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Chai: a tool of domesticity in adverts

A few years ago, I remember talking to a friend about how in chai adverts, we always seen women preparing chai for their parents, husband, or in-laws. Chai adverts have always been an ode to Pakistani gender roles. Too often, we see women preparing chai for their husbands, or to impress their in laws, or to make their parents proud. Despite chai being so integral to social interaction within pakistan - no gathering is complete without a round of chai - we typically see chai adverts restrict themselves to the family, with women being the ones in the kitchen.



For me personally, chai has always been a means of perpetuating gender roles. I've grown so used to making chai for mehmaan, (which I would spike with two extra teaspoons of chai per cup) that the whole concept of making chai for me has been very gendered. In so many households across Pakistan, girls are taught to make chai to be socialized into the perfect wife. Having seen these ads since we were young children, most Pakistanis do not question the stereotype of women in this domestic role - because its all that we've been exposed to.


Chai ads are broadcasted universally: inbetween sports matches or tv dramas, audiences of all ages and genders in Pakistan view them. The values that are presented in such advertisements are internalized by most of our society. Women are taught that being productive in the kitchen will gain them the approval of the men in their lives - something that they should strive for. Men internalize that women should be serving them, and women internalize that male approval within the family is to be striven for. The stereotype of women performing domestic roles to win male approval further feeds into the male fantasy. Isn't the perfect wife one who comforts her tired husband with a cup of chai?


How often do we see friends sharing a cup of chai with each other? Friends stopping by the local dhaaba for chai? A father making chai for his daughter? A husband for his wife? Last year, Tapal's ad was considered so revolutionary, simply because a man made chai for his wife.



That's why this Lipton Ad has been so refreshing, seeing young adults share a cup of chai outside of a familial setting is so familiar. Seeing men and women interact with eachother so openly, outside of a home setting is unusual to the Pakistani social ideal, but also so common within our lives.



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8 kommenttia


I have always hated how making chai is a gendered role. A woman is expected to make chai, whenever guests come over, husband comes back from work or potential in-laws come with a marriage proposal. And this makes me sad because making chai, for me, is a love language and we should make it regardless of our gender. We should make it for our loved ones, whenever we want to not because we are forced to. Also, I think this mindset also depends on the household you grew up in. I did not know how to make chai for the longest time and I learnt it very recently that too because I wanted to. Moreover, every time I am in…

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I think the way you have pinpointed the chai culture these advertisements promote is amazing. Chai is the integral part of Pakistani households but when it comes to its advertisements, it is unfortunately portrayed as a secret product to survive a rishta ceremony. The Tapal advertisement you are referring to, takes us back to the tea trolley generation. Despite it not starting from the typical rishta scene, we find that as soon as she gets home from university, a dupatta is draped on her head and a tea tray handed to her. The creative agencies need to understand that not all rounds of tea carrying and glances exchanged over a tea cup leads to a fairytale romance and and …

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I would always see the mehmaan coming to our houses and my mom having to make food, chai and what not on short notices. Whatever the case, a mehmaan is not allowed to leave before drinking chai in a Pakistani household and it has become a "duty" for the women of the house o serve the mehmaan of the men of the house. It didn't sit right with me seeing my mom exhausted from the whole day working in the kitchen and not even for her. One may say these ads just represent the cultural environment of Pakistan, and though that deduction may not be wrong, the representation itself is. Ads need to break these stereotypes, and I saw a…

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Aaniah Ahmed 25110324
Aaniah Ahmed 25110324
11. jouluk. 2022

I remember my ama trying to convince me to actually learn how to make chai the right way simply because “larkiyon ko ana chahiye hei yeh sub.” I love that you pointed out that chai can also be used as a means to interact with friends and other people outside a familial setting, or simply put, a setting where a woman is not just trying to serve the men in her life by offering them tea. You also said how you could relate to the Lipton ad as it seemed 'familiar'. I think that's a brilliant way to put it - the most number of times we have chai is not when we're serving fathers or husbands or in-laws, bu…

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Iman Ahmad
Iman Ahmad
10. jouluk. 2022

Your points are very valid and it's often very rare to see women who are frequently expected to make chai to be considered "capable" and "good" women actually be present drinking chai in public spaces like the Dhaaba or local tuk shops. Not to mention, the chai being prepared at these places is almost always being prepared by men. It kind of reminds me of the sentiment of how women are expected to be skilled in fields like clothing, sewing, or cooking yet when you go to Liberty Market, all of the vendors will be men and the top chefs are also men.


To link back to the adverts you have mentioned, I also really appreciate the Lipton ad because…

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