Rhea Verma
Guest Article

Myntra: Let’s Talk About Sex

A frank opinion piece on the whole Myntra mania – straight from the desk of a young, female planner.

In a world riddled with problems that need to be solved – climate change, despotism, poverty, inequality, racism, casteism, sexism, homophobia, hunger, pandemics – Myntra has changed its logo. Chalk one up for the virtue signallers. A problem that wasn’t a problem was “identified” and “solved,” all before anyone realised what was happening.

Myntra's new logo
Myntra's new logo

The “activist” who fought this silly battle and won seems to be struck with a very niche form of pareidolia – that phenomenon where plug sockets look like sad emojis or clouds look like ice cream cones to the human eye. It seems to some, typography looks like pornography.

Many memes have been made on the issue – and I can’t really blame the meme-makers. The issue is ridiculous when viewed from every angle (particularly the angle that apparently looks like a woman with splayed legs, about to have a very fun night). Like the optical illusion of the hag and the beauty, it is now impossible for the entire nation (and I’m sure the entire Myntra team) to unsee the sexual liberation in this logo.

As a marketer, a few things are clear.

1. Obviously this now-not-so-subliminal message was completely unintentional.

2. This is an absurd waste of resources.

3. This is a great PR stunt.

We dream of our work being able to capture the national conversation the way this farcical story has. To get this kind of organic media real estate takes a lightening in a bottle moment – and apparently, an “activist” with an overactive imagination.

As a vocal and avowed feminist, however, there is only one point to make here.

Yes, this is a feminist issue.

But not in the way that the “activist” who filed the police case was hoping it would be.

I have no intention of rallying behind her as India’s new Steinemesque feminist icon or letting her lead the way in the fight for women’s equality. She is neither the protector of my modesty nor of my sentiments.

Even if the Myntra team had intentionally designed and approved a logo that was meant to surreptitiously depict a woman opening her legs and giving everyone a saucy glimpse of what is hers to flash, I am not offended.

I am not offended simply because the vagina is not offensive. A woman spreading her legs consensually is not offensive. I assume that this mysterious lady hidden within the prongs of Myntra’s ‘M’ has her legs wide open consensually as I see no other figures hidden with her, coercing her to do anything against her will.

If the ‘M’ were a woman who is proudly displaying her vagina for the world to see, all I can say is – you go, girl! You do with your body whatever the hell you want to do – and don’t you let anyone else – woman or not, activist or not – tell you that what you choose to do with your body and your sexual agency is offensive to the sentiments of your sex.

Culturally, as the land of the Kama Sutra, the goddess Rati, and Khajurao, a woman’s sexuality has not only been acknowledged, but worshipped. Thousands of years ago India understood and celebrated the vagina and women who spread their legs (the very source of humanity, remember?). Have we forgotten that we still pray to ShivLings, which depict the lingam emerging from the yoni?

The “activist” and Myntra’s immediate capitulation to her preposterous police case have not won a battle for the feminist cause. In fact, they have only succeeded in propagating the harmful and degrading social construct that an Indian woman’s sexuality is something she should be ashamed of, and something that other people should be offended by (as though another person’s feelings have any place in a woman’s relationship with her own sexuality).

Erasing obscure and unintentional references to a woman’s body and her sexuality is not empowering, it is diminishing.

Myntra’s new logo has changed very little. Where earlier two layered prongs created a teardrop that some apparently thought was a vagina, now there’s simply one opaque prong over another. It continues to look like a direct view of a supine figure’s splayed legs. However, now the ‘M’ doesn’t have any aspects that could be mistaken for genitalia from any angle.

Perhaps the new logo is a mannequin?

(The author is partner, strategic planning at Rediffusion.)