there is now a petition up at change.org regarding tui advertisements. please do go over and sign, if you're interested in this campaign.
it's interesting how there are so many people out there vested in persuading us that the ads are not sexist at all, but failing to explain why. that the advertisements are hardly complimentary to men does not mean they aren't sexist to women. it just means that they are all around bad news.
it seems that advertisers have a real problem in trying to appeal to a male audience. they appear to have a pretty limited imagination. men apparently only respond to:
- sexualised images of women. presenting women as just human beings apparently doesn't work. they think that having women factory workers who aren't sexualised, or women scientists who aren't sexualised, just won't sell products according to the keen brains in the advertising industry who think up these kinds of campaigns
- things that are anti-feminine. i'm certainly not the first to point out that the definition of masculine seems to focus around the opposite to things perceived as feminist. women talk alot, so men grunt. women like dainty, pretty things, so men must have things that are big, square, without adornment.
- the notion that women are nagging killjoys. so you see adds that drown out the noise of women talking, that show women as harridans or overemotional or harsh. women don't have fun, they stop fun. women are overly responsible, men avoid responsibility or commitment because these impinge on true freedom.
i recall a really good post at kiwipolitico a couple of years ago, which i'll quote again here:
But three things stand out about the depiction of ideal NZ men in these ads.
The third and perhaps most interesting aspect of the depiction is its representation of “manly” values. Men are mates; hard drinking, carousing, happy go lucky, staunch (especially when drinking), fast driving, opportunistic and impulsive horn dogs working hard on the ladies. Nowhere in the depiction are there notions of honour, valour, courage, sacrifice, sincerity, solidarity (except with mates), humility, basic intelligence and knowledge of current global affairs, or interest in the needs of women, children and the family. That is a bit odd simply because the early 20 to 35 male demographic is the one that is reproducing the most (presumably a manly trait), has young families, is starting careers and otherwise has the burdens of post-adolescence crashing down on it. Yet the values being reified appear adolescent.
is it wrong to want better from our advertising industry? to expect better and demand change? i don't think so. i think they're quite capable of doing much better. i think they know very well the ways in which they contribute to societal culture - they do, after all, aim to become a meme. an ad that's so well known it becomes part of the cultural knowledge of a society. like those toyota "bugger" ads, the anchor milk family, the goldstein guy, the "it's not ok" campaign, the claytons ad from way back. this is what the best advertising does, and this is what they're all aiming for.
there are plenty who will tell us that there is no point in complaining. or that we are humourless harridans who should sit back and just put up with any and all nonsense. and yet recent activism has shown otherwise. complaints about the libra ad meant that they pulled it and replaced it with the old one of the boyfriend playing star wars in front of the mirror (which i'm not a huge fan of, and again, not so complementary to the guy).
and it appears that the current campaign has at least resulted in the head of advertising for DB breweries being prepared to have a discussion with feminist action. this doesn't necessarily mean that great things will result, and all of a sudden tui will decide to depict both women and men as decent, intelligent human beings. but even if it leads to a small shift, it shows there is some point in pushing for cultural change, and that good things can happen as a result.
as with other bloggers here, i'd like to thank feminist action for their campaign, and especially acknowledge the personal abuse that their spokesperson leonie morris has had to put up with. thank you for being strong and for taking this on. wishing you all the best as you continue with the campaign.