Monday, June 02, 2008

Dirt: The Women's War

Just quickly, have you noticed how a lot of cleaning commercials - especially for Swiffer and various vacuums - portray cleaning as a military campaign run by women? I've been thinking about this for a while. It's so pejorative it makes me angry every time I see some woman sneaking up on her "worst enemy" (dust!) like it's the only way she can make her shut-in life bearable. And there are the ones with women "dismissing" their mops in favor of their swiffers. In one version it's a female executive who appears to be letting an employee go... but no it's really her feather duster! In another a woman is counseled by her mother that it's time to make a change, "for the children" and then her baby starts to cry when... her dirty old mop falls over! (Yes, in one version it's an old English butler, but that always struck me as an after thought.) Anyway, these commercials super bug me. Feminism is about equality for everyone and even though these commercials seem to want to portray women as "powerful go-getters" who know what they want, they instead trivialize the gains women have actually made in the work force (and the world at large) by implying that those gains are still best applied to hearth and home. Actually, the only vacuum commercials I've seen that I don't find pejorative are the Dyson commercials (even though I do find him a wee irritating) because he speaks to his potential customers like they have some possibility of understanding why his product is better based on its actual features rather than an implication that said customers will be "empowered" by their purchase. I may post more on this later, but keep an eye open for such ads if you haven't noticed them and tell me what you think.


SonicLlama said...

The total hard sell nature of the Dyson commercials makes me sort of like them. There are very few commercials as direct as that, so the bluntness comes across as refreshing. At least in the ones I remember when I was last watching Yankee TV.

What if the little dust mites were, like, Nazi dust mites? It would zoom in on them and they'd have little red armbands and such, and then they all get wiped out by some uniformed housewife with a Swiffer? Would that make it better or worse? I sort of think it would be so weird, it could be worth it.

Yvonne said...

I agree Syd, I really loathe watching cleaning commercials. It's tiring seeing these glee filled "Mothers" taking care of their lazy families with these "new and improved" products. Cue young woman with sparkling teeth and perfect hair. "Hi, I am your mother and household slave. I will work full time at a paying job then I'll come home cook, clean, do the laundry and take care of everything with a smile."

I imagine those women cleaning the floors saying "I get rid of stress by mopping my floor and buffing it to a perfect shine......Then I bang my head on it for a couple hours." Because that is the only way I could look that happy about mopping.

While the cleaning topic is up....Can someone tell me why broom/mop handles are made so short? Seriously do manufacturers think all women cease growing when they hit 5 feet tall? I want a broom where I don't have to hunch over so that my hands are jammed down low enough on the handle to use it properly. That must be some sort of manufacturer standard that has not changed in 50 years.

Eric said...

I don't know, I find folding laundry to be very relaxing. And I like vacuuming. But all the commercials are all really sexist. Of course, if they wanted 'realistic' cleaning commercials aimed at guys, it would be a guy looking around his dirty apartment, showing how easy said cleaning product would be to get everything shiny, then some scantily-clad woman entering his apartment that night marveling how clean it looks. Then he gets laid. I should be on Madison Avenue.