Misrepresentation of women


  • Business
  • Saturday, 18 Jan 2003

By IRENE HO

IT is the 21st century and we still need to re-brand and re-market womanhood? 

Not long ago, our Minister of International Trade & Industry, Datuk Rafidah Aziz shared this story with a friend. 

You know, there’s one question that the press likes to ask women in powerful positions – “How can you juggle the responsibilities of your demanding job and your family duties?”  

Invariably, the same question was posed to her during a press interview held in Singapore. She answered calmly, “Why don’t you ask Lee Kuan Yew how he juggles the demands of his office duties with his duty of being a father and a husband?”  

She continued, “Sorry, your question does not deserve an answer.” And that was the end of the interview. 

Yes, it may be the 21st century but alas, whether it’s due to tradition or misinterpretation of religious teachings, the misrepresentation of womanhood still exists. 

Here’s a collection of gems provided by various people, including men, on how womanhood could be better understood. 

 

Bearers of life’s greatest pain 

Women can endure much more pain than men, so God gave them the most painful job – child delivery. And their mental resilience often more than makes up for their sometimes lesser physical strength. 

 

Guardians of beauty  

Legend has it that when President Kennedy was a senator, before he married Jackie, he rented a bachelor pad in Washington. After his death, his landlord disclosed that his trash was knee-high.  

Here was this man who was so elegantly tidy on the outside, yet his apartment was downright filthy. Thank goodness for Jackie. Some things just need a woman’s touch. 

 

Risers to the occasion 

In 1995, Koch, the industrial billionaire and America’s Cup winner, put together the first women’s team to ever compete in the America’s Cup. Everyone thought he was crazy and Dennis Conners, an America’s Cup veteran, promptly challenged him. Later at a press conference, Conners lamented that he would go down in history as having suffered two of the greatest defeats. The first, to the Australians in ’84, and the second, to the first ever women’s team.  

 

Relentless competitors  

Sport is often used to train men to lead and exert leadership with one another. And their female counterparts are almost always considered just not tough enough to be competitive. But that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the thrill of competition. Try challenging the women in your office and watch for the same determined spirit of competition. Or you could challenge the Williams’ sisters to a game of tennis. 

 

Instinctive survivors 

Ever heard of ‘a woman’s instinct’? Women are born with intuitive abilities to help ensure the survival of their offspring. And these abilities often come in handy at the workplace too. A male management executive was once overheard telling his male clients (serious bankers notwithstanding) that when you are in doubt about your intuitive feelings concerning any incident, just ask your wife. 

 

God’s police 

There’s a famous saying in Australia that women are God’s police.  

The men are known for drinking like there’s no tomorrow and getting rowdy just for the fun of it. So they credit their women with keeping them in line.  

There were more of such amusingly insightful ideas on how womanhood could be re-branded and re-marketed than this space permits.  

While this article is certainly not intended to be a mouthpiece of feminist viewpoints, it does have an interesting take on a much misrepresented target market. And in the business of marketing and communications, it’s vital that we truly understand them as consumers. 

Lastly, we leave you with the headline from a billboard in Sydney for a recruitment agency. It reads – “Before, I just wanted to marry a millionaire. Now, I want to become one.” 

 

 

l Ho is Naga DDB client service director. Naga DDB is an integrated marketing communications group 

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