Traditional gender roles are passed down through generations -- but a new commercial is proving that cycle can be broken if men step up.
Created by Indian detergent company Ariel, a video campaign called #ShareTheLoad highlights how traditional gender roles are passed down from generation to generation in households around the world. The campaign, which launched in 2015, shows the impact parents' behaviors and actions in the house have on their children and how men's participation in day-to-day chores can break down larger and problematic gender stereotypes.
Published on Feb. 19, the latest #ShareTheLoad commercial features a young Indian woman coming home from work to her husband on the couch and her father and her young son playing. The woman is on a work call while she gets dinner ready and cleans up the house. The father of the young mom sits and watches as his daughter runs her house, alone.
"I am so sorry. Sorry that you have to do this all on your own, sorry that I never stopped you while you were playing house," the dad says in a voiceover. "I never told you that it’s not your job alone… but your husband’s too."
As the dad watches his daughter cook, clean and take care of her son, he realizes this isn't her fault -- it's his own. "But how could I say it when I never helped your mom either. And what you saw, you learned," he says. "Your husband must have learned the same thing from his dad... Sorry on behalf of his dad. Sorry on behalf of every dad who set the wrong example."
The commercial offers a solution to break the cycle of traditional gender roles. "It’s not too late, I will make a conscious effort to help your mom with the household chores," the dad says in the video. "I may not become the king of the kitchen, but at least I can help out with the laundry. All these years I’ve been wrong, it’s time to set things right."
The video quickly went viral, receiving over 110,000 shares on Ariel India's Facebook page in less than a week.
When little girls and boys play house they model their parents' behavior; this doesn’t just impact their childhood games, it shapes their long-term dreams. -Sheryl Sandberg in response to the Ariel India commercial
Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg shared the video on Facebook because she was so moved by the commercial. "This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen -- showing how stereotypes hurt all of us and are passed from generation to generation," Sandberg wrote. "When little girls and boys play house they model their parents' behavior; this doesn’t just impact their childhood games, it shapes their long-term dreams."
Josy Paul, Chief Creative Office of BBDO India, the advertising company that created the #ShareTheLoad campaign, told The Economic Times of India that the most important message of the commercial is to promote "household equality."
"The film is about roles and responsibility, and about setting the right example by being the right role model," Paul told the Times. "The film is about ensuring the right message for the next generation, free from prejudice."
It's insightful videos like these that make us realize it truly can be the little things that count. More of this, please.