It’s a primal thing

May.09, 2010, filed under Planet Sam, Rant

avatarReally, Mattessons? Is it really?

If by “primal” you mean “pandering to sexist stereotypes” then by gods then I think I might just agree with you.

Let’s just take a look at this homage to the Hanna Barbera caveman era, shall we?

What we have is an advert that starts with a man who has a tupperware lunchbox that is empty apart from an apple. Evidently angered by the lack of man-food, he beats upon said box to demonstrate that he desires to be fed. Rather than, for instance, asking his partner if there is anything else to eat or, gods forbid, actually going and getting something for himself.

We cut to a young woman who has either only just noticed she is hungry or is experiencing period pain. It’s hard to tell from her expression. Either way, she too has lost the power of speech and registers her discontent with the state of her belly by slapping it around a bit.

A pair of male hands thumps a shiny green metal table. Splice in shots of several women coming to attention like meerkats seeing an eagle. The shiny green table turns out to be a car, and the hands to belong to a man engaged in that most manly of pursuits: working on the car. Surrounded by sparks and shit, just in case you needed further explanation that being a man is important, hard, dangerous work that only men can do.

A woman trots past, pushing a shopping trolley, looking for something and in a hurry to find it because a man is hungry, is far too busy being a man to find something to eat himself, and it’s her duty as a woman to appease his hunger. She is watched in bafflement by the only character in this advert who shows any sign of having a foot in the real world: the shop assistant. He’s presumably more used to seeing people shopping in their pyjamas, not dressed up like a model for the latest range at Marks & Sparks.

We see teenage girl again. She’s still beating her own abdomen, only now there’s something a bit scary about her expression. Determined. Perhaps she has decided that self-abuse is the only appropriate response to hunger, in case eating makes her fat and thus no longer conventionally beautiful. Because that, obviously, would be a disaster.

Cut to children. Children! Children who have been taught that the correct way to request food is to roar and beat their chests like an enraged silverback. That will stand them in good stead when they reach the age of taking a prospective partner to a restaurant to woo him or her. Rather than picking an item from the menu they will smack themselves and throw a tantrum until someone puts some food in front of them. Charming.

Finally the sausages are acquired. The drums pause, a moment of relief, followed by several shots of food magically appearing in front of the hungry. The women who were responsible for preparing it have been reduced to a single hand, or a sliver of cloth. After all, their only importance is in the fetching of the food. Once food has been acquired they are no longer worthy of attention.

Look at him. The lazy bastard.Note, if you will, that there is not a single man hunting the refrigerated section of the supermarket for cheap processed pork products. No. What we have are some women who, despite doing nothing more than taking a trip down to the shop, have taken the time to apply cosmetics and carefully coif their hair so they will conform suitably to accepted beauty conventions while in a situation where other people might see them.

We have men, doing man-things, and teaching their children that the correct way to express a wish to be fed is not, for instance, asking whoever is the chef of the day what might possibly be for dinner and is there anything they can do to help, but instead to act like an enraged toddler who wants a sweetie. We see that the correct response from the busy woman who not only has a house to run but has her own career (nobody dresses like that for doing the housework) is not to tell them to bloody well get it themselves but to leap up immediately and go all the way to the supermarket for sausages. We learn that a man does not consider an apple to be proper food: only heavily-salted, fatty, processed meat products are satisfactory.

I find it hard to stomach that in the 21st century we are seeing adverts that demonstrate such blatant sexism. The gender stereotyping on display is offensive to both sexes. Anyone who doubts that sexism is an ongoing problem should take a long, hard look at the way men and women are portrayed in the media, particularly in the flash-shorts of commercial advertising.

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