We’re A Feminist Platform And We Think The Myntra Logo Controversy Is Utter BS. What A Waste Of Activism!
So I read this morning that last week in India, someone took offence at something and some others had their ‘religious sentiments hurt’. Ah, must be Monday. I thought since the Courts are admitting bizarre petitions, I want to file one to declare ‘taking offence’ as our national sport, since we clearly lack the sportsman spirit for anything else. And each time I think we’ve stooped low enough with our declining levels of tolerance, we fall to newer lows. The latest conquest of India’s ‘Take Offence Club’ is the logo of Flipkart group’s fashion e-retailer, Myntra. I can’t believe I am writing this, but some woman activist thought the Myntra logo is offensive to women because, get this, it looks like a woman with her legs spread out, revealing her… umm… Garden of Eden.
I kid you not, this is real.
The complaint was lodged last month by one Naaz Patel of Avesta Foundation with the cyber cell in Mumbai. And you’d think that’s okay, people file ridiculous complaints all the time. But the shocker was when Myntra not only got summoned for a meeting by the Cyber Crime department but also agreed to revise the logo! They even sent an email out, and have debuted a new logo, which is much like the original but with slightly different gradient.
Maybe you and I don’t see the fuss, but if Avesta Foundation’s tweet is any indication, they seem pretty proud of their founder for swinging this.
Congratulations to our founder. She did it what apparently seemed impossible. Thank you everyone for your support. We're overwhelmed by the response. Kudos to @myntra for addressing the concerns and respecting the sentiments of millions of women. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Iwb4e3LoLq
— Avesta Foundation (@Avestaonline) January 30, 2021
Yes, well done, you. This is the rough equivalent of moms and aunties telling girls to sit with their legs closed because otherwise it is offensive. Millions of women? Erm, can we see the proof of this unanimous support?
Turns out, before Naaz Patel, there were some Twitter and Reddit threads that went down a similar line of thought. But this time, it didn’t just remain one of those stretched observational jokes but actually made a major brand go ahead and change its logo because someone had a serious case of pareidolia! What’s that, you ask? Pareidolia is the tendency of the human brain that allows us to see shapes in clouds or human faces in completely random things, like the windows and doors of a house. In this case, the complainant saw in the random shading of the Myntra logo a silhouette of a woman’s spread legs, and deemed it offensive to the ladies.
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Now I am a woman, and I write for a feminist publication. And I speak for Hauterfly and all its women when I say that we think this Myntra logo controversy is utter BS. For several reasons.
First, it is way too whimsical. I remember when I was a kid, and would visit my aunt’s place in my village, the tiles in their bathroom had these bizarre patterns. Having starred at them for far too long, I was convinced that this one particular tile had a pattern that spelt out my name. That little girl thought it was some secret message that only she was meant to find! I would show it to whoever I could find, from my parents to my cousins, and everyone thought I had lost it. But once you’d seen it, there was no way you could unseen it. It wasn’t the manufacturer’s branding, nor was it a ‘coded message’. It was just a random design that my brain had interpreted in a way that it liked! Even now, the tile exists and even now, if I visit that house, I look for it and laugh at myself. What I don’t do is launch an investigation into why the random tile chose to spell my name. Sure, I have a salary and savings, but I also have a brain.
Everyone has their own imagination, and for some, it is more colourful than other’s. Does that mean we impose our perception on other people? Uh NO. Not unless you got Change.org petition signed by like a million Myntra app users telling you their whimsy concurs with yours!
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Second, okay, so you thought it looks like a woman’s p***y. Great, but why would that be offensive? Why is a woman’s vagina offensive? It’s probably the most powerful thing in the world—taking on penetrative sex, menstruation, and childbirth! I hate, in fact, when people use the word ‘balls’ to denote strength and courage because isn’t the vagina stronger? If a brand chose to flaunt it in its logo, I’d applaud them. Do you even know how powerful this image from Wolf Of Wall Street is?
Third, there are SOOOOOO many things that resemble a woman’s vagina. A strawberry or papaya that’s cut open. Your phone’s emoji board will tell you, the peach when its whole could be a woman’s derriere and when cut open, could be a vagina. Hell, if you’re taking inspiration from Hollywood, both the peach (Call Me By Your Name) and a warm apple pie (American Pie) could be substitutes for a vagina! Even the lotus flower in its full, timely bloom or an opened pomegranate are symbolisms for the female genitalia. So shall we go around changing the diagrams of all these things?
And while we’re at it, we’re also all for gender equality. So tell us what do we do about the banana and the eggplant? Sigh.
Fourth, see here’s the biggest problem with ‘changing’ things okay. The ‘damage’ is already done. The name and image is already seared in people’s brains. And what you’re doing is only making it worse, now having brought this to the notice of the people who hadn’t even seen it in the first place. You see, before, this was just a figment of a few people’s imaginations. But now, everyone is going to see it. And once you see it, you cannot unseen it. EVEN IF THE LOGO IS CHANGED!
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Look at all the places that have had their names changed. Mumbai is still Bombay to so many. Kolkata is Calcutta. Prayagraj is still Allahabad. In fact, for me, Padmavat is still Padmavati. And even after the makers of Tandav have chopped all the ‘offensive’ bits and renamed the show as per the whims and fancies of the mob, it will still remain Tandav, not just for me, but for almost everyone. So celebrating this ‘change’ as a win is as fruitless a celebration as this is a waste of activism.
Which brings me to…. Fifth, clearly women’s rights NGOs and organisations have enough problems on their to-do list for 2021. I don’t understand how getting Myntra’s logo changed got so much priority. Was this a case of getting free publicity? Or earning small wins? How has changing this logo made a difference to the condition of women? I, a woman, have enough instances of being intentionally objectified for centuries that haven’t been dealt with—from Playboy magazines to graffiti on public toilet walls to ‘bois locker room’ group chats. Do I honestly even have the time and bandwidth to ‘get offended’ over something that is so, for the lack of a better word, stupid and trivial?
What a colossal waste of time, effort and activism. Not to mention the larger impact it is going to have when hordes of things need rebranding.
As a woman, I know what it feels like to be restricted, curbed, and forced to bow down to the whims and fancies of the society I live in. So while my first impulse would be to get angry at Myntra for cow-trowing to this ridiculous complaint that has no merit and agreeing to change its logo, I also know the pressure on brands to pacify public sentiment because, well, the client is king. And seeing how things have gone with brands like Tanishq, you never know where the chips might fall.
My appeal, then, is to these rights groups and organisations and ‘dals’ that seem to consider themselves the representatives for entire sections of the population. Please stop taking offence by proxy. Do anything, anything at all. Just stop taking offence because it ruins the actual genuine cause.