Mother’s Day gifts debate!

(Design: Jordan News)
Whether in March, like Jordan, May like India or October, like Argentina, more than 50 countries in the world celebrate Mother’s Day.اضافة اعلان

While the occasion is meant to honor mothers, it often is also the time when businesses of all sorts see fit to place ads and announce discounts on housewares and kitchen utensils on every media platform, making one wonder what the hidden message is.

Is it intended to put women down by peddling the standard stereotype of women’s role in society? Is it the ultimate gift to give to a woman who is a mother or is it just a marketing strategy used on occasions of any kind?

Alaa Abdelrahman, a teacher and mother of three young children had this to say: “It used to bother me a lot, a couple of years ago, to find these ads only on Mother’s Day; you do not see them on Labor Day, for example, in order to help working moms! But recently I have been looking at this from another angle. I see them now as a good opportunity to buy or renew some of my home appliances due to the really good prices during this sales season.”

At the same time, however, “I always encourage my children to get me any kind of a symbolic gift, like a card or even a flower, along with the gift they decide to give me, just to teach them that it is the meaning and thought they put into a gift that matters.”

According to Abdelrahman, there has been a noticeable change in that past few years in offers for Mother’s Day.

“You can see now that all kinds of brands and goods are promoted during this sales season, such as watches, perfumes and even spa time; all are offering meaningful gifts for mothers, and it is up to the individual to choose the best gift for their mom.”

Inaam Al-Asha, a human and women rights activist, and the manager of the Solidarity Is Global Institute–Tadamon (SIGI), stated that “as long as the ad does not offend women, like many of the ads we see on a daily basis, there is no harm in actually buying houseware items for mothers in order to make their daily tasks easier”.

On March 20, social media users were outraged by an ad that went viral in Jordan, which presented a rice brand whose quality would prevent women who use it from getting divorced.

Tadamon, among many other women's rights organizations, called the advertisement offensive, and said that it shows no regard for the institution of marriage or for Jordanian family values.

Limiting women’s roles on media platforms and in advertisements to that of merely house wives affects the subconscious of the receiver of the message and builds this stereotypical image that downgrades women’s achievements in different areas of life, so “it is our responsibility to fight it and the society’s responsibility to reject it as well”, according to Asha.
The problem is not only in the Arab world; worldwide women are objectified in advertisements and treated as a commodity.
Gender equality guidelines in advertisement is what Deema Alnadi — Jordanian feminist activist who earned her degree in women’s studies at Jordan University — believes “we need to work on as a culture”.

“The problem is not only in the Arab world; worldwide women are objectified in advertisements and treated as a commodity,” she said.

According to Alnadi, “the type of women we see in advertisements on most media platforms does not look like us; they are far from reality”.

“All we see in ads nowadays are women with no wrinkles or scars and with perfectly shaped bodies, and this affects [the perception of a] healthy body image of women everywhere,” Alnadi said.

Advertising and the media have a huge impact on society’s attitudes and behavior, therefore they should be dealt with and monitored. Although there is a shift toward empowering women, one may still be surprised every now and then by the choice of some advertisers who wish to bring the society back to the point where one feels obliged to defend women’s roles in society, hoping that one day they will be represented as they deserve.

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