decide if it is right or not right for me.”

(Manyata Dutt in a TV interview – TOI)

Isn’t this the same woman who did that raunchy item number in Prakash Jha’s movie Gangajal? She also did a B grade movie called Lovers Like Us, the rights of which have been bought by her husband so that nobody can see it (not that anybody did!)…I’m sure Mrs.Dutt’s parents didn’t say,”Ja beta, kaprhe utaar ke movie me naach le…” She did what she did because she wanted to…

As for Mr.Dutt, he has started believing that he is Munnabhai, the present day Gandhian…His political aspirations have obviously sprouted from a seed sown and watered by his wife (so much for tradition!)…To portray himself as an aam aadmi, he has suddenly become a MCP:

The actor recently said that there was only one “Mr and Mrs Dutt” in Pali Hill. When asked to clarify, he said,

“There’s nothing wrong in it. All I was trying to say is that it’s a tradition to keep your husband’s surname. Even Indira Gandhi took her husband’s surname.”

(TOI)

Sanjay Dutt has been married twice before…As far as I can remember, his former wives Richa Sharma and Rhea Pillai didn’t use the Dutt surname…Where was tradition then? He has lived-in with many women – was that traditional?

Our netas are masters of illusion and deception and Mr.and Mrs.Dutt have found themselves a good teacher in Amar Singh…I hope Sanjay Dutt’s stardom doesn’t overshadow his criminal past and deceptive and moronic character in the upcoming elections…People of Lucknow, please analyse and think before you vote! Don’t get taken in by the stardom!

A Whopper Of A Campaign

With the “Whopper Virgins “ campaign (December 2008), Burger King has bitten off more than it can chew…It may have generated the buzz the company desired but the campaign offends and entertains rather than do what it is supposed to do – sell its signature burgers…Instead of being ‘tasteful’ (given the fact that the marketing concept is based on the ‘taste test’) it is ‘tasteless’…

Whoppers (Burger King) and Big Macs (McDonald’s) were taken to a rural farming village in Romania, a remote village in Thailand and an outpost in Greenland and locals were asked to taste the fare… The ‘big advertising idea’ was to find “Whopper Virgins” who had never tried a burger before and were unaware of the rivalry between McDonald’s and Burger King…






TV Ad : Youtube

One ad asks, “What happens if you take Transylvanian farmers who have never eaten a burger and ask them to compare Whopper versus Big Mac in the world’s purest taste test?” Will they prefer the Whopper? These are the Whopper Virgins.” The results of the “purest taste test” were ‘undeniable’ given the fact that only Burger King representatives were involved in the ‘test’ and 13 planes, two dog sleds and one helicopter were used…

“If you want a real opinion about a burger, ask someone who doesn’t even have a word for burger”, “Watch the whopper virgins take their first bite”, “Whopper or Big Mac. TheWhopper virgins will decide”, state other ads…

What critics have to say about this campaign:

– Brian Morrissey of (Adfreak.com) likens the campaign to colonialism and declares it “embarrassing and emblematic of how ignorant Americans still seem to the rest of the world.”

– Barbara Lippert (adweek.com) – “Really, what does this prove? If your palate is accustomed to local, non-processed, non-trans-fat-filled food, these Whoppers, tasty and addictive though they may be, would be mass-market weapons of intestinal destruction. It’s kind of cruel. Also, in proper taste testing of pre-made food, there’s so much complicated criteria — from “mouthfeel” to bun flavor — that this is like asking someone who’s never seen a moving image to be an Emmy judge.”

– Alan Siegel (chairman of Siegel + Gale, an Omnicom Group branding firm) – the ads “could be interpreted as the crass part of America talking to the Third World.”

What I think
– the ads are outrageous, insulting and exploitative but have done their job of creating a buzz…Don’t know if Whopper sales have increased though…

What do you think?

Advertising and Web 2.0

Social networking is a rage today and advertisers are trying to cash in on this phenomenon…Burger King came up with a Facebook application called Whopper Sacrifice which required users to ‘sacrifice’ 10 friendships in order to receive a coupon for a free Whopper…

Faced with high abandonment rates (82,000 people deleted 233,906 friends), Facebook decided to discontinue this application stating that it violated its privacy policy…Normally when a person is de-friended, he or she may not even notice but not in this case…Part of the Whopper application made sure that each of the 10 friends ditched got a nice note alerting him or her to the fact that he or she had been de-friended…Facebook’s privacy policy may have been violated but they were more worried about the high de-listing rates…In other words, Burger King’s campaign was successful…It was controversial enough to get them tons of press coverage without really offending many people…And what does it say about Facebook users and society in general? A $3 burger is worth more than staying in touch with friends…

Check out Burger King’s site : Whopper Sacrifice