Cracked made a post about the 8 TV Ads that Hate Women (how did they narrow it down to 8 I wonder). It features the tried and true women like shiny things, housework, yogurt, and can’t drive stereotypes. The comments however come out with “what about the men”.
This is so true, but what about the ads that all show the blatant (and completely insulting) stupidity of the Average Male.
Man: “Honey, I can’t seem to get the hang of painting this fence with my face, no matter how much asphalt I use.” (cut to shot of Woman using the Wagner Power Painter and looking at her husband as if he’s just the CUTEST little stupid mammal.
Or what about the commercials for cold medicines?
Man: (in a whiny, childish voice) “My nose is all runny, I’m coughing and my tummy hurts. Also, my penis seems to have eliminated my ability to remember how I cared for myself before you came into my life and asked for large diamonds.”
Woman: (with condescending smile) “Here you go, man thing. They make medicine for that now. Have some DayQuil. Maybe you’ve heard of it.”
Now how about an article where men are shown us complete stereotypes. The article would be 100 pages long.
First you have to get past the presumption that the commercials that show men as idiots are more prevelant than the ones that are meant to make women appear shallow, useless, or not good enough without x product. Once you get past this (if you can–it’s hard to wrap your mind around this type of logic), it’s time to pay attention to that thing behind the curtain. It’s good old patriarchy and it baked you some delicious gender rolls.
Advertisers are working under the presumption that women are the main consumers of the household, so they gear commercials towards them the majority of the time. You’ll notice that practically any commercial for laundry detergent, bleach, toilet cleaner, windex, or the like have women demonstrating how the product will keep their family from imploding. I think that showing men as bumblers goes towards the mothering aspect women are supposed to cultivate–even before they become mothers.
It goes to the concept of the better half–that men go out and work but they just can’t figure out anything around the house ladies! Now it’s your time to shine and take care of your family with (insert name of product here)! The prevailing notion seems to be that men don’t know about cooking, cleaning, child care, how to care for a common cold, etc. because they aren’t supposed to–ladies this is your job. The commercials these men are complaining about are equally unfair to both genders. The guy gets shown as a doofus and the woman gets shown as the savvy consumer–rather than the more likely situation of an equally stressed, irritated person who wants to know when her husband forgot how to do anything for himself. These commercials are supposed to make women feel better I guess, that the home is truly their domain and the men just can’t handle it.
Instead they just reaffirm the whole housemaker ideal but buttress it with “your family is actually helpless and they’ll wither and die if you don’t make them prepackaged foods, do the laundry, care for their illnesses, spray fabric deodorizer and much much more.” On the flip side you have the commercials geared towards men which show women as helpless to resist whatever they’re selling, remember Axe commercials? How about shaving creams, diamonds, flowers, hair coloring and the like?
Sexist advertising is sexist advertising, no matter who it is directed to, “what about the men” ignores the idea that the commercials that show women helpless over jewelry and the commercials that show men helpless over anything mildly domestic are two sides of the same coin. We’re complaining about the same thing–really.
*Any idea what’s going on in that sharing housework picture? It looks like he’s folding the laundry and she’s throwing it away–maybe he didn’t use enough fabric softener.