I don’t know about you, ModReaders, but as I watched this old school Folgers commercial, I felt like telling Harvey to go take a hike!
If you are anything like me, one of the reasons you love vintage clothing is the fact that, in addition to being functional, each piece is also an artifact of a specific time and place. Every garment serves as a witness to history in very personal, yet also very political way. The same, I think, is true for the media of yesteryear. In this new ModLife category, entitled “Vintage Sexism,” I will use advertisements, commercials, films, and more to examine and contextualize attitudes toward women and gender roles that existed “back then.” Then, I will invite you, ModReaders, to compare and contrast these artifacts and attitudes to those of today! It is my hope that together, we will engage in some intelligent, thought-provoking conversation!
More “Vintage Sexism” after the jump!
As we just saw, the vintage Folgers commercial did not shy away from using fear and guilt as marketing strategies. “The girls down at the office make better coffee on their hotplates!” Harvey says, implying that if his wife doesn’t learn to make a cup of coffee to his satisfaction, he’s going to start going to “the girls” to take care of his caffeine habit. Well now, isn’t he a winner?
[Images: beautyblitz.net and ipernity.com]
These next two ads (above) employ marketing strategies similar to those used by the Folgers commercial. The ad at left is for a soap called “Beauty in the Morning.” It reads, “Take a look in your morning mirror. See the memory your husband carries with him day after day. Is it a magnet alluring enough to draw him right home night after night? Or do you spend your afternoons dreading that hated phone call ‘I won’t be home tonight?'” Well, this woman is taking matters into her own hands and chopping down the telephone pole with a perky smile on her face. The ad leads us to believe that this woman can put a stop to her husband’s implied infidelity by…using a different soap?
In the adjacent ad at right, we see a wife whose husband has, in fact, returned home, only to have locked her out of the bedroom because her “intimate” body odor is so terrible. Her plea, in urgent capital letters at the top of the page, along with the symbolic locks on the door, labeled “doubt,” “inhibitions,” and “ignorance” (all the things that have prevented her from using Lysol), suggest that the woman is entirely to blame for her husband’s rejection. “Often” it is the wife who “fails” and “neglect[s]” to realize that it is she who is shutting herself out from “happy married love.” Hmmm.
[Image Above: pzrservices.typepad.com]
These next three ads send a similar message, but in a subtler, (slightly) more tactful manner. Rather than overtly attempting to convince a woman that her husband will leave her if she does not purchase such and such, these ads tacitly demonstrate that the wife is responsible for ensuring her husband’s marital bliss. If she is successful in making the “right” purchase, she will keep her husband happy, earn his parent-like approval, and the marriage will remain intact. Yup, that’s right, ladies. Just take your vitamins, and you will never, ever stop dusting the banister or baking casseroles.
[Image Above: my-retrospace.blogspot.com]
Women, when you want to impress your husband, buy the right dish detergent. He might even give you a gold star on your chore chart!
Didn’t you know? “Husbands admire wives who keep their stocking perfect.” Wives, you’d best be taking care of your hosiery. Don’t believe me? Take a closer look at the direction of this gentleman’s gaze. He is staring directly at his wife’s stockinged legs, waiting for that run to happen. The moment it does, he’s bound to throw a tantrum and high-tail it out the door.
What do you have to say about these advertisements, ModReaders? Do the ads or the commercial featured in this post remind you of any commercials or ads on television or in magazines right now (or ones that have been, recently)? Do you think our societal attitude toward women and construction of gender roles have “come a long way,” or do we still have a long way to go?