Gender Inequality in Commercials Is Not Funny
Commercials that juxtapose blameless women with useless men are often amusing, but they reinforce stereotypes that pigeonhole white men as domestic idiots. This intellectually lazy notion inevitably prejudices men in more consequential familial issues surrounding child custody cases, paternity cases and domestic disturbances.
Furthermore, since T.V. commercials portray women as the essential foundation of the basic building block of society – the family – the assertion that they should receive preferential (and unequal) treatment in judicial sentencing seems less sinister. Indeed, the Chivalry Hypothesis in our criminal justice system is well substantiated.
In this multi-media age we’re inundated with comical images of competent women who run efficient households despite clueless white men. These superwomen run a successful business, then come home to balance the budget, fix the computer, walk the dog, assist ailing granny and help the kids with their homework – science, engineering and math, mind you. Meanwhile, the hapless husband in unemployed; exhibits manners that would make an uncouth beast blush; lifts his hand off the game console long enough to swig his beer; then fumbles for more popcorn between the couch crevasses.
I love it – it makes me look good by comparison – until I realize that these stereotypes perniciously pervade society at large, with grave consequences in domesticity issues.. You see, if only women truly foster family unity, then they should curry favor in child custody cases. They do: women receive custody of children in the vast majority of cases.
A national business channel incessantly runs a commercial for Cialis that begins with a bit of wholesome flirtation and the pronouncement: “She inspires you.” What?! Let reality prevail: the Cialis guy is turned on, not inspired. His objective is attractive, for sure, but no Goddess. He just wants to have carnal knowledge.
It just goes to show that even when promoting sensual products advertisers elevate women onto an inspiration-inducing pedestal. While white men are essentially retarded (a word abolished for everyone else) women are like Mary Poppins – practically perfect in every way.
I’ve only known three women that come close – my mother, my wife and my sister (that should cover the bases). The rest are imperfect imposters who deserve as much scrutiny as men, especially those who perpetrate paternity fraud, as exposed here. You wouldn’t realize it from the lack of media coverage, but other studies corroborate the preposterously high rates of misattributed paternity.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised; after all, the consistent advertising message is that women are independent, free, reject marriage and are sexually open. They don’t really need men present to help raise their children – though their money, even if not the biological father, would sure be useful.
The advertising industry bombards us with images of imbecilic white men with impulse control issues. But women are serene and completely faultless, so naturally their complaints of domestic violence are overwhelmingly incontrovertible, right? Not quite, this is just one of many studies that concludes that “women perpetrate physical and emotional abuse, and engage in control behaviors, at comparable rates to men.” But don’t let the facts intrude: men are invariably the ones arrested when the police show up.
Even after committing crimes women warrant special dispensation because they have children to raise and households to run. Advertising media dallies with this theme a lot. Consider the specious FedEx commercial where the immaculate wife chastises her hapless husband for “stealing” office supplies from their daughter, then sanctimoniously asserts how she saves money on her supplies via FedEx. She wears the pants, and the strong implication is that women are the thread that weaves together the fabric of society – despite white men. Put them in jail too long, and it will surely unravel.
Indeed, study after study indicate that women do receive preferential treatment in the courts. This (PDF) one indicates “that women receive more lenient sentences even after controlling for circumstances such as the severity of the offense and past criminal history.”
Here’s one article which demonstrates that men receive sentences that are much higher, on average. Disconcertingly, the study postulates sentencing disparities arise because “judges treat women more leniently for practical reasons, such as their greater caretaking responsibility.”
Commercials certainly reinforce that view. Consider the Tide commercial wherein a protective father tries to preempt his teenage daughter from wearing a short skirt. Instead of counseling her, he’s a typical T.V. male buffoon who decides to wipe his grubby hands on it to make it unwearable. The daughter and mother team up – with Tide – to make the skirt good as new. So far so good? Nope. As the girl leaves for her date in tantalizing clothing she pats her outwitted dad on the head, rubbing his noggin’ like rubbing insult into injury.
Message: men are irrelevant, women run the show. If either runs afoul of the law, the groundwork has been laid for unequal treatment in sentencing. In Britain, also renowned for its anti-male commercialism, they’ve institutionalized this inequality. The Judicial Studies Board, which trains the judiciary over there, has issued guidelines for judges to dispense preferential treatment to female criminals during sentencing. Part of their rationale is that women criminals “…have children to look after.”
A founder of a prominent advertising agency in San Francisco says that politically correct advertising is caught in a vicious cycle: “Television and advertising drive people’s perceptions when it comes to all kinds of other things, like how they feel about politics, societal norms, and so on,” he explains. “As we narrow the picture, the scope of acceptable imagery, then society does the same.”
Yes, society does the same: in child custody cases, in paternity cases, in domestic disputes, and in judicial sentencing, it’s acceptable imagery for white men to not matter much. Women have sharp wits while white men are irrelevant dimwits. Maybe those commercials aren’t so comical, but then again I’m not inspired.