There’s been a lot of fuss about the new “Got milk?” ads, which claim that milk eases PMS symptoms—thus making your wife or girlfriend slightly less of a crazy, irrational bitch every month. The work is intentionally provocative—some say irredeemably sexist. But to put that sexism in context, check out the 10 TV spots below—from the 1950s to today—which are all, to a greater or lesser degree, anti-woman (or anti-girl). A lot has changed in 50 years—the Folgers spot seems like something from an alternate universe today. Yet there’s been a seesaw effect, too. As advertising has become less blatantly sexist, more ads than ever are being called sexist. So, where’s the line? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Let’s start off mild. This Allstate “Mayhem” spot is more anti-youth than anti-girl, but it certainly paints a bleak picture of your average female teenager. She’s vicious, boy-obsessed, “emotionally compromised,” and flat-out hell on wheels.
Dodge’s pro-male manifesto, which aired during the 2010 Super Bowl, came off as almost completely anti-female. In a world full of horrible nagging women and their endless demands, Dodge is “man’s last stand.”
The core message of Axe’s marketing worldwide is that women are unthinking animals who can’t resist the scent of an alpha male (cosmetically engineered though he may be). The epic “Billions” spot, featuring wild packs of women in bikinis, just supersized the insult—suggesting it’s true of every woman alive.
This ridiculously insulting South African commercial presents a fantastically stupid woman who can’t find the french fries on her plate—because they’re obscured by her enormous breasts. The ad was pulled after complaints.
6 Bud Light
How can a woman make her marriage work? By doing all the chores, leaving her husband free to hang out with his friends, and frequently surprising him with cases of Bud Light. Something to think about on your wedding day.
5 Hasbro’s Rose Petal Cottage
It’s best to teach girls early on that their proper place is in the kitchen—that is, when they’re not in the laundry room. Thanks, Hasbro’s Rose Petal Cottage!
This idiotic Mercedes commercial is literally an ancient blonde joke brought to life.
The final three ads, beginning with this Folgers spot, are from a different era—a time when sexism was so ingrained as to be unremarkable. In Folgers’ world, all women had to do was make coffee for their husbands—and they were usually shitty at that.
2 National Airlines
In the early ’70s, National Airlines (later merged into Pan Am) launched its “Fly Me” campaign, in which the aircraft were given female names and the flight attendants starred in the advertising. See, you didn’t just ride on the airplane; you got to ride the stewardess as well.
It’s good to have quality tires on your car. But when your wife is behind the wheel? God, it’s a necessity. Just look at the way she drives—all confused and overwhelmed and driving into potholes. What a useless and stupid woman!