Friday, May 23, 2008

Sexism in 2008

The rampant sexism in the current presidential campaign has served as a reminder of just how prevalent sexism still is in the United States, even in 2008. It's not just that Hillary Clinton has been treated like dirt by the media, Howard Dean, the DNC, and a plethora of traitors who chose to jump on the bandwagon of a grossly unqualified, highly suspect male competitor. It's not just that Clinton is being treated like so many other smart, driven women have been throughout history, i.e., looked at as a "bitch"--whereas a similarly driven man would be seen as motivated--and expected to play second fiddle to a male. No, all of that just acts as a reminder that sexism is so prevalent in our society that even today--when women are doctors, lawyers, judges, police officers, astronauts, Supreme Court justices, and so much more--we're still basically second-class citizens.

Don't believe me? Turn on your TV. Watch commercials for products like Pledge, Oust, Flintstones vitamins, Clorox, Lysol, and many others. What's the common theme? It's always mom who does the housework. It's always mom who talks about cleaning products and who's shown taking care of her home and family. It's always mom who knows just how many paper towels a spill needs, or who cleans up after the other people in the family. It's always "Moms know how important..." or "...the one moms choose..." or "we asked these real moms..." or "mom-tested recipes..." Um, where's dad?

Does being born with testicles make men less able to wash dishes or do laundry--correctly? Or is it that being born with ovaries somehow gives women magical powers--within the four walls of their houses only?

I am so sick of seeing ads that make it seem like it's the 1950s instead of 2008. Apparently, the powers that be at certain companies still haven't heard that women have been unchained from the kitchen now for several decades, and that women actually can and do have productive careers other than cooking and cleaning inside their homes. They're apparently unaware that men care about their kids, too, and that men shop, cook, do laundry, wash dishes and vacuum--all without their wives showing them the "right" way to do it [since men are inept morons when it comes to housework]. Yes!, men actually do these things just as competently as women. Yet, for some reason, advertisers still don't get it.

When I contact a company, as I did Lysol most recently, to complain, I typically get a reply that says something along the lines of, "We truly regret that you were dissatisfied with this commercial. Please feel assured that your comments have been passed on to our Brand Manager for consideration in future advertising." But nothing changes. And I really don't get it. Why the insistence on advertising as if we're back in Leave It To Beaver or Father Knows Best days is beyond me. Why alienate women--AND men--who don't recognize themselves in these commercials with outdated gender stereotypes? Shouldn't advertisers pay attention to the realities of modern day life, instead of trying--HARD--to make it look as if women are nothing more than "housewives" with magical powers that only extend to cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry?

On a related note, how about the still-prevalent use of "Miss" and "Mrs" as salutations for women? Sorry, but "Miss" and "Mrs" are archaic, sexist, and outdated; "Ms" is nonsexist and should be used instead.

Think of it like this: The archaic system of referring to women as "Miss" if they're unmarried or "Mrs" if they're married, trivializes their existence as individuals. It gives them identity based on their marital status. Is there an equivalent of that for men? Um, no, of course not. THEY'RE the "owners" in this scenario and we're the PROPERTY.

For "traditionalists" who think these archaic terms are perfectly fine, let me ask you why? WHY should women be referred to in a manner that identifies their marital status? And if women should be identified that way...why not men, too?

1 comment:

blkadr said...

That was a beautiful rant. I have to turn the TV off or leave the room when I see a Clorox commercial come on, otherwise I'd be sorely tempted to put my foot through the screen. My boyfriend is also offended because he's made out to be the mindless twit who can't do a thing for himself.

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