An Ariel ad from India commenting on gender roles in the most poignant and touching way I have seen in a long time went viral a couple of days ago, sparking awareness of gender realities in Indian homes. The award-winning ad shows, and in effect comments on, heteronormative gender stereotypes in a home, highlighting a number of issues that women deal with, not just in India but all over the world. From unpaid work to what Melinda Gates calls time poverty (hers is the second part of the letter, so scroll down to get to it) to male apathy, the ad features a mother getting home from work, and managing her home, while doing additional work on her laptop and phone. It is beautifully shot and scripted, and is accompanied by a touching voice over in the form of an apology from her father.
The father apologises for not doing anything to stop her from thinking she has to do all the housework alone. He references the structures in which kids are raised, where kids mimic what they see at home and role-play it. He apologises on behalf of her husband’s parents, that they too did nothing to teach their son to share the load; and on behalf of all fathers who set the wrong example for their children. As if that’s not tear jerking enough, he promises to help his wife with housework, because it is not too late for him to make a change. When he gets home, he unpacks his own bag, and helps his wife with the laundry. All these years, he’s been wrong, it’s time to set things right.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says of the ad, “This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen – showing how stereotypes hurt all of us and are passed from generation to generation. When little girls and boys play house they model their parents’ behavior; this doesn’t just impact their childhood games, it shapes their long-term dreams... The real win is the way they are changing stereotypes and showing that a more equal world would be a better world for all of us. Dads, #ShareTheLoad and #LeanInTogether for equality.”
Although this is an ad for a product, the commentary it provides is apt for this generation; looking back, looking forward, confronting dangerous stereotypes, pushing for equality and fairness between sexes. Well done!