March. A month filled with events, such as the change from winter to spring or the international Women’s Day (IWD). In both case, this is a cyclic event: a change that occurs repeatedly, around the same period but to only remain temporary. Spring represents the renewal and the coming of nicer weather. The IWD is now the day on which women are celebrated and their position in our society in terms of rights and struggles endured is highlighted. But every year, the story restarts, flowers bud and some of them are offered to women on IWD. Like these natural and calendar cycles, communication strategies and society’s reactions towards “women cause fight” are also being repeated over and over again, even if it is presented as something new. Just on the web, I think there are enough materials to become lost or schizophrenic regarding the consideration of women in our society, and this, beyond the regions. So dear reader, like Morpheus asked Neo, here is my question to you: do you want to face the truth of reality (red pill) or remain in the comfortable illusion (blue pill) of our schizophrenic world? You may ask back: Why not taking both pills and get a purple effect?
This purple effect can be observed where both blue and red pills are available; i.e. in countries having quite developed economy, and not suffering from war or other terrible problems. But what are the characteristics of the purple effects? Well, there are many stages. At first, you may remain in a kind of illusion of a comfortable world, which has made amazing technological progress such as sending a probe (Philae) into space to study comets, to then, make you cry in front of news showing war refugees’ living conditions or some people having no access to potable water, to again, put you back to a state of amazement in front of emerging smart cities, where distribution of electricity is monitored based on needs. Well, the image and the perception of women are also a result of this purple effect.
Not just a symptomatic effect, but an ∞ effect
Beyond the purple effect, it seems that there is no learning curve, but an infinite and cyclic curve repeating the same things. Over the past 50 years, when you look at the use of women’s image in communication campaigns, well… there is no real change. In marketing, the objective has remained unchanged: remember and talk about a product/service. Trigger a word-of-mouth – or word-of-Twitter today – works well, when reactions are created, such as surprising or shocking people. So far, what seems to work the best is showing provocative and racy images of women. We all know the ropes and tricks, but we still go on supporting such approach by going on using these same ropes and tricks, and thus, keeping on contributing to a certain perception of women in our society. This is how we create “from-sweetie-to-slutty” phenomena like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and yet to become Martina Stoessel (?) Though, this is a sustainable marketing strategy, no? In parallel, speeches made about women rights and gender inequality, are the same; which means that nothing has changed but everything is repeated… again.
A bitter world rather than a better world…
Last summer, Bülent Arınç, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, said women should not laugh loudly in public; creating waves of reactions in media all over the world. Shocking? Yes. But what about a non-working woman sipping her coffee in Nişantaşı*, dressed up with luxury brands paid with her husband or her parent’s money, discussing with her entourage about women rights and cause in the world, pretending to know about the subject? Not only men may influence today’s women’s perception, but women do it even better! Women are part of the process of change or maintenance of the stereotypes that exist today. At the 25th Crystal Apple Festival, Mercedes Erra, founder of BETC, said that “If women’s stereotypes remain as they are in women’s mind, so how can our own world change to reach actual gender equality?” Pointing out men as sole and main responsible is the easiest way to discharge our own responsibility as women.
*Nişantaşı is a rich area in Istanbul