Last night I tweeted:
I challenge ONE consumer goods company to not play into the stupid dad/husband character to sell their crap.
No one has answered my call, but I’ll give them some time. Until then, let me explain what I’m talking about. There is a tired stereotype in consumer products advertising that uses the idea that all men (and especially husbands and fathers) are stupid and useless. In a Yoplait commercial the husband is so stupid he doesn’t know his wife is talking about yogurt when explaining all these wonderful things she’s eaten to lose weight.
More recently, AT&T used the iPhone’s ability to talk and surf the web at the same time to showcase a husband that forgot his anniversary. Husbands: have you ever actually forgotten an anniversary? I haven’t been married long but I’ve been celebrating anniversaries for a while and never missed one. Birthdays too.
Is this sexist? I would argue that it is. Especially when you consider the contrary, stupid mom/wife. How often do you see those? The only time you run unto that is when a sitcom runs out of jokes on dad. That’s often still veiled in a stupid dad joke. Women burned their bras for the right to vote, give them the right to look stupid on camera.
But we all know the real reason. All this stuff isn’t targeted to men. It’s targeted to the women. Who usually buys the groceries? Mom. Who takes the kids to soccer? Mom. I don’t have any studies in front of me, but I’m sure there is considerable research out there that shows mom/wife spends a higher percentage of income than dad/husband. The gender roles of our society make it that way, and so the marketing of consumer goods is mostly targeted towards women.
I just want them to stop playing into a stereotype that at no point in history actually existed. It’s a fantasy of women that have convinced themselves their husbands are useless without them.
There’s a website that tracks these commercials, but it needs more updating.
Oh and triplet lady on the Chase Slate commercial: great job finding out you’re having triplets and then running up hundreds or thousands on your credit card that you admit yourself you can’t pay off in time, and not telling your husband about it until he gets home. He didn’t pass out because of triplets, he passed out because his irresponsible wife can’t keep her card in her purse for one afternoon.
That wasn’t a smile, it was a stroke.