Thursday, December 11, 2008

Women and Advertising

Guest post! This piece comes from the illustrious keyboard of our friend Alex Lyons.

Advertising. Bill Hicks used to say, “if you work in advertising, kill yourself.” Haha, right? He wasn’t kidding, and I’m starting to realize why. At least once a day I’m flabbergasted by how women are portrayed in adverts, especially television commercials.

In the world of television commercials, women are relegated to either the kitchen, or to a Swiffer WetJet. They are subhumans who prepare nachos for her husband and his jock-douchebag friends while they watch “the game”. Also, women are the only ones who use a paper towel, and know how to bake some Tater Tots.

Tim just told me about Ford’s new campaign, it’s called: “Women Ain’t Aughta Drive!”

Oh, and by the way, did you see the one with the girl and her boobs? The blond one. With the impossible body, and botox smile? Yeah, well, she told me to drink Diet Coke. I suggest you do the same.

To be fair, the bulk of the commercials I’m referring to, and have a major fucking problem with, are for domestic products. That is, cleaning products, house decor, and things you stick in the oven. It’s true that I have seen women portrayed positively in commercials before, but when it comes to the domestic market, women are pigeonholed into replacing the toilet paper roll. Why are women still portrayed as the domestic goddess? Sure some women embrace the Victorian notion of domesticity, but as a man, I buy paper towels too. I like to put food in the oven. I’m sure I’m not the only one. So why, I ask you, do these companies only cater to the female demographic?

Because they’re sexist.

There is frequent discussion about the standards of beauty the media portrays, and while I have a problem with that, I think people generally ignore the gender roles some of these companies propagate.

I’d like to see a man in a store, thinking about what to make for dinner. I’d like to see a man dancing around his home, Risky Business style, cleaning up some dust. I actually wouldn’t care to see that, but you know what I mean.

What I want is balance. Not because I feel men are underrepresented in these kinds of adverts, but because women are being stereotyped. Certainly that kind of domestic woman exists, and that’s fine, but it’s not ALL women. How about some variety, Mr. Corporation? Is that too scary for you?

Get your head out of the middle ages, you sexist suckers of Satan’s serpent. And by serpent, I mean evil. You are all evil.

For Bill Hicks’ views on marketing and advertising, see here:


  1. Our best post ever! Thanks ALEX!

  2. My favourite sexist ad, and by favourite I mean the one that makes me the most angry, is about vacuum cleaners. It portrays several women (house wives of course) struggling with clumsy old models of vacuum cleaners, they look so frustrated! Then a middle aged white man engineer vacuum-scientist type, read western male technology, comes to the rescue of all the poor housewives who don’t have the minds for tricky engineering business with his fabulous new vacuum cleaner model! Housewives can now vacuum away with ease! Clearly this ad reinforces gender roles of women as clueless housewives dependent on white men to think for them and of white men as the proprietors of western technology which rules all. And of course it reinforces the notion that men never vacuum, men only take pity on silly housewives and offer them some help with their brainiac vacuum wizardry. Thank you thy lord father of the vacuum cleaner.