I was at the cinema last night to watch Joueuse (Queen to Play) as part of the French Film Festival in Melbourne. As with every other cinema experience, we were treated to a range of ads for products and services before the film began. Tefal featured strongly as the sponsor of the festival, and then the last ad (well the last ad I paid attention to) came up.
Unfortunately the ad is not available online, so I’ll just have to summarise what happened here:
- Man A is sitting in a pub with Man B. Man A talks about his shed extension and the problems he faced.
- Man A describes his female partner objecting to the shed extension and the scene changes to her complaining that to extend his shed he’ll have to cut this tree down, and “what about the birds”
- Man B asks what Man A did to solve this problem
- Man A states, “Roses only” and the scene cuts to his female partner looking adoringly at a dozen roses and Man A outside starting a chain saw.
I was staggered at the amazing sexism in this ad:
- Firstly only women care about the environment, and if you care about the environment, then you’re a woman;
- The best way to get what you want is to buy into gender tropes and buy your female partner a nice shiny thing to distract her from her worries or to change her principles;
- Women will easily change their principles for expensive gifts; and
- Buying an expensive gift now will absolve you from all future issues relating to the same topic.
Now imagine if the ad was switched around, sticking to gender tropes:
- Woman A is in a cafe talking to Woman B about her recent kitchen extension and the problems she faced
- Woman A describes her male partner objecting to the kitchen extension and the scene changes to him complaining that to extend the kitchen his shed will be demolished and what will he do?
- Woman B asks what Woman A did to solve this problem
- Woman A states, “I bought him a slab/DVD of the footy/tickets to a sporting event/a drill” and the scene cuts to her male partner looking at said item adoringly while his shed is ripped down.
Or of course we could remove gender entirely from this annoying trope and just use people:
- Person A is dining with Person B explaining about the resort they’ve just built and the issues they faced
- Person A describes how Person C complained about the development because of the site of the development impacted on a site of significance/religious importance/their own dwelling
- Person B asks what they did to solve this problem
- Person A states that they gave Person C some beads/shiny thing/grog/small sum of money and the scene cuts to Person C looking at said item adoringly while having their site of significance/religious importance/their own dwelling destroyed.
Cheerful isn’t it? So Roses Only, how about:
- Not being sexist;
- Not playing into gender tropes about what women will do and what principles they’ll compromise for an expensive gift;
- Not being so heterosexual focused; and
- Never advertise again?
If only it was so easy.