Ask for a list of the most sexist ads of all time and you get what's expected – Zoo Weekly promos and cigarette ditties from the days of yore. But it's the oft-overlooked ads favoured by cleaning products and department stores that are guilty of a far more insidious brand of sexism.
You know the ones. They're brightly-lit and populated with women only too happy to wash the dishes, do the laundry or shop for nappies. They spruik how Omo is the brand mums love the most or how Finish is the dishwashing liquid most trusted by Australian mums. That's right, mums. Not dads, not customers, not single people. Not even just Australians.
Don't even get me started on those lobotomy-inducing Kmart ads - I'd like to see some men act like dithering idiots in the face of $3 t-shirts - so not 'OK'.
I understand the argument about 'mums' apparently being the primary grocery decision makers in a household. But Lynx also understands what its target market wants to see – large breasts – and obliges, but is still derided for sexist advertising. Double standards much?
Here is my fundamental problem with these seemingly innocuous ads: they reinforce an antiquated concept of women as caretakers in the familial home. By marginalising the possibility of men performing domestic tasks, it lets those of the XY chromosomal variety off the hook. Just look at the most recent census data. 26% of men did no unpaid domestic work compared to 17% of women, while at the other end of the scale only 4% of men did more than 30 hours of work compared to 16% of women.
While these covert ads may not have scantily-clad, oiled-up women frolicking in a fountain, it’s no less damaging to the progress of gender equality. If these advertisers continue to market their products in this patronising manner, let’s call them out on it, much like we did with the likes of Windsor Smith.
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