12 (Not so Vintage!) Sexist Advertisements

by :|05/20/13

Wouldn’t a culture where  men and women make decisions and negotiate supporting each other (without gender stereotyping of either sex) create a society that benefits from the skill and talent of the whole population? Just saying…  But I guess that would be to eradicate prejudice and inequality in general — and how do you change an engrained mindset that believes women are (or any other group is) inferior and undeserving of equal rights or consideration? (But, while we figure it out, I don’t see how it can hurt for men  to continue to “open the ketchup bottle,” (see ad #5!)

1. Women Don’t Leave the Kitchen, Hardees, 1950′s

The fast food chain is direct in making their point that, “as we all know, a woman’s place is in the home, making a man a delicious meal.” But men, if you don’t have “a little miss waiting on you,” then you should come to their restaurant. This reinforces notion that men are helplessly unable to cook — and that it’s a woman’s place to both cook for them AND wait on them.

2. “Don’t Worry, Darling, You Didn’t Burn the Beer!” Schlitz Beer, 1952

The wife is sobbing and falling to pieces over having burned dinner. Women of course tend to be emotionally fragile and easily upset when faced with even small challenges or disappointments. And just what use is she if she can’t even cook for her husband? And, rather than suggesting going to a restaurant, the husband is just as happy to have beer for dinner rather than food — adding another layer to the disturbing themes already taking place.

3. “If Your Husband Ever Finds Out You’re Not Store-testing for Fresher Coffee… Woe Be Unto You” Chase and Sanborn Coffee

Which will you have? Milk, 2 sugars — or a domestic abuse incident?  (How do you “store-test” for coffee? I guess with a raging maniac in the house you would need to find out!)  It seems there would be need to plan this woman’s funeral if she ever burned dinner. In this instance the threat is “If your husband finds out that you’re still taking chances on getting flat, stale coffee, woe be unto you…” My God, talk about entire unreasonable insanity. I think I would rather be married to the man who is fine to have beer for dinner.

4. “Is It Always Illegal to Kill A Woman?” Pitney Bowes Postage Meter, 1947

Maybe it’s the same lunatic that feels entitled to beat his wife (for not store-testing? fresher coffee) that is now upping the ante by contemplating the murder of a female office worker who is hesitant to use a Pitney Bowes Postage Meter. He questions “Is it Always Illegal to Kill A Woman?” as if considering if frustration over her not using the damn postage meter might be sufficient grounds to kill her and beat the charges.

5. You Mean a Woman Can Open It…?” Alcoa Aluminum, 1957

A woman can open a ketchup bottle? All by herself? No! Stop! How would she know which way to turn the cap? (Are there arrows that clearly point in the direction it needs to turn?) What a remarkable accomplishment of strength, dexterity, not to mention judgment. I didn’t know that women without husbands were even able to use ketchup.

6. “Men are Better Than Women,” Drummond Sweaters, (ran in Esquire in 1959)

These superior men in the sweaters have said it, so it must be true. “Men are better than women.” The ad copy reads: “Indoors women are useful — even pleasant. On a mountain they are something of a drag.” (Is the ad to sell sweaters or demean women?) The woman in the ad seems to be suspended by a string of yarn (from the sweater?) like a dog on a leash — as she has presumably fallen off a cliff due to her own intrinsic stupidity. The superior men don’t pay any attention to her.   They are of course too busy being better than women.

7. “Now She Can Cook Breakfast,” Mornidine, 1959

Mornidine is a drug designed to combat morning sickness. The ad copy makes no mention of eliminating the woman’s personal discomfort from the nausea and vomiting pregnancy symptoms.  It asserts only that “Now She Can Cook Breakfast.” It seems like a “quit your complaining, and, chop-chop get back in the damn kitchen” — we should maybe add barefoot to pregnant so we’re in keeping with the full stereotypical view.

8. “Christmas Morning She’ll Be Happier with a Hoover.”

Buying anyone a  vacuum cleaner (broom, mop, scrub brush…) as a Christmas gift seems more like giving them a ”to do” list than an actual gift. I guess after she cooks the food she can get busy cleaning the house.

9.  It’s the Bolder Look In Shirts, Van Heusen Shirts

I’m sorry.  It’s my unthinking oversight to  not have considered that; similar to resort wear, a man might  enjoy choosing  (from his Van Heusen collection) a special color shirt to  “fit the mood” when he’s beating a woman. He’s first in a daring “abuse mode” pink shirt beating a redhead, then it’s an audacious blue shirt for kissing a blonde — and finally a  more subdued yellow for being admired by a brunette — or is that his mother?

10. The MiniAutomatic. For Simple Driving. 1970

This could also be called The MiniAutomatic. For simple-minded driving. The driver appears to look like a deer caught in the headlights or heavily medicated by anti-psychotic drugs. We are to believe she is incompetent, inept, nervous and of course very confused. She clearly needs to make the huge challenge of driving a car made more simple to match her simple mind.

11. “Sooner or Later, Your Wife Will Drive Home One of the Best Reasons for Owning a Volkswagen. Volkswagen, 1964

The ad copy reads: “Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things” (to assume this is a given.)  VW parts (the ad continues) are easy to replace. It may make you furious but it won’t make you poor.” Is there any concern about damage to the wife resulting from a car accident (which we are told is just destined to take place?) No. The main point is that the  car parts  are easy and inexpensive to replace — and it may make the husband  furious if his wife  damages the car.

12. Nice Headlamps,” 2009

This billboard appeared in 20 high-profile and high-traffic locations in Northern Ireland in 2009. There was objection that it degraded and objectified women attributing cleavage to a cars headlamps and suggesting that women, like cars, were commodities to be bought and sold.