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April 16, 2008

Attention Advertisers: Stop the Sexist Commercials!

My kids love to listen to the radio in the car.  They've never really been into the "kiddie music," although sometimes they like a little Laurie Berkner or Dirty Sock Funtime Band.  But give them a little Black Eyed Peas and they'll be bopping in their car seats.  The drawback of radio play is, of course, the commercials.  Sometimes my kids will sing catchy jingles incessantly.

I've never really had a problem with my kids listening to the radio or watching appropriate TV, despite the annoying jingle repetition, until a few days ago when my eyes were forced open wide.

We were heading to daycare and the kids were bopping along to the radio in the backseat.  A commercial for Food Lion came on and I thought nothing of it.  Food Lion is currently running ads for some food race sweepstakes they're having with a Nascar theme. In the commercial we heard, there are race car zooming noises - the kids immediately picked up on those - and then the "mom" says, "I'm racing because I have a husband and four hungry kids at home to feed!"

"Yes, here we go again," I thought.  Mom is feeding everyone.  Mom cleans the house with pine scented cleaning products and the help of a mysteriously appearing bald man.  Mom can't believe those scrubbing bubbles.  Mom has the wonder of all vacuum cleaners, capable of picking up iron anvils from the carpet. I rolled my eyes at the sexist advertising drivel and tuned the commercial out.  Until I heard my two year old in the back making race car noises, followed by my 3 year old calling out "Mommy is racing to feed us!  Mommy is racing to feed us."

Screeeeeeech!

I mentally slammed my brakes, realizing that, while I may be immune to all the sexist messages in commercials, my children aren't.  Yet.

Yes, women still bear the majority of household duties, even if they work full time.  Yes, women still bear the brunt of child rearing responsibilities, even if they work full time.  Yes, women do the majority of the shopping, even if they work full time.  But how on earth are we ever going to change that if our gender roles are constantly reinforced by cheesy, patronizing advertising? 

Do advertisers really think we won't buy their products if, heaven forbid, a man is shown using them? C'mon, we all know better.  If you want to use our "sex" to sell products, listen up: As a full time working mother, let me tell you that there is nothing sexier than a man with a scrub brush cleaning my toilet or dancing his way around my kitchen with a mop! 

Start showing a little more gender equality in your advertising and consumers will notice.  But If you keep insulting my intelligence and parroting outdated, sexist roles to my children, I will definitely notice.  And I'll stop buying your products.  I'll stop shopping at your stores.  I'll put my money where my mouth is.

Will you join me?

Stephanie Himel-Nelson also rants and raves at her personal blog, Lawyer Mama.
This is an original D.C. Metro Moms Blog post.

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