A self-fulfilling state

I watch a lot of television (really? whyever for? Well…) and therefore spend as much time as possible trying to avoid watching ads.

I’m not some sort of moron who thinks ads are pure evil (well I’m not too keen on children’s ads but that’s a whole other blog post) and I like to hear about new products and services. I think some ads are genuinely clever and entertaining. I think other ads are pure lazy and boring. Many ads are for products that I will never engage with, some are for products that may have been of interest or will be of interest in a particular period of my life.

But advertising execs of the world I am putting you on your first warning. Well apart from all the unheard shouting in my living room. I will no longer accept your made up nonsense about women and men and which of them does the shopping. I don’t care if that’s what the stats say; this doesn’t mean that it’s right. I challenge you to surprise me with an ad that tries to guilt men into buying products with dubious health benefits for their children. Y’see I just don’t think you will do it.

Two men in kitchen amazingI also think it’s dubious and downright offensive to run ads that imply that only women are intelligent enough or organised enough to run a household. If running a household requires that much intelligence (and i think it does require mental, physical and emotional resources not required by some other jobs) why is it so poorly rewarded in western society? You don’t meet many millionaire nannies.* I would buy the product of any manufacturer who convinced a government to also recognise that contribution to society by properly rewarding anyone who takes on these tasks. Work life balance needs a champion. It needs highlighting the way Jamie Oliver highlighted good food in Britain. Should we expect advertisers to spot this trend and act on it? Especially in a recession?

I just worry that using these lazy cultural shortcuts (women are put upon; men are stupid & lazy) that they will become self-fulfilling. People say to me and I hear myself saying how lucky I am to have a husband who pitches in. Every time I hear myself saying it I mentally kick myself. How insulting to both of us. In fact I sometimes think, as he puts on another load of washing, how unlucky he is to be lumped with me!

As I grow older I realise more and more as I see my friends hitching up in all manner of unexpected combinations that it is practically impossible to understand what makes couples tick. They will be as we say in Irish “thuas seal, thíos seal” and stereotypes and assumptions about roles in society just box us all in and remove opportunities.

*As a total aside I wonder are any of the creches built in the boom on government money now in NAMA?

3 Replies to “A self-fulfilling state”

  1. I agree with you about the very discriminatory stereotyping in many ads. My particular bug bear is the advertising of over the counter remedies. Men are always the sufferer and women the ministering angel. Can a man not open a packet of aspirin or pour a glass of water for goodness sake? The man flu phenomenon is alive and well in adland.

    Re the man/woman division of domestic tasks – I could screan when my other half says I emptied the dishwasher for you. Oh right you did not use any dishes? We all know that housekeeping will never be valued until men are actually responsible for the management of homes. I could go on but I have to get my husband’s lunch!

  2. “Work life balance needs a champion”. As someone who just finished up at my fabulous job today in order to try and strike a more manageable one, I couldn’t agree more.

    And, like you, I’m heartily sick of the way advertising infantilises (and undresses) us all, and I also worry that these self-fulfilling prophecies becoming real. My husband is extremely hands on, but – like you – it winds me up when people tell me how lucky I am. He’s lucky to have two great kids he wants to spend time with, and lucky to have a wife who isn’t content to spend ALL her time starching his shirts.

    The thing is, I don’t think it’ll become real, because I believe society is streets ahead of advertising in this respect.

    Please keep me posted on your plans, lady!

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