Misogyny Does Not Sell

by VIEW5 on February 24, 2017 - 4:48pm

Unilever is an Anglo-Dutch company based in the UK and the Netherlands. Among the many products Unilever produces, it is the advertising for their personal care product, Lynx Dry Antiperspirant Spray that has seen much backlash. Simply put, the ad is a terribly sexist representation of women today. The ad prominently features a woman half nude in a kitchen putting a turkey in the oven. This instantly conveys the cliché message that women “belong in the kitchen”. The extremely sexist message is conveyed that women are only capable of taking care of chores around the house and that this is their only responsibility. The message being conveyed is very dangerous to those who consume it. When men are exposed to this type of advertising it installs a sense of a superiority towards women. Men will be influenced into thinking that this is all women are good for, mere sex objects that are only there to cook, clean and pleasure men. This type of sexist and derogatory thinking is not only harmful to how women are being perceived but also begins to install ideas of sexual violence. This problem is addressed in Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s film Miss Representation. Jean Kilbourne of Wellesley Centers for Women states during the film; “Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person” (Siebel Newsom).

Looking at this from another point of view, women who consume these types of advertisements are also being exposed to dangerous material. The ad is telling women that this is something they should be striving for. That being a sexy woman preparing dinner and cleaning the house is all that they should aspire to be. Women of all ages face this type of adversity everywhere from school to the workplace, where they are constantly being undermined because of the thought that they are inferior to men. Unilever’s advertisement even further ingrained this idea into the mind of women, discouraging them from pushing themselves to break free of the stereotype. On top of it all, it promotes unrealistic beauty standards for women. The advertisement says “Can She Make You Lose Control”. This implies that it is only women like the girl depicted in the picture that men are attracted to. Girls see this and can become extremely self-conscious about the way they look which is already a growing issue.

What first jumps out at me is that the advertisement and the product have so little to do with each other. Lynx is trying to say that their antiperspirant spray is so effective and strong that not even such an “ideal” women such as the one depicted in the ad will make you “lose control” or sweat in this case. There are so many ways this product could have been advertised and there are few ways that this one can be slightly changed to make it not sexist without making drastic changes. I would personally remove the aspect of having a woman represent a men's product. My take on the add would feature a clothed man instead of the women doing the same thing. Showing that cooking does take time and effort and is physically exhausting. This is where Lynx antiperspirant spray can be a product that is shown to be tough on sweat stains, without degrading women. It is now a product that conveys the message it set out to do in the first place, which is this is an effective solution to sweating.

To conclude, advertisements such as these are a major issue in today’s world where we are constantly being bombarded with information and media. In the grand scheme of things these types of sexist advertisements can be deemed too insignificant to average consumers. But this ad among countless others portray a much bigger problem in society. It is up to consumers to properly identify and voice our concerns when we see advertisements or any other form of media such as this. “As (Martin Luther) King said, 'The problem today is not the vitriolic words and the evil actions of the bad people. It is the appalling inaction and silence of the good people.’” (Siebel Newsom). We need to let these companies know that what they do is not okay by any standards. The company's goal is to market and sell their product efficiently, society needs to let them know that sticking a sexy woman into any form of advertising is not only degrading and sexist but that misogyny does not sell.

Works Cited:

Miss Representation. Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 2014.