Offensive Audi ad reminder of women’s unequal status

By Sun Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/20 21:14:35

Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT

When I was a kid, my grandpa often took me to a countryside fair that gathered twice a week. What excited me most was to watch the variety of livestock on sale. Usually buyers would examine the face, fur and limbs of a cow or donkey, and never forget to check their teeth. This was to know how old the animal was and whether it was healthy, I was told.

What brings back this old memory is a recent video advertisement of automaker Audi for its online shop for secondhand cars. In the 34-second long commercial, a happy couple was taking an oath at their wedding when the bridegroom's mother suddenly cut in. The middle-aged lady examined the nose, ears and teeth of her daughter-in-law, and finally walked away satisfied, making an OK gesture after she made sure that every part of her daughter-in-law was authentic. Her move stunned everyone present. Then came the theme of the ad: "An important decision must be made carefully. Assured by official certification."

The video, which was reportedly played in China's cinemas, went viral on social media and was immediately greeted by overwhelming ridicule and anger for its explicit contempt toward women. Weren't the slaves on sale checked in this way centuries ago? So what if the bride had plastic surgery? Is there anything wrong with her pursuit of beauty?

As a woman, I wonder how bad the taste of the famous automaker can be to approve such an offensive ad idea, and how ignorant, or arrogant precisely, this company is to fail to foresee this fierce backlash. Maybe for Audi, the ad is simply funny enough to attract viewers since a lack of respect for women is still ubiquitous in this country.

The commercial is annoyingly absurd, but unfortunately it is revealing that after centuries of fighting for gender equality, women still can't even get their basic human rights recognized.

Recently in China, the TV series The first half of my life became an instant hit. It told how a housewife in Shanghai strived to stand on her own feet after she was cheated on by her husband and got divorced. In this process, she was helped by many men and was eventually admired by a man far more excellent than her ex-husband. There arises a question: why does a woman need to become independent? Is it for herself or just to meet better guys? Sadly, not long ago, another hot TV series prompted the public to discuss whether it is necessary for a woman to keep her virginity until getting married. That's what we still dwell on in the 21st century, let alone gender equality.

Chairman Mao Zedong commended women as "holding up half the sky." But while today's women can make as much of a contribution, if not more, to society than men, they enjoy far fewer rights.

In her 2014 speech, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson said women should be able to make decisions about their own body and be afforded the same respect as men, but she also admitted sadly there is "no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights," which are basic human rights. The reality reminds us once again that there is a long way to go for women.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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