Thursday, February 26, 2009

And Now a Word from our Sponsors...

People always ask me how relevant i believe feminism to be: "haven't we come a long way since outwardly sexist discrimination?" Maybe. I will agree that in a lot of ways sexism (as well as other forms of oppression) are a lot more subtle and insidious than they used to be. However, even though we have come far we aren't even close to there yet. Women continue to make less than men, women continue to fight for reproductive rights and control of their own bodies, and women remain out-numbered in politics, economy, and other positions of power.

One arena in which sexism never ceases is the media. Commercials continue to use tired gender stereotypes in their advertising believing people react positively to this, and maybe they do, because if they didn't market researchers would need to come up with different strategies.

I came across a video yesterday that put together sexist commercials from the 1950's, 60's and 70's. These commercials are clearly sexist, one voice over states, "every woman needs to be herself at times, and that means baking!" The commercials start about 1:00 min into the video.

But then i remembered commercials i saw just this past month during the Super Bowl that were just as bad!


and then earlier this year the commercial that made me want to hurl my TV out the window, never have children for fear of ruining them, and write many angry letters to Playskool:

I wrote more about this disturbing commercial last year and there was some controversy in the comment section. Playskool is advertising a "place where she can entertain her imagination!" as the little girl is shown with the washer and drying saying, "let's do laundry!"

So sure, maybe we have "come a long way" since women were denied the right to vote but we certainly aren't there yet.


Anonymous said...

Another way to put it: if you get into (geostationary) Earth orbit, then you've certainly gone a long way; but if you're aiming for the moon, then you've still got a much longer way to go!

phd in yogurtry said...

I felt a wave of depressing frustration watching the Academy Awards ... so many men receiving the awards. I didn't see every award, but in every category that I watched, besides those designated for women (best female supporting, etc) were handed to men.

And yes, there are so many subtle (if not blatant) sexist messages in commercials it hurts. I'm raising two daughters and I'm relieved to say I believe messages from home overcome silly TV commercials to some degree. But they are still little. I'll save my final vote for their adult years.

Amelia said...

Excellent collection of commercials. I think they illustrate your point quite nicely. Isn't it so nice of the patriarchy to stop hiding and just come out with their true feelings?

Smirking Cat said...

Dear god, how far have we really come? Check out any billboard, magazine cover, run of the mill movie poster, and tell me how respected women are in our culture. We have a hell of a way to go.

Jay said...

So I could probably comment more than I plan to, but I won't, because honestly I'm tired and this is honestly the first time I've been home all week after far too many hours spent working at the hospital, but I want to make quick comment on the last commerical by Playskool. I spend a good 60-70 hours a week hanging out and taking care of kids of all ages, from the very sickest, to the the healthy well-visits; so I'm pretty well aquainted with how they grow and develop. Simply put, children develop by immitation. They learn to speak by listening and repeating, they learn to eat by watching parents eat, they learn hygiene by immitating family members brushing teeth, etc. Parent after parent (mother and father alike, all depending on who is home with them on a daily basis) report to me that their kids love to do what they do. If parents are vaccuuming, that's what the kids want. If parents are cooking, that's what the kids want, if parents are dusting, doing laundry, driving, you name it, that is what the kids want to do. So while I see and can appreciate how you take offense to the commercial, I cannot say that I agree with you. As ridiculous as it may seem, toys like that are huge in the proper development of kids, boys and girls alike. However at the same time, you don't see toys like this marketed towards boys, instead you see toys that can be construed as violent, adventurous, or "manly" (police, firefighters, etc.) geared towards the boys. That is equally as sexist and deserves equal mention if it is truly equality you seek in society, instead of only making commentary regarding the females (yes, yes, I understand the term feminist, but I'm more in favor of looking at the bigger picture). In any case in my opinion there is nothing wrong with the boys playing with the "Rose Petal Cottage" or what have you. I hear equally from parents that the boys are trying to clean and do whatever, just as their parents do, unfortunately society does not necessarily agree and this is what we wind up with.