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.