Lindsay Kriz: Commercials continue to perpetuate stereotypes, stale ideas

Lindsay Kriz

We can all agree that television has a large impact on the lives of those who watch it. We may watch vulgar TV shows that teach us better insults (me), we may watch coverage of a trial and make up our minds based on what Nancy Grace tells us (me) and we may watch shows like CSI and assume that cases are always closed beautifully (was me). 

But there are those times when I don’t buy so easily in to television. In particular, I don’t buy into the sexist commercials that still plague our televisions every day. 

Don’t believe me? Just let me give you a few examples.

I first started to notice the “let’s stay in the 1950s” trend of commercials when I watched commercials for laundry detergents. In so many of these commercials it was a woman who was scurrying to fold the clothes or to put in the detergent. I remember thinking, “God, don’t they know that men can do that too? How about equal representation here?” But I sort of let it slide because it just wasn’t on my radar.

Then I started to watch dishwashing commercials, which featured a vast array of typical women debating the cleanliness and “sparkliness” of their dishes. That started to irk me a bit more. 

It wasn’t until the commercials for “home-cooked meals” that I really started to notice the trend. These commercials would always feature a woman with a tireless smile on her face as she served her husband and 2.5 kids a wonderful home-cooked meal. I would watch energy drink commercials where a woman would say “I’m too tired…but I know that I want dinner cooked by the time my husband gets home.”

This wasn’t just one or two commercials. This was most of them. Instead of moving into the future, where many women choose to be equal opportunity employers and men can just as easily perform the tasks of laundry and simple cooking. Somehow, the creators of these commercials still believed we were in the 1950s. 

Diet commercials do nothing to help equal opportunists either. Instead of encouraging both sexes to lose weight equally, most commercials that feature low calorie snacks or yogurt have a woman character or narrator. Commercials that do encourage men to lose weight are always manly, with images of men flipping burgers and watching football and still performing manly duties while dieting. Dieting in itself is apparently too girly, and apparently there’s nothing worse in our society than being a girl. 

To conclude, I have seen a few commercials that attempt to equally exploit both parties regarding marital duties and diets. But until I stop seeing Wendy’s commercials that encourage women to purchase blueberry salads and men to sit on the couch and eat fattening Baconators to their heart’s content or seeing only women sharing their domestic woes to the camera, it just won’t be enough.