Can Someone Please Explain The Need To Have Models Posing With Cars At Auto Expos? We Are Not Props!
This is the season of auto shows, which means all around the globe there will be several conventions with luxurious and high performance cars. The venues are filled with testosterone as men flock to the event, hoping to catch a glimpse of these aspirational vehicles and sexy models posing as mere accessories. What role do the women have to play in this setup is a concept I fail to understand. The Auto Expo 2020 happening in Delhi as I write this article, is a perfect example of the same.
After a quick Google search, I realised that several people around the globe are baffled about the same. In a Quora thread, a well-meaning guy tried to explain, “It is considered good for business. Cars, especially performance cars, are traditionally a male pursuit. Hence, it makes sense to have things (sexy girls etc) around to help make men want to attend the car show, spend money etc.” Even though he went on to say that such practises are changing, I don’t think he even realised that he called women “things” to attract men. You know how we decorate our walls with pretty posters and fairy lights to make them look more alluring. In the male-dominated world of auto conventions, women are just mere props.
This kind of sexism and objectification of women isn’t restricted to auto expos. We have scantily-clad cheerleaders, placed strategically on cricket fields. There are track girls at Formula 1 car races, ring card girls at boxing matches, and sexy models at gaming, sports and other male-dominated conventions. All of them have one thing in common, that is, being dressed in minimum clothes and their actual contribution to the sport is, well, nothing.
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Using women as props to lure foolish male consumers dates back to the time when advertising was in its budding phase. In times when advertising was limited to print, they would slyly add an attractive woman to a car ad, following the “sex sells” ideology. That would not only attract attention but also subtly convince horny men that buying that product can give them the kind of lifestyle that the picture promises. Only after making the purchase and driving the car around for a while, they realise that a car promoted by a sexy woman simply does not have her as a standard feature in the car – like an AC or something. You actually have to work for it, outside of the car. The buyer’s remorse must be crazy bad for these guys. Probably right up there with the guys who douse themselves in deodorant and find that women, actually do not get attracted to you like bees to pollen. Apparently, you’ve to be a nice guy and all.
During those times, these car girls were conservatively dressed because advertising didn’t allow for a lot of skin show. Today, while they pretend to have become modern in terms of clothing, the fact that they are still using women as objects shows that the industry is still living in the 60s.
The businessmen argue that faces and eyes draw more attention than objects in pictures. But can you not reduce women to sex objects for that? How about having car enthusiasts, sports professionals, etc. talking about the cars? How about showing a couple enjoying a car ride in the pictures, without making it look like the man is a player and the woman is his latest catch? Why present women as gold diggers who’d just jump into the sack with a man because he is rich and drives a fancy car? This is wrong on so many levels, I can’t even…
While the businesses investing in such practices are to be blamed, the blame is not solely theirs. With demand comes supply and shows the disgusting mindset of our society according to which, women have always been looked at as sex objects. The intellect of a woman is overlooked and it’s her physical appearance that takes precedence over anything else. Men have been hogging the important roles and expecting women to take up the roles established to make their lives easier.
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Women are more than that. We have female athletes making big wins globally for India. We have businesswomen who are taking the lead. There is female representation everywhere. But such auto conventions take us back to the times when women sat in their homes, in pretty pastel dresses and uncomfortable corsets waiting for their sexist husband to come home from work. We are in 2020 and the world stills seems to be stuck in Mad Men era. Thanks, but women buy cars too and being subjected to sexism while shelling out money to buy your product will not please any of us. In fact, it shouldn’t please the men of our society either. Shame, it does!