Still 'little' women?

What is German Chancellor Angela Merkel doing in a matching purple bra and knicker set on a billboard in Berlin? The 1,000 sq ft mocked-up image is apparently part of a nationwide campaign for an underwear company.

“Aiming to cash in on the success of a “cash-for-clunkers” scheme for old cars, punters trading in their old underwear will get a $7 discount on a new pair, the advert promises, under the slogan: “The country needs new undies.”

Why has Ms. Merkel’s image been used? Is the ad trying to say she is old and there is a need for change? Or is she the change? Are they trying to show ‘normal’ women with ‘normal’ figures, though who has given anyone the right to decide on what is normal? Is it a uniformly applicable idea?

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I do not understand why women consider themselves the second sex. Why did Carol Ann Duffy, who was named Britain’s Poet Laureate, have to think “long and hard” before accepting the position?

Is it because she is “the first woman and lesbian to hold the royal post in its 341-year history”? Did she not already know her position regarding the monarchy and the role of artistes and poets? Why are these honours always so gender-centric when it comes to taking an ideological position? Look at her almost apologetic tone: “I look on it as a recognition of the great women poets we have writing now. I’ve decided to accept it for that reason.”

There is a history of poet laureates and patrons in almost all artistic endeavours. In the early days it was in most parts of the world assigned by rulers; in the Mughal courts women dancers were patronised. This might be seen as objectification but they were trained in the classical form and helped to retain a part of that culture. Poets and musicians were accorded honour in the palaces of kings under other regimes too. Their gender was not of any importance. The saint-poet Meera quite openly rebelled against her marriage in the princely Rajput house and conveyed her devotion to Lord Krishna in public places where she toured with male mendicants.

Therefore, the confusion of the woman today ought to surprise us because we have the means to decide and have opinions. We need not be taken by surprise by such invitations if we have strongly stood by our views.

I do get revolted by the emphasis on the sexual orientation of the woman. Is it important? Why is being the first lesbian of any consequence? Why does it need the stamp of approval by a monarchy that is anyway primarily titular?

This amounts to the woman and a gay looking on it as a special favour being accorded. Is this a “recognition of the great women poets”?

How many poets, men or women, would want to be known for penning paeans to the royal family? Would Ms. Duffy write about that porn scandal at Buckingham Palace? Or Prince Harry’s rave parties?

I find this elevation an example of tokenism. This reflects the way society thinks even today. Newspaper reports continue to refer to deaths during disasters of any kind as “X number of people dead, this includes Y number of women.”

Please. We are talking about half the population. Their inclusiveness should be understood, not stated.


  1. Why this german lady is not saying anything?If our politician was treated like that it would be a court case

  2. KB:

    I do wonder why Ms. Merkel is silent. But, let us not fool ourselves into believing that our women politicians would take the case to court were something similar to happen. If at all, it would be fringe politicians not mainstream ones. In Pakistan, did Sherry Rehman do anything about that Gilani video clip?

  3. Do you understand German? At least you should have tried to find out. It says, we'll do anything to increase our sales.

  4. Fortunately, I will never have occasion to use the sort of statement they did, and my German is restricted to a few phrases that I have used as a traveller.

    No, I need not have tried to find out what the ad line said because doing "anything to increase our sales" makes the queries I posed even more relevant.

    I wish people who comment would at least make an attempt to understand those rather than attempting feeble one-liners.

    In your enthusiasm to flash your German (Babelfish?)I suppose you just did not think of the part about Ms. Duffy, even though both are linked in a way.

    But then you did not look beyond the image and a few sentences that followed.


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