Thanks for nothing Mathira and Josh Condoms

It is estimated that by the year 2050, our population will be 300 million strong. Every day, a whopping 14,000 babies are born. That is 14,000 more mouths to feed, 14,000 more children to educate and 14,000 children that need to be provided for. An average woman in Pakistan has 5 to 6 babies during her lifetime.

It is without a doubt that we need more awareness and easier access to contraceptives.

So for me, when an advertisement that delivers a message relating to birth control airs on TV, it is an occasion of celebration; a development that should be praiseworthy. That was, of course, till I saw Josh Condoms and Mathira’s take on what an ad selling condoms should look like.

Mathira’s latest show stopping performance in a ‘Josh Condom’ ad has made people blush in embarrassment and gawk at the sheer obnoxiousness of the gross, innuendo-laden and completely inappropriate approach to a very important subject.

Playing the part of a trophy wife, Mathira makes the entire neighbourhood jealous as they wonder how a man, evidently her inferior in looks, appeal and charm could secure the love of this supermodel.

The advert continues with coy looks, loaded with explicit meaning and right at the end of the 50-second clip, the lucky husband reveals his secret: Josh Condoms – that is how he managed to secure and ‘tame’ this wife that everybody is so envious of.

I don’t know about you, but the insinuation is crystal clear to me; if you are good in bed using Josh Condoms, any woman can be yours. By using this condom, your wife, will lovingly see you off to work; she will make you ‘thanda’, and will be the perfect companion for you.

The message is that if you use this condom, you can secure a perfect woman — or any woman.

I have seen many TV shows and adverts that reduce women through various means, be it money, good looks, status and so on. However, this advertisement has to be the most lewd description of how one can secure a woman’s affection through sex.

Maybe Mathira thought she was doing a great service to women by perhaps preventing them from enduring the pain and suffering of multiple births, but I wonder if she realises that by agreeing to be part of this ad, she has thrown women a hundred steps back. She has made us look like mere objects that can be controlled by sex. She has, in just 50 seconds, reduced a lifetime of work done by remarkable women like Fouzia Syed and Sharmeen Obaid to empower women, to make them more than just their sex.

Can a woman have more facets to her personality or must she always be attracted to just onething? A woman is smart enough to consider other things before she ties the knot.

The last straw in this advertisement is that five seconds at the end which proclaims that the condom is now available in strawberry flavour too.

This disgustingly tasteless addition to the ad has no place in a conservative society like our own. The topic of family planning and sex education is taboo in Pakistan and this was a very important subject matter that needed to be handled with delicacy.

This ad just made it dirty.

Josh Condoms, please take a bow – through your low-brow, disrespectful approach to marketing birth control, you have likely permanently damaged what little chance other people had to educate people about family planning through the media.

While I am all for awareness about why contraception is important, this advertisement is by no means the way to do it. This is why when Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) announced that is has banned the ad, I reluctantly nodded my head in approval – not something you see me do often with regards to PEMRA’s policies.

I agree with the statement that the advertisement was generally “perceived as indecent, immoral and in sheer disregard to our socio-cultural and religious values.”

An advertisement about sex need not sell a woman as an object.

It can be tasteful, educational and can deliver the message in a way that works in a conservative, fiercely patriarchal society where education and awareness about sex is abysmal.

Mathira, maybe it is time to think about Pakistan and not just yourself. Your decision to take part in this farce has done us a grave disservice.

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