Ads infringing on our values
We would like to voice a joint protest to a new trend in advertising, billboards, magazine and newspaper features that is becoming increasingly prevalent and common these days. That is the new trend of showing female models- or even male models - in increasingly revealing and provocative clothing and images. We would like to ask the promoters of this new culture what exactly it is that they are trying to advocate in way of values, mores and philosophy to our new and young generations.
Surely, the goals of progress, education, secularism and modernity cannot be at odds with the simple concept that a woman's value is more than the amount of skin she shows or how attractive she can look to the opposite gender! And that to every passer-by, be it the poor rickshaw-puller, the tired, angry, frustrated truck driver or day labourer. And we wonder why rape is increasing.
And when these same advocates of Bengali art and culture put women with saris on huge billboards with a piece of cloth barely resembling a blouse, or even a midi skirt or capri pants showing lower leg and ankle , or sleeveless shirts and kameezes, are they actually promoting Bengali culture or a shallow borrowed Bollywood or even global culture? Is it part of our Bengali culture and philosophy for women and girls to be shameless and brazen? Are they sure they are not grossly confused in their attempts to advocate freedom of expression and women's lib by undressing their women that they are not actually devaluing women? Are they sure they are not pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and norms till the boundaries are pushed beyond limits by our younger generations that even they would not be able to finally tolerate?
Should we not perhaps realize that there are actually better lessons to be learnt from the west or even across the border that would actually benefit our rather misguided nation, instead of taking from the worst of their examples. The only thing to learn from the example of loosening dress codes of nations and cultures overseas is that along with it came, hand in hand, the loosening of many other moral and social norms. At present the western civilization and all those influenced by it have so many social ills that it is hard to keep count. In other words we can only learn from their mistakes and take heed since our youth are already in the fast moving downward spiral of the culture of drugs, sex, early divorces etc. etc. All we seem to be emphasizing to them is that they have to look a certain way and hence behave in a certain way to feel good about themselves while the importance of the inner human being is given backseat. It's all about looks, money, “success”, entertainment, fun, fun and more fun at the cost of all that is actually important to improve one's quality of life or attain happiness and peace.
If it is not the fear of Allah that guides our choices and what we stand for - and it is obviously often not - then surely the quick decline of values and mores of our younger generations should at least restrain us from loosening our own standards of cultural norms and traditions. In a nation of majority of Muslims, we as Bengali Muslims are too quick to brush aside our Islamic values. But surely, even the conservative Hindus or Christians of our region were equally conservative. In our efforts to fight the religious extremists are we sure we are not in danger of becoming “secular extremists” where we have become so easily blind to the obvious negative effects our “extreme” secular ideas are having on our youth? Whatever someone's personal way of life may be, when it is being “sold” or “promoted” via advertising in the print or electronic media, it cannot, anymore, be anyone's personal business.
In the light of what we have been saying above, please, let us take a moment and do some serious introspection to think what our misplaced modernity, misguided attempts at freedom and liberation and personal rights are doing as we blindly hurtle down the slope of fast declining social, moral and family values.