The Speech That Made Obama Popular

July 27, 2004. It was the day America met Barack Obama, then the Illinois State Senator and soon to be the future president of the United States of America. Obama made history by charming million of viewers at one go while giving the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Boston, Massachusetts for John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Obama’s speech as a keynote speaker was extremely charismatic and powerful and connected to the mass audience because of his skillful use of rhetoric appeal like pathos to persuade them to endorse John Kerry in the upcoming presidential election.

Obama succeeded in connecting to the audience mostly through emotions such as fear, joy, need etc. One example would be when he talked about his ancestry, how his grandfather worked in oil rigs and the day after Pearl Harbor he joined up in Patton’s army. Later his grandfather along with thousand others marched across Europe. Here he connects himself to the people by merging himself with the same general crowd, many of whose ancestors did the same by becoming a part of the march across Europe that he mentioned. But then he draws contrast by talking about his other grandfather who was a domestic servant to the British, who sent his son to the land of hope, America, with larger dreams. Here he portrays America as the land of opportunity, as the land of dreams, as the land where anything is possible, even for sons and grandsons of domestic servants like cooks. He still uses more pathos to relate to the audience present there.

One other successful use of pathos can be seen when he merges his ancestry and positions himself as the ‘common dream, born of two continents’, Kansas, America and Kenya, Africa. He says that his parents shared an unbelievable love and an everlasting faith in the opportunities in this country, in the possibilities in this country. He appeals to the American crowd with his American ancestry and also appeals to the African American crowd assuring them that a person’s race will not affect their chances at an opportunity. The evidence for this claim can be seen when he mentions in the speech that his name ‘Barack’ is an African name meaning blessed and in America a person’s name can never stand as a barrier to their success and by saying this he lays down a marker that if you oppose the African-American people then you yourself are an anti-American. These parts of his speech have an amazing effect on the crowd.

He uses several more instances of pathos when he talks about all that he has seen around in his past months in the Senate Office in Illinois. He talks without a period in his sentence, increasing the effectiveness of his speech on the audience when assures them that he knows all the hardships people have to face in this land of dreams:

More work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children; for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour; more to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears, wondering how he would pay 4500 dollars a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on; more to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college. (FDCH E-media, The Washington Post)

These lines are so effective and powerful as they talk about the common people and the condition they are living in, in that present situation. He connects to those thousands of people who have lost jobs or who have not enrolled in college because of financial crisis and lets them know that he knows their pain, that he understands their suffering. He says that people everywhere do not believe that the government can solve all their problems, which they do not believe that the government can teach all their children unless and until the parents themselves work hard on it too and educate them that sayings such as a young black student carrying a book is trying to act white is very wrong:

Go into any inner city neighbourhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach our kids to learn; they know that parents have to teach, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.(FDCH E-media, The Washington Post)

And this is where Obama tells them that there is still hope for those who know how to hope, that with a slight change in the priorities and with the help of the government, every child in the United States of America can have a shot at studying and going to college and having a decent life which is one of the reasons why his speech was so successful. He lets them know again and again that there is at the very least one person who can understand what they are going through. He assures that where there is opportunity of prosperity and success, anything can be achieved through hard work, perseverance and determination.

When Obama talks about what John Kerry believes in, he again relates to the audience by telling them everything they want to hear – the creation of jobs, proper health coverage, energy independence, Constitutional freedoms etc. He uses small anecdotes to make his points stronger. For instance he talks about a guy named Shamus who joined the Marine Corps and is about to serve in Iraq and that the government owes it to him to secure his family’s future just the way Shamus is securing America’s future. He assures everyone that John Kerry knows that there are thousands of youth like Shamus who are serving for America and that he is going to ensure their health benefits even if it is a broken limb or nervous breakdowns. By saying all these he gets the audience to believe that John Kerry wants the best for America, wants the best for the American people. There is another use of pathos and he’s appealing to fear when Obama tells the audience that America has enemies, that here are people who do not want America to have power, to rule, to prosper. But these enemies can be overthrown or can be protected from. He shows evidence by stating that John Kerry has served in the war with Vietnam to protect the people and he would not hesitate to protect them from harm in the future.

Later in the speech he talks about America being one, America being the “United States” of America and this is pathos again. He tells them:

I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America – there’s the United States of America. The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an “awesome God” in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. (FDCH E-media, The Washington Post)

The way he rapidly goes about his speech, it emphasizes on each and every word he says and he knows it and uses it to his benefit. He brings all races and types of people of America under one Umbrella and gives them a common ground. He tells the citizens of America to keep their hopes up, because without hope there wouldn’t be dreams and without dreams there wouldn’t be prosperity. He ensures everyone that John Kerry is the best candidate for President and John Edwards is the best candidate for Vice President and if they want equality, if they want opportunities and prosperity, then they would vote for them. Also the audience reacted surprisingly well to his speech because it was so powerful and charismatic and it succeeded in relating to the common people of America.

The proper use of rhetorical strategies in this speech, Obama’s ability to talk to a large crowd successfully and connect to them makes him very popular amongst the masses as well as the Senate Office. The right kind of message at the right time is what made Obama’s speech so charismatic. Every part of his speech shows his empathy to the citizens of America. His skillful use of words and emotion is what still makes him popular even today.


Works Consulted

THNKR. “The Speech That Made Obama President”. Online video Clip. Youtube. Youtube, 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

Wood, Aaron. “First Analysis – Obama’s 2004 DNC Cpeech”. speechanalysed. Speechanalysed, 7 June. 2011. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.


Work Cited

E-media, FDCH. “Transcript: Illinois Senate Candidate Barack Obama”. The Washington Post. n.p. 27 July. 2004. Web. 22 Feb. 2015


Bihari Statelessness: Injustice to Humanity

The term ‘statelessness’ has become quite common in today’s world. Syrians, Balochs, Kurds, Rohingyas – these names have been popping up in newspapers for decades now. And ever since the Liberation War, the Urdu-speaking Bihari communities have been stranded in Bangladesh with no place to call home. The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 was the root cause of the statelessness of the Biharis. Many Hindus at that time opted to migrate to India and many Muslims migrated to Pakistan. Pakistan at that time was itself divided into two regions, West and East Pakistan, the head governing body and power residing in West Pakistan. Many years later in 1971, after East Pakistan (Bangladesh) won the liberation war against West Pakistan, many Urdu-speaking Pakistanis found themselves stranded on the wrong side of the divided country in Bangladesh. When these stranded Pakistanis appealed to their homeland to accept them as Pakistani nationals, the appeals fell on deaf ears. According to the 2005 UNHCR Statistical Yearbook, there were approximately 250,000 stateless people living in Bangladesh in 66 refugee camps throughout the country. But even though Bangladesh has given them space to reside throughout the country and nationality, they do not receive the same citizen rights including education, medical facilities, sanitation, proper housing, employment etc. And even now, Pakistan fails to recognize them as their own although many of these stranded ‘Pakistanis’ are waiting to be repatriated to their homeland. The government of Bangladesh issued nationality to these stranded Pakistanis in 2008, but even after 44 years of Liberation, there has been almost no upgrades in terms of their rights or their living conditions.

One way to see the continuing deprivation in which the Biharis live is to consider their lack of access to healthcare. According to Ahsan and Hussain, even though some medical assistance and help was provided to the camp dwellers by the authorities, only 30% of these camp Biharis were able to spend money on medicines and different medical purposes. Even now, an average of 10 people have to live in a single room to accommodate a population as large as that mentioned above in 66 different camps and settlements (UNHCR). This in turn causes a greater risk of acquiring infectious diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, dysentery etc which is worsened by the fact that none of these camps or settlements has proper sanitation or proper waste/garbage disposal systems. According to a survey by the RS Foundation, it shows that 60 percent of infants die before reaching the age of 5 due to poverty and other related factors like social marginalization and discrimination. Displaced population camp (DPC) residents do not have proper access to medical facilities, which makes women vulnerable to unsafe delivery and chronic diseases. Moreover, living in close proximity with animals increases the risk of diseases even more. According to Lynch and Cook, in one camp, only two working wells supplied water to 650 families while in Mirpur’s Millat Camp, there was only one latrine for 6,000 people. A very limited number of clinics exist, while many of these camps do not receive healthcare at all.


Another thing Biharis lack even today is access to quality education. The school facilities in these camps are next to zero. A few informal schools have been established for the Urdu-speaking children living in the camps amongst their own communities but these children do not receive the same level of education as the rest of the Bangladeshis. Kelly writes, “A camp or settlement address is a virtual bar to admittance to government-funded schools and to most jobs in the formal sector.” According to Lynch and Cook, the school in Saardar Bahardur Camp closed last year due to lack of funding and in Adamgee Camp, only six boys from an entire camp progressed to secondary school. The condition is so grave that most teachers are not being paid their salaries while students have to study in shifts. Moreover, when new books were requested from the Minister of education, the requests were immediately turned down. Bangladesh’s economy, although said to be one of the fastest growing ones, is still poor. And this when added up to the lack of education in the Bihari community leaves an extremely small window of job or employment opportunities for these refugees, whether it be inside the camps or on the outside. And those who are able to secure jobs ultimately end of being harassed or discriminated. The government does not do anything to place these people in proper schools or jobs mostly because they aren’t seen as ‘true’ citizens of Bangladesh even though they have received their national identities. Bangladesh, being an agriculture and garments import/export country, has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. According to an article in Business Insider titled “The Ten Fastest Growing Economies in the Next 40 Years”, Bangladesh is at number 4 with a predicted GDP of 5 trillion dollars by 2050. The main means of income in Bangladesh is agriculture as well as the garments sector. These two sectors largely provide employment to a huge number of Bangladeshi nationals. But when Biharis apply for these jobs, their ethnicity and dwellings at camps practically creates a bar for them to acquire the job. Their means of income are informal jobs at very low wages which leads to problems such as poor medical attention in their families. The government fails to provide them employment opportunities that can upgrade their conditions even by a small percentage.


However, Bangladesh has done most of what it could do to provide for these refugees. Being a third world country, it already lacks the resources to fully provide for its own citizens, let alone feed, clothe and take care of 250,000 more. Mondaland Haquewrite that Bangladesh has one of the highest population density in the world, 976 per sq km. Moreover, keeping up with the rapidly growing needs of the urban cities, it is an excessive burden and a matter of concern to feed these people. Bangladesh does not have surplus cash to house what they say are citizens but who are not treated as such, but still it is doing as much as it can in the name of humanity.But, Bangladesh fails to realize that they are already housing these Biharis and they are a part of the 160 million population of Bangladesh. Lynch and Cook writes about several of the recommendation given by UNHCR, donor governments and Refugee International to the governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan on how to deal with the current refugee crisis. They say that it is in the best interest of these refugees to be relocated to Pakistan or affirming citizenship in Bangladesh or if needed, to relocated the refugees to a third country. They also recommend collaborating with local and international NGOs as well as the UN to provide the basic rights like clean water, school, job opportunities, healthcare etc to the refugees. UNHCR recommends developing and implementing a program which provides these refugees humanitarian assistance until a more permanent solution is found. While donor governments suggest that more funding should be provided to prevent loss of nationality and assistance and also to resolve statelessness.


Biharis suffer because of the lack of access of basic human rights.The rights of these amp dwellers and settlers are profoundly being ignored most of the time. Such is the case that they receive little education, few employment opportunities and even less medical and health facilities which are the basic human rights of any citizen in any country. Finally, even though Bangladesh is doing what it can, it is still failing to provide the rights to these stranded citizens who now called themselves Bangladeshis.

Works Cited


“2005 UNHCR Statistical Yearbook Country Data Sheet – Bangladesh.”UNHCR News. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

“The Displaced Population Camps in Bangladesh.” RS Foundation. RS Foundation, 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 20 Dec. 2015.

Ahsan, Rosie Majid, and Shahnaz Huq Hussain. “A Review of Socio-economic and Nutritional     Issues of Bihari Camp Dwellers in Bangladesh: A Micro Study”. GeoJournal 20.3     (1990): 285–291. Web. 19 Nov 2015.

Lynch, Maureen, and Thatcher Cook. “Citizens of Nowhere.” Refugees International, 2006. Web. 20 Dec. 2015.

Kelley, Ninette. “Ideas, Interests, and Institutions: Conceding Citizenship in Bangladesh”. The University of Toronto Law Journal 60.2 (2010): 349–371. Web. 19 Nov 2015.

Mondal, Md, and Sanaul Haque. “Land cover change, population dynamics and climate change: spatial and chronological transformation of Sundarbans and its adjacent areas, Bangladesh.”East West University 2015. Web. 2 Dec 2015.

SEX WORKERS: Stories Behind the Scenes

You can hear a little baby crying in that shrill, loud, ear-piercing way that you cannot imagine. You enter the run-down house which has paint peeling off its walls and fungus gathering on the floorboards. You step on the porch and it creaks, nobody notices though. You open the door and the outside light illuminates four faces who are looking at you. The baby stops crying for a while and looks up curiously at the shadow standing on the doorway.

Let me introduce you to the people here in the room. Meet Madhumati, she’s 40 years old and this has been her life for the last 30 years. Meet Bindu who is 27 years old and has been working here for the last 20 years. Meet her daughter Munmun, who is just 13 years old and the little baby girl you see in her arms, who is steadfastly and moreover curiously looking at you, is her younger sibling Keya, a 2 year old. Do you want to know who these women are? Are you able to guess? These are the sex workers living in the Kandapara brothel’s ruins in Tangail. Let them tell you their stories as you sit in the corner. Now try not to judge because the first thing people do when they hear the word sex workers or prostitutes is that they cringe away, even the ones who visit them for their own pleasure. But then have you ever wondered why they have come here in the first place is? Let’s listen to their side of the story this time…

Madhumati starts speaking in a slow raspy voice. She tells her story of horror, how she ran away from her home one dark night because her parents wanted her to marry a 30 year old man. She was 10, still in school and doing excellently. Her teachers used to say that one day she will make everyone proud, that she had the potential and determination of doing something useful with her life. She had begged her parents not to get her married, begged that she wanted to study further and create an identity for herself but to no avail. They beat her up and locked her in her room for two days without food. That’s when she decided to run away. Her mother was sleeping beside her on the bed the night she snuck out, she never even looked back once at her. She ran away into the night, boarded a train and lived on the stations off the money she had saved one two taka at a time every day for the last few years. But soon she ran out of money and had no place to go to. A man found her in a very bad condition, starving and suffering from fever, and he offered her food and water. He looked old to her at that time but now that she thinks about it, he wouldn’t be a day over 25 but then again, to a 10 year old girl a 25 year old would’ve looked old. He offered to enroll her in a school and give her work, something that will pay really well he said. It felt that an angel had come to rescue her and she immediately agreed with a smile. They boarded the train together and on the way he told her many stories of how he had helped many girls go to school and become a doctor or an engineer or an architect, how he gave them houses to live in and work to feed their own stomachs. She was nothing less than mesmerized and slept soundly on the train dreaming her dream to return home someday as a doctor. The next thing she remembers after opening her eyes is a strange man unbuttoning her frock and her own scream ringing in her ears. That night was the worst night in her life, worse than her parents beating her up or not giving her food. She remembers the pain even after all these years, she remembers her own screams and how overpowering the man was. She would never forget that night.

Bindu was sent to the brothel by her parents to work as a maid. In the beginning she did not understand much of what was actually going on but as time passed she understood how everything worked there and decided to become a sex worker herself. It was the attraction of money, and of feeling unsatisfied with her life that made her take this decision voluntarily. The men used to come and go as they please, pick their pleasure and spend a few hours with them. She learnt the tricks, one by one, of how to attract the men towards her. But she didn’t need to try much because she was prettier than most of the others there – she had round eyes and good cheekbones and full breasts and hips that men would want to be with. They would pay to stay the whole night with her, one even asked her to marry him but she refused knowing that this life was all that she had, this was all she knew how to do and she had to stick by her decision. Plus she had regular customers now, where would they go if she left? To that new girl Shayla next door? She couldn’t have let that happen, not after all the hard work she put in attracting these men. One morning she was feeling really uneasy so she went to one of the apa (sister) who had been there for as long as she could remember, one look at her and the apa told her that she was expecting. Terrible night that was, she felt like the world was snatched from beneath her legs. She obviously had no idea who the father was and even if she did, would he take her responsibility? Would he take on a child from a prostitute? After several nights cooped up in her room she finally decided she was going to have the baby and raise it there in the brothel. Many rose up in protest but she held her ground. Years later you can see her child, Munmun happily smiling at the camera and a second child Keya born the same way two years ago. Bindu says she is happy with the life she has lead but wonders what it would be like if she had not come here in the first place.

Munmun has a smile on her face, seems to be an everlasting smile. But little do we know about the pain that can be seen in her eyes, no matter how much she looks away or tries to hide. Listening to the stories of Madhumati’s life and the countless adventures she had inside the four walls of her classroom back then, Munmun felt inspired. She too wanted to become a doctor, a children’s doctor as she put it, mainly because she wanted to be able to take care of Keya, her little sister and may others like her. But there was a problem. When everyone at school found out where she lived and what her mother did for a living, everyone started behaving differently. Her ‘friends’ wouldn’t sit by her side anymore, or share her tiffin, or even talk to her. They called her names and slangs, ones you wouldn’t imagine children her age to know. They pointed fingers at her and laughed, made fun of her and were mean beyond measures. And their mothers, they wouldn’t even lower their voices when telling their daughters to stay away from a ‘dirty’ girl like her, well within earshot. There were tears in Munmun’s eyes as she looked away, trying to hide that one question that she was on the edge of asking. DOES SHE DESERVE THIS?

The room becomes silent all of a sudden as we come to an end of our visit here. You thank them wholeheartedly, get up and exit through the door, only to turn around and see little Keya still looking steadfastly at you. Except one little change, she had a big smile on her face. The kind of smile that is pure and innocent and can be seen on every baby’s face!

Post 1971 Liberation War: The New Offsprings

1971 to 2015. Forty-four long years. And in those four decades the two countries, Bangladesh and Pakistan, have come a long way. Now, I am no expert in this matter and everything I write is limited to my few years of looking beyond the four walls I live in but still here I am, writing about a topic which might offend a few people while still others agree.

I’ve come across different kinds of people who have different views of the friendship between the people of these two countries. They criticize, they mock, and they look at us differently. But why can’t these people be friends? Why can they not live harmoniously? 1971 was a long time back. Why do we let the things that have happened years before to rule how we socialize with each other? Bangladeshis blame Pakistanis and Pakistanis blame Bangladeshis. Why can’t the people who were not even affected back then just let it go?

A person I have recently come across, a 20 year old Bangladeshi, had quite a few comments about Pakistanis. His grandfather was tortured and killed by the Pak army. He recited the whole story to me which actually made me cringe, not because of what he said they did to his grandfather but because of the hatred that was clearly evident in his tone and expression. I tried to argue with him. Didn’t the Bangladeshi army torture and kill Pakistani people too? But my arguments fell on deaf ears. He just would not listen. Moreover, he scoffed at me for being a Bangladeshi and having Pakistani friends saying that the people in Pakistan call us traitors for having the audacity to divide the nation into two.

Returning to the point in hand, I would like to emphasize on the fact that history is written by winners. The side who wins, their stories are the ones being told worldwide. The side who wins, they are the ones who freely criticize the other side. But why? Can we not let the past be? Can we not stop judging every single Pakistani we come across?

I don’t mean to say forget our freedom fighters’ sacrifices. I don’t mean to say forget whatever happened before or during the War of Liberation. All I want to say is that, that was a different situation, a different world. Now the time is different, now the time has changed. The people born into today’s world had nothing to do with the things that happened back then. This new generation is educated and they should be open to friendships and open to change. This new generation is filled with leaders of tomorrow and progress is not possible if they do not let go of the hatred and open their eyes to see the world and its opportunities if the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh join hands.

I am a Bangladeshi and I’ve come across some very talented Pakistani youth who live here. They amaze me by their courage that allowed them to come and stay in a land which has a history with Pakistan. I’ve come across Bangladeshi people who tell me that their best friend is a Pakistani and I’ve come across Pakistani people who love their Bangladeshi counterparts. I, myself, have friends from Pakistan and they are an amazing bunch. Right now, I’m sitting at the corner of my university’s café, in Bangladesh might I add, and looking at the people in front of me enjoying the cricket match between Pakistan and South Africa on television. The people in front of me are from Pakistan AND Bangladesh AND India too. If we they can join hands and root for Pakistan, why can others not do the same? Isn’t it high time that we change our mindsets? Isn’t it high time we come forward and embrace each other in a hug and move forward together? We’re the new generation, we’re the future leaders and it’s time we start acting like one.

Stereotyping Women in Advertisements

What is it that we see when we look around the moment we step outside our apartments? Do we see the vast sky or do we see huge billboards looming overhead? Yes, in this era of digitalization, where everything has been turning into digital madness, we see huge billboards and megaboards depicting women as objects of desire and lust. In Europe, from advertising a bar of soap to a bottle of soda, from clothes to cars – everywhere we look, women are stereotyped in advertisements which is very undignified and degrading and because of this women and their abilities have been undermined for a very long time.

Women have been stereotyped from the beginning of advertising but it reached its peak in the last century, also known as the “Mad Men Era”. Examples of advertisements from this specific period of time show us proper examples of how women were looked down upon as housewives and frail and fragile who did not have any strength or even if they had did not have the courage to prove their worth. One image taken from the Mad Men era shows a ketchup bottle, the first of its kind, that does not need a bottle opener or a corkscrew or a ‘husband’ to open it. Which is why the line underneath the picture says that, “You mean a ‘woman’ can open it?” which shows how weak and delicate and feeble a woman was seen as. In several other advertisements, during this Mad Men era, women were depicted mostly as housewives, who were mopping the floor or doing the dishes or were serving tea to their husbands or doing their husband’s bidding.This depicts that women were not cut out for any outside athletic activities but rather to stay in the house cooking, cleaning and making life simpler for the benefit of men which is clearly misleading. On one such poster, that I myself came across from this particular era I was while in high school, was the advert for a tiger skin rug strewn on the floor that had a female’s head instead of a tiger’s while a faceless man put his feet on her head and the caption of the picture read ‘Show Her Where She Belongs”. This caused the world to believe that a woman’s place, or more correctly speaking a wife’s place, was at the feet of her husband, that she was inferior from him. The woman in the poster was staring up blankly at the man. Are we brought into this world for the sake of the men only? Because that is exactly what was being portrayed in the advertisements.

In Paris, when it comes to advertisements on billboards, mega boards, television and newspapers, women are objectified and looked upon as an object of want. Take for example the billboard advertisement for a new perfume that recently got launched, “Cinema” by Yves Saint Laurent. It depicts a woman in her late twenties, standing in the middle, surrounded by five good looking men who are staring at her with open lust and even then one of the men has his hand on her thigh. All this was done to attract the attention of potential consumers but the main focus which was supposed to be the perfume was at a small place at the bottom-right corner of the whole poster. This proves that women are literally being used and treated as an object to attract people in advertisements. Same goes for another advertisement which was released a few years earlier but nonetheless objectifies women in the extreme. “Tom Ford For Men” – this advertisement is degrading to such a level that it is shameful. Tom Ford is a brand for men’s cologne and this particular advertisement shows the image of a woman who is naked and her hands and the cologne are the only things that are covering up her breasts and genitals. The image succeeds in conveying the message that the only important parts of a woman are her breasts and her vagina and the way to get to these parts is through the cologne. This image portrays the woman as an object because the woman here is present for the pleasure of the “straight male audience” as this is a product for MEN.

The representation of women in advertisements is completely stereotyped.  It is because women are always shown as if they are subordinate, inferior, weak, dominated, dependent and more importantly as pleasing objects. An example would be the not-so-recent advertisement by Kenneth Cole which features Jon Kortajarena and Julia Stegner. In this particular image, Julia is neither nude nor is the image vulgar when we first look at it. But as we read deeper into the image being portrayed, we notice that Julia is positioned between Jon’s feet with one hand on his knee, her legs are bare and we can see through the top she is wearing. This image depicts that women are not only seen as objects but that they are also seen as weak and their place is at the feet of men. If that isn’t degrading enough and if that isn’t morally wrong than what is? Furthermore, Marijean Suelzle pointed out that commercials “endlessly show women helpless before a pile of soiled laundry until the male voice of authority overrides her to tell her how brand X with it’s fast-acting enzymes will get her clothes cleaner than clean (Courtney and Whipple, 1974, p.252). Advertising is a powerful tool for selling but it can also be an equally powerful tool for changing a person’s attitude or perspective or stance.

“To sell the products, women’s bodies are often dismembered into thighs, legs, breasts, stomach, midriffs, bare behinds, partly clothed parts, emphasizing on the message that women are in fact pleasuring objects rather than whole humans”. Above all that pictures of women, be it any part of her body especially her face, are altered in such a way that they are barely recognizable. We can take the Dove Evolution advertisement that was launched by Unilever as an example. At first the woman’s ‘statuesque’ makeup and her ‘intricate’ coiffure were done until she looked absolutely beautiful and since that wasn’t enough, they photo-shopped her picture, before they put it on a billboard, so that her face looked thinner, her lips looked fuller, her neck looked longer, her ‘beauty bone’ was perfectly visible and her eyes looked bigger. They altered the image in such a way that the girl we saw at the beginning of the video clip was barely recognizable. This not only lowers the self esteem of the woman in the image but also affects the different women who look at this image. Women worldwide often have an urge to compare themselves with all the different women in advertisements and it does not help that the women they perceive as idealistic does not even exist in the real world, that they have been edited and photo-shopped to look perfect in every sense. This distorts the idea of what an ideal woman looks like in real life and what beauty really is. According to Naomi Wolf’s concept, beauty is a myth as it changes from time to time, from generation to generation. I, at times, have compared and questioned myself why do I not look like the woman in this poster or in that billboard and upon not finding the answer, I get depressed and sulky. In the same way women ask questions and then undermine themselves as they do not have the answer.

Now, lets take a look at how men see women as aftereffects of these advertisements that are taking the rounds these past couple of years. Just like women compare themselves to the “ideal” women in the advertisements, men fantasize about these same women. Increasing number of men are pressured to accept the reality that the women in advertisements do not, in a sense, exist in real life. They are the works of art, of editing, of photoshopping. As men fantasize, they blur the line that exists between the world of advertising and reality, thus, mixing up their ideology of how women look and how they should look. They think that the women in the advertisements are exactly what they look in real life which is barely the case. This psychologically affects a man so much that they cringe in disgust when they face a not-so-good-looking average woman upfront.

Advertisements are a huge part of our lives; we see them when we are outside on the streets on billboards, we see them when we casually flip through a magazine, we see them when we sit to read today’s newspaper, we see them pop-up when we use the internet – in this era, advertisements are everywhere. There are so many ways a woman can be depicted in an advertisement, but since all these past years women were portrayed as frail and fragile and as the ultimate “damsel in distress” it will be harder for the future generations to alter the way society looks at women. They were portrayed as subordinates to men, inferior and most of the times victimized as sex objects. People need to learn to respect women and not flaunt them barely, because if this continues then will there be ‘WOMEN’?the world will enter a really dark age.

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