Thursday, 12 September 2013

Fun At The Cost Of Stereotyping: Here’s Why Apps Like ‘Stripper Pole’ And ‘Boyfriend Trainer’ Are Unacceptable

Fun? Sure, I understand fun. But there are more instances than one where fun doesn’t end as funny anymore. The story stretches to an altogether different level. Fun is subjective, of course. I have no problem with anyone who wants to have a jolly good time with friends or with a smart phone. Heck, have fun in your closet deprived of oxygen, I say. Nobody cares about anyone else’s form of fun but theirs, as long as they are happy with it.

But when you learn stupid things through the real world or the virtual world and do your super best to troll the little morals that are left in this world, I have to intervene. You spread misogyny or misandry like a bad breath and I have a problem with that. You demonize the other sex or make them a plaything, and I’ll tell you how intolerably wrong it is. I’ll never urge that men are superior or that women are. Forget about the qualities and strengths but on a totally humane ground, does it not sound right to treat the other as an equal? Or is it too much to ask for in the era where humanity is being stifled by our own practices?

As much as I try that my words make a difference in the way the world has been plastering typical, irrational adjectives to genders, there are people who love to shuffle the same typical, irrational adjectives your way and every way with utterly miserable ideas.

Play a game on our awesome app that’s designed especially for you, for example, “Shake That Booty”. You can manipulate the size of a woman’s butt (BOOTY, ha!) by shaking your phone. And, hey, don’t you feel guilty about it, big man. She wants it. With the makeover tactics, you get to enlarge body parts in someone’s picture through your iPhone’s accelerometer and share that feat on Facebook And another one, “A Stripper Pole” says, “… clap, yell, make some noise and they will spin around at your command.” Don’t waste your words on them, you control them with gestures!
Okay, so, you don’t have a woman in your life? Too bad. We’ll get you a virtual woman. And now that we are getting you one, don’t forget to order her to clean, serve, and behave. After all, you own her. You don’t need to thank us. Just buy this damn thing.

These apps do exist; some have been taken down after controversies, some still remain on their play stores. These are the burgeoning ideas that are finding a place in the market, with remarkable ease.

There is one named “Door of Hope” that enables a ‘gay cure’ in 60 days. Then, there is Boyfriend Trainer. Yes. You train your virtual boyfriend to become an ideal prototype for your man. You can scold him, whip him, electrocute him, or keep him on a leash if he is untidy or looks at other girls. I wonder if today’s relationships are at such loose ends that they need a digital app to tell you how to treat and how to be treated.

“GoodBoy” aims at improving your real boyfriend by awarding him points on his housekeeping and personal hygiene skills. Be a good boy and you get to “watch the game all afternoon – with no arguments.” Because, of course, a boy is a useless excuse for a human till he is blackmailed into doing his own work.

The brouhaha comes from so many different sources on the internet. But the primary source is the stereotypical phrases of gender roles our society has been thriving on. The idea behind some of these is not offensive, per se, but one can sure judge the negative implications these can have.

Every person likes power (some assurance, basically) over someone else. And it’s fine as long as it’s in a friendly sort of way. What we see today is aggressive, compulsive need to control – somebody, anybody. That is where bullying comes into picture, and rape, hatred, violence, perversion, libelling, and stalking comes into picture. People say that children behave like the company they keep. Sure, they do. But, I believe, parenting is the most important aspect of an overall growth of a child. It is the duty of parents to make their child see the right in a right and a wrong in a wrong. That should be a start.

These apps are downloaded by choice, after all. But any individual can see that most of these apps don’t serve any purpose other than fun. Simple, enjoyable fun is cool and welcome. But if fun is a cockeyed master of derision, it needs to be slayed to obscurity.

I’m sure I am guilty of stereotyping, just like everyone else, knowingly or unknowingly. It creeps in through the weak walls of practices that have been supported by archaic roots. One doesn’t even come to know when the quiet sexism makes its layers impenetrable within a being – brick by brick – and then turns into brazen sexism. Why, I ask, does history sound so intriguing? It belongs to an era that no longer exists, which in turn gives it fictional or rather mythical undercurrents. It has sexism canvassed at every single step, in every chapter. So ingrained it is in our books that we find it okay to attach attributes to genders. I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s not okay. Now that we are a society that’s lot different from what we were 50 years back, let’s forget how our ancestors lived 1500 years ago in their single-digit centuries. Let’s move on, like literally, please.

Also published in Youth Ki Awaaz


  1. Wonderfully written Vaishali :) I liked the very subtle essence of the topic and the light manner in which you presented your topic. A pragmatic approach and a contemplative ending! What more do I want from a post? ;)
    It's actually disheartening to see such traumatic ideas even coming to life. But yet they do and are liked by thousands. Remember the game The Sims? Thriving on much the same idea, it sold million of CDs, banking mostly on this compulsive controlling nature of most of the people. This topic is quite debatable, much like the topic 'whether video games promote violence among kids?'
    But I think I am unanimously on your side when it takes a toll in the form of apps like these. These apps definitely promote the stereotypes prevalent in earlier times, like you talked in the last paragraph.
    It's nice to see someone taking such a firm stand on topics like these :)

  2. Apps like those are in pretty bad taste. But I wouldn't ban them. There are curated marketplaces where the store owner decides what people can choose from. But of the two evils, I would rate censorship as the bigger one. People can (and do) use their own freedom of expression to condemn these apps, and I think that's the right way to go about it.

  3. There are really apps like these. I had no idea Vaishali!! Oh My!


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