Recently, I read this excellent piece by Alison Graham in the Radio Times, lambasting sexism in advertisements. Then my parents passed on this little gem by Michael Hogan from The Observer a week or so ago.
Sexism is alive and well, and seemingly growing by the day. Not only are our children being brainwashed into believing that everything from toys to nappies can be “for girls” or “for boys”, but we are being increasingly bombarded with advertising which should have gone out with the ark.
How many times do you see a male actor extolling the virtues of air freshener, cleaning products or even bed linen? (I’ll give you a clue: never.) Female sexual arousal is used to sell everything from yoghurt to shampoo (I’m looking at you, Nicole Scherzinger), and Proctor and Gamble love mothers above all else.
Sadly, men are not immune from this aggressive marketing either. The latest hair removal adverts imply that men should remove hair not only from their chins, but also from their arms, chests and necks. Men are also told to moisturise, wear specially designed perfumes and always strive towards that six-pack. They are also used as sex objects (although not as often as women are).
However, outside the world of advertising, the media are really no better. Michael Hogan’s piece (see link above) brilliantly makes this point by subjecting male politicians to the sort of catwalk treatment that female politicians receive in our tabloid media. You’re more likely to be told what a woman is wearing, or how many children she has, before you hear what she’s there to do. David Cameron’s latest cabinet reshuffle was widely dismissed as a cynical ploy to get more women into the cabinet before the 2015 general election. Very little was said about whether these female politicians might have been chosen because they were good at their jobs.
Most of us are not aware of the pervasiveness of the media and advertising. As savvy consumers, we think we’re immune to this type of brainwashing. However, I would love to know how many of my female readers shave their legs, always wear make-up or have a bikini wax now and then; or how many of my male readers use male hygiene products and moisturisers, habitually remove the hair on their chests or lust after a great six-pack. I have absolutely nothing against any of these things per se, and if you want to do them, then go right ahead. I myself like my hair to look a certain way and always wear earrings.
All I’m asking is that you stop and think about why you do them.