There are these two advertisements on TV these days. Both focus on married couples and both talk about the same product- a brand of morning after pills.
The first ad I saw shows this family sitting for breakfast with the mother\ wife serving. Only her husband notices her discomfiture.
The second ad, which was only aired recently, shows this good-looking guy sitting, waiting for something. The something happens- his bride wakes up, and then notices his nervous unease.
And what are these two characters uncomfortable about? Well, an unplanned pregnancy, what else?
Now, why am I writing about these ads? The answer is, because I think this ad talks very loudly about a lot of issues.
Firstly, The morning after pill, which sparked a raging, fundamentalist debate in the west, is being accepted and freely advertised in a so- labeled ‘backward’ country called India.
Secondly, I think it’s interesting that in one clip it’s the wife who’s concerned about an unplanned pregnancy, and in the other, it’s the husband. Earlier, in general, neither would have bothered. It would just have been like- Oh, well; this is God’s will. It would in most cases even have been celebrated.
Thirdly, It’s portrayed as a mutual decision. This is important because till even a decade ago, even in the educated, upper income groups of urban India, it would be a decision of the man and his family. It’s a paradigm shift and asserts the right of control a woman deserves over her own body- even as it emphasizes the right of both partners over the fate of an unborn child.
Fourthly, in a strange way, it’s propagating family planning. In the first ad the couple already has two kids, and in the second, the newlyweds have non. The common thread is that neither couple wants a child at that point- it’s about how a couple has to be mentally prepared for having children.
Lastly, the timing of this ad is almost other- worldly, given that it’s being telecast at a time when our politicians are debating the existence of the Lord Ram, urban India is being recognized as the lady- killer in quite the wrong way, and village panchayats are terrorizing couples through gotra- politics… Really, this can truly happen only in India.
I guess these ads tell us that marriage is not just a license to get birth certificates printed anymore. It’s actually a celebration of living everyday with the person you love, and who may one day, by mutual consent, plan to be the parent of your child.