Conditioning is for Hair, not Minds

A new series in collaboration with The Spoilt Modern Indian Woman


Well, hello! Wow, what a week it has been! Students are protesting, nationalists are outraging, the Police is pulling a Modi and lawyers are doing a Salman Khan. While Salman Khan himself is still not in jail, but those who shouldn’t be, are. With all that going on, plus classes, assignments, a North Indian wedding and a rushed trip to Delhi (full of clandestine meetings and secret plans to take over the world) thrown in, it has taken me forever to come up with this post! But I promise you, I’ll make it worth the wait. So with that in mind, here’s the next edition of ‘Conditioning is for Hair, not Minds’ in collaboration with The Spoilt Modern Indian Woman

The ad I am taking up under the 8th instalment of the series is Amazon’s new groundbreaking (not) social experiment, titled “When a Woman Shops”. Check it out here.

The ad begins with a group of men, in a generic, posh, urban living room type area (?), talking about their wives’ shopping habits. One says, “If you wanna make her happy, you just say ‘let’s go shopping’, and her face glows!” Husband of the year award goes to you, sir! *slow clap* “Who shops for ten kurtas at a time? I don’t shop for that many shirts in a year!” exclaims another. Yup, that’s right; you don’t- because you haven’t been subjected to years of patriarchal, sexist conditioning that tells you your worth lies in the way you look.

They go on and on about how their wives are shopaholics, only shopping for clothes, make up and shoes (“we live in a bedroom is full of her slippers”!), – but of course if a dudebro were to convert an entire room in his house to a video game den, or comic book library or a work-out zone, he would automatically become a hero in the male-realm. Incidentally, that is something that actually happens, while the room full of shoes is obviously an exaggeration. But it does say something about how you would react if a woman REALLY created a space in her house dedicated to something she enjoys collecting / using. Even though men doing it is not only acceptable, but revered.

Anyway, to make life easier for these miserable, sad men (catch the irony), Amazon gives their wives vouchers worth 5000 rupees to find out what women really shop for- are they actually selfish, self indulgent women who like buying stuff for themselves? Or are they the perfect Bharatiya Naaris who will put everybody else’s needs and wants before their own?
The couples then sit together, and the husbands go through all the shopping their wives have done – one man pulls a lipstick out of the box, the wife hurriedly snatches it from him saying “That’s just lipstick, but it’s okay, that’s just a small thing!” He then finds a new shirt that she bought for him. Phew, that was close – Goddess forbid a woman shop only for herself! Even if it’s just a “small thing” like lipstick!

One woman adds that you have to think about your husband and your kids while shopping (here’s the thing though – you don’t!). The next one says that since her husband is oh-so-busy with work, and she has so much time on her hands, she does his shopping for him (I’m just happy she doesn’t change his diapers for him too. Or maybe she does but they didn’t include that in the ad). The men then sheepishly admit that they were wrong. Women shop for their husbands too. Their wives are good women after all – they never put themselves first!

“Men think women love to shop….truth is, they shop to show love”, the commercial proudly proclaims, as I throw up a little in my mouth.
What’s even more incredible though is how Amazon’s definition of “women” didn’t include any single women. I guess we hardly even qualify as people if we don’t have husbands, huh?

Listen up, Amazon – women aren’t just wives – we are individuals with wants and desires, and we can shop for whatever the hell we want. We can be selfish and indulge ourselves. We can go shopping and come back home with bags full of clothes, shoes and make up. Hell, we can dedicate an entire room to our shoes and another one entirely to our bags and you don’t get to shame us for it! Maybe it makes me a bad woman in your archaic, sexist and regressive world, but what the hell; at least I have some great shoes!