“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now. You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt (I told you not to hold back!), skank. Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy. I’ve even heard the term “mangina.” Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally f*cked up.” ― Jessica Valenti, Full Frontal Feminism We have seen the uses of sexism in the media increase over the past several decades. And even in our developed age of today, we are still constantly being bombarded by these sexist strategies in advertising. Recently, I have found a post on Tumblr about Volkswagen’s sexist ad placed in both men’s and women’s bathroom mirror to promote its new Passat. But rather than to stick with the same content for both bathrooms, the company decided to make their ads gender-specific, and eventually supported sexism in a very insidious way.
For the men’s bathroom, it states “If you look like a million bucks in the mirror, imagine what you’d look like in one of these.” However, in the women’s bathroom, there is a subtle difference:
The ad in the women’s bathroom states: “Even if you’re having a bad hair day, you can still look like a million bucks.” See the difference? While both ads are trying to sell the same idea, the one in the male’s bathroom clearly reassures men that they already look like a million bucks, but they would look EVEN BETTER with the car. However in the women’s bathroom, the ad plays with their insecurities and then tells them to fix it by getting the car. The sneakiest part of this is that it was only noticeable when both genders documented it. Ads like these are constantly promoting the idea that women should feel insecure, and in order to improve themselves, they will have to get the product they’re selling. And this is not the first time Volkswagen has created a sexist advertisement like that, below is an old print ad by the company from 1964:
The ad states “Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things. If your wife hits something in a Volkswagen, it doesn’t hurt you very much…” Although this ad was created in a time where sexism had not yet been discussed or focused on, it still doesn’t seem like the company had done much justice for women over the years. Besides Volkswagen, there are countless sexist ads around the world that objectify women. Below are just some of the examples:
1. Print ads from the 1950s