Professor K. Mayberry
April 8, 2012
Women; Stuck In The Past
As far back as the earliest date in history, women have always been portrayed as the weaker of the two sexes. Now as seen in today’s society, women have made major strides in history, such as achieving the right to vote, running for presidency of the United States and even become the CEO of a major corporation. Yet why does the advertising in magazines and television continue to hold women in the past as the “ Traditional Housewife”? It seems no matter how far women move forward in the world and strive for equality, the eyes of the advertising world will forever keep this image alive. Too many ads still enact stereotypes of gender roles.
Speaking of stereotyping in advertising, I found a few examples showing women doing daily duties as the Traditional Housewife would. First ad displays a middle-aged African American woman about in her thirties, balancing a pile of dirty dishes in her left hand and wiping off her already clean countertop with her right hand. The advertisement is for Brawny paper towels, which has a male lumberjack for their logo to show strength, but women are always the gender playing the role of kitchen cleaner. My biggest issue with this ad is that Brawny shows that women are strong enough to tackle the toughest of kitchen messes. They also have the strength to carry all those dishes, yet they aren’t strong enough to fix cars or be on a Home Depot ad fixing a sink or remodeling a bathroom. These advertisements along with many others are completely sexist and give absolutely no credit to a woman’s true strengths.
My next ad example has multiple gender role confusion issues, and really displays how the advertising agencies perceive women. A Swifter Wetjet ad shows a Caucasian female in her forties holding the Swifter in both hands, while what it looks like is her son sitting at the dining room table eating. The creators of this advertisement used a front camera angle to convince their audience that if the child were to make a mess that their product and mother will be tough enough to clean up any job. Unfortunately the problem with this particular advertisement is that women are seen again as the primary family and household caregiver. Today’s generations have flipped roles where men are more likely to stay home and take the responsibility of the “ Traditional Housewife”. But instead of the ad agencies creating an advertisement to the new era they continue to keep women down and truly deny the female gender the respect and acknowledgement they rightly deserve.
Last, but not least is an advertisement dated back to the sixties, where women were just starting to enter the business world, and break free from the typical stereotyping. Lester Oil produces a chemical cleaning agent that destroys grease and hard to remove oil spots, from your stove, floor or dishes. This ad features a Caucasian lady around her fifties dressed in a astronaut suit holding a bottle of Lester Oil in her hands as she looks into the distance, but the advertisement has no slogan, no writing whatsoever. My biggest issue with this ad that aggravates me about this ad is, for instance they subliminally state that women have the potential to be astronauts, but yet they have her in a cleaning ad. How do they advertise a major position with NASA?
All in all, by these ads using sexist images, society and the advertising world will never free women from that Traditional Housewife role or live up to their full potential. How can they when the world continues to hold women back in the past? Women can most certainly appear in cleaning ads, but why not feature the same amount of men to show that important equality factor. Trends, styles and history change everyday, why can’t the media and society allow women to do the same.