This blog is amazing! I wrote my undergrad thesis on the ways in which advertising uses sexism and the notion of beauty as a way to keep women in a position of subordination in society. I really appreciate what you are doing here. What was your inspiration for the blog?
It’s the 21st century, and while geeks and comedians worldwide bemoan our lack of flying cars* and meals in pill form, I take umbridge with just how unenlightened we are. We like to think we’re pretty civilized, that we’re fairly intelligent. Far from it. We still believe in magical space wizards and talking snakes. We still think that bearded people with dark skin are more likely to blow up our national landmarks than someone white. We still think men are the strong ones and women are weaklings who have no purpose in society other than to maintain our homes, cook our meals, and have our babies.
To make it worse, our media is normalizing these viewpoints. Fox News remind us that anyone who doesn’t believe in their particular magical space wizard is un-American, and that terrorists are plotting to kill you - yes, you! - right now.
Fox News is easy to deal with - it’s on one network.
Advertising that attempts to reenforce gender stereotypes, however, are everywhere. They’re on most TV networks. They’re on the radio. They’re on the internet. And in magazines and movies and at ball games and on buses and milk cartons and T-shirts and written in the sky (but not in dreams). Commercials everywhere telling us all one thing - men are Men, women are Women, and that’s all there is to it.
I’m fed up of advertising telling me that I’m less of a man because I enjoy salads, or because I’m not particularly skilled in the DIY department. I’m fed up of hearing commercials that imply that my girlfriend is little more than a walking set of boobs whose ultimate goal is to shit out some kids before we both turn 30. I’m tired of being told that I need to propose to her, and that she needs that wedding because it’s the most important thing that will ever happen to her. I’m tired of being told that the only way I can attract women is if I use a particular deodorant and wear a particular brand of sunglasses and drive a particular model of car. I’m fed up of my girlfriend being told that she’s the one who should be keeping the kitchen clean, so she should buy this brand of thing to make it sparkle the cleanest. I’m fed up of being told that when I’m the one in charge of cleaning or cooking I will invariably fuck it up so I might as well just have a beer instead. I’m fed up of my girlfriend being told she’ll lose me if she doesn’t read Cosmo.
We’re fed up. We’re mad as Hell and we’re not going to take it anymore. Tumblr is home to a great many blogs I admire including STFU, Sexists and Robot Heart Politics, and although I’m not as politically minded as the people who run those wonderful blogs I wanted to contribute in some small way.
I asked my girlfriend if she wanted to join in. She said yes. A friend of mine, Pascalle, encouraged me to start the blog and I asked her if she wanted to contribute. She said yes.
So that’s the origin story. A little less Batman: Year One than it could have been. Next time I tell it I’ll try to throw in a vampire or something.
* Come 2015 the fans will be shouting “where are our flying cars?” in full force thanks to Back to the Future Part II, without really considering that for flying cars to be as common as they were in the future depicted int hat movie, for flying cars to drastically changed the way we get from A to B, the first consumer-model flying cars would have had to hit the market within the last few years. They haven’t. Yet 2015 is going to come, the geeks are going to rage, and I’m going to have to put a saucepan on my head and hit it with a spoon repeatedly to try and drown them out. But anyway.
“I swear to god I will lose my mind if I hear the “sex sells” fallacy one more time. Sex does not sell. If sex sold, we would see penises where we see boobs. Naked men would be on everything that naked women are on. Sex isn’t what they’re selling you. They’re selling you an impossible, pornographically fueled misogynistic idea of the perfect woman.”—(via littlelightx)
Hey there! The three of us are super-jazzed to have you joining us for this trip down You’re The Wrong Gender For This Lane. Well one of us is, at least. That’s me. Hello!
At the moment we’re all busy living busy lives and aren’t able to put the research into this blog that we’d like to, although if we find something we’ll likely post it sooner rather than later. If you find something, why not send it our way? We have an email address and a Tumblr submit jobby on the right sidebar there. Do send us any sexist ads you might find, from TV commercials to magazines and billboards, even radio clips if you’ve got ‘em. Let’s bust this thing wide open!
I used to just think ‘that sucks’ when I saw shit like this, and move on. But not any more. Part of being a modern feminist is not simply internally admonishing something and then doing nothing real about it. It’s time to rise up and fight this bullshit, which is why I sent the Dixon Group (PC World’s parent company; the contact information given on PC World’s corporate website) the following letter:
In this advert, a male voiceover describes the specifications of a laptop he has purchased for university work. He then says: “And when my girlfriend wants to go online, this Sony netbook comes in really handy,” going on to mention only its price and your trade-in scheme.
If you cannot sell your product without resorting to ridiculous and oppressive gender stereotypes, you have failed as a retailer.
How was this advert written, approved, commissioned, filmed, edited and broadcast with no-one realising how utterly condescending it is? It implies that only men purchase PCs for work; a woman has nothing better to do with a computer than browse the internet. Why would she bother her pretty head with a university course? And of course her machine has to be pretty and pink! And why bother with the technical specs? It’s not as though your female customers will be interested in them. But then what should I expect from a company that renamed its tech support branch from PC Service Call to The Tech Guys? Way to alienate your female employees. But what would we women know? Clearly we’re too stupid to use real computers, according to your advert.
Doubtless you’ll be able to give me some statistics showing how few women work in tech-related jobs/take tech-related courses, or how big a proportion of your customer base is male. Fair enough, then; clearly, women just aren’t interested in joining these fields. After all, it’s not as though it’s hard for women to get into tech fields because we’re taught from a young age that ‘science/maths/tech is not for girls’. It’s not as though it’s just social programming rather than any inherent biological differences. It’s not as though we face condescension and mockery if we do dare to enter the field, or that it’s hard for us to be taken seriously. It’s not as though we’re sick of your sexist and patronising drivel.
Yours in disgust,
Ms Anna Ghislaine
Yes, I did pinch the ‘too stupid to use a real computer’ line from Amy Nicholson; it was just too appropriate and punchy a line not to.
Not sure what I’ll get out of it - a retraction of the advert and a press release apologising for it would be a fantastic outcome, but I’ll probably just get a form letter and a £5 voucher or something. Apparently this kind of advert is normal for PC World - from tweeting about it and talking about it with an online friend, I learned that last Christmas they had an advert with a woman wanting ‘any PC as long as it’s red’, and there was also a string of adverts with a ‘stupid dad’ theme (hello, ageism!).
I urge any of my followers who are sick of this shit too to write your own letter to the Dixon Group, as well as any other company who uses fucking stupid and tired stereotypes to push their product or service. Fuck this noise.
(Edit: I just re-watched the advert and realised he says work and play, as opposed to the woman’s computer being just for the internet. So women don’t play computer games, or write code, draw digital pictures, etc. for fun?)
I saw a woman in PC World once. Naturally I alerted a member of staff who had her removed from the premises.
to be fair, it's a parody. Maybe that's a bad excuse, but still! It's a parody of a famous photograph, it's not on the same level as an Axe "play with my balls" ad or anything.
I don’t think that really excuses it. They’re showing a woman’s backside with the caption “TAKE ADVANTAGE”. Does that really strike you as okay?
Ew, gross. A man that cooks! I can’t believe he even has any friends. Well, he doesn’t anymore, after the biscuit fiasco.
Carl’s Junior/Hardee’s has a long history of glaringly sexist ads that seem to only get a pass because they reinforce stereotypical male gender roles. This same approach simply would not fly if applied to women: