by Diana Martinez
Because of my busy, chaotic life as a college student, I love to read Simple, a magazine aimed at the workingwoman, designed for making life more manageable. I love its tips for organization, money managing and whatnot.
One night, as I flipped through its pages, I realized that almost every single ad was either dedicated to beauty, diet and/or cleaning products. Now, I understand that a clean home and office results in a more organized life, but when it is one of only two stereotypical options given to readers, it gives a subliminal message that these are the only things women should be worrying about. It portrays the opposite image of what the articles emphasize- how to be independent by making your life more simple and easy. These types of ads have a better place in a magazine like Martha Stewart, because it’s aimed at creating a beautiful home. But Simple is aimed at a very progressive type of woman. It’s as if the ads are trying to counteract the main message of the publication. The ads are not aimed at making women’s lives more simple, but making their roles more simplified.
After this realization, I began to ask myself, “How many ads for cleaning products are in magazines geared toward men?” And why is it that women serve as the spokespeople to cleaning products? Are they the only people who can clean? Or are they the only people that society thinks should be cleaning? As I was watching Hulu.com one night, I did a double take when I saw a male spokesperson on a commercial for Pledge. After I rewound and watched again, I realized that although a man was selling the product, he did not partake in any of the cleaning. As he walked through his home, his wife cleaned a different surface for each room in the house. (Except of course, the car and the motorcycle–God forbid a woman clean such masculine objects!) In these shots, his son cleans the vehicles, and there’s one last shot of his teenage boy cleaning a tabletop. The message here seemed to be, “Sure boys can clean the house, but once you become a man, you can have your wife do it for you.” In the last shot of the ad, the spokesman catches a football that is thrown to him, as if to say, “Yes, he’s in the kitchen, but don’t worry, he’s still a man. Look how good he is at sports!”
But at least that commercial didn’t portray women as dirt on the floor, desperate for love, like in the recent Swiffer ad campaigns. Ugh. Times have changed since women have joined the workforce, but it has become clear to me that the media doesn’t want it that way. And, yes, I understand that ads are made to appeal to the group that is most likely to buy the product, but why are they assuming that only women clean?! I think that the advertising companies are missing some really great selling points. They could appeal to bachelors, college students, and even to kids who hate doing chores. Or they could at least show more images of these different groups of people cleaning. I have never enjoyed cleaning, and I don’t want the world to assume that just because I’m female, that chore is reserved for me. Besides, I’ve already got enough cleaning up to do in the media.