femmanism

My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

Every Commercial Having to do With Housework

I don’t have cable, so I don’t watch that many commercials.  There are usually 1 or 2 commercials that I see when watching shows online, but that’s about it.  So when I go to my parents’ place, or a friend’s house and there is TV on, the commercials completely overwhelm me with their ridiculous gender stereotyping.  Specifically, every commercial having to do with housework. 

Swiffer commercials,

Mr. Clean commercials,

Windex commercials,

Scrubbing Bubbles commercials,

…I think you get the idea.  If the commercial has to do with cleaning inside the home, it features a woman doing the cleaning.  A man can narrate, or the be one telling her how to clean, a la Mr. Clean, but a man will never be the one actually doing the cleaning. 

If you start to think that we’ve achieved equality, and there is no longer “women’s work” and “men’s work,” just watch a couple of these commercials.  Yes, women have joined the workforce and theoretically are entitled to the same amount of money and the same jobs as men, but men have not joined the house-workforce in equal numbers.  So really, women just have double the amount of work.

And I realize that these commercials are trying to reflect reality, and the unfortunate reality is that women are doing these jobs more than men, but if we want things to change, we have to start with media.  In order to get men more involved in housework and women more able to expect help around the house, we have to change cultural values and ideals.  How do we do that?  With media.  If all cleaning product commercials showed men doing the cleaning, then maybe men would be more likely to consider the fact that they could actually clean. 

That would actually be super cool.  We should start a campaign and get all these companies that I just mentioned to only show men in their ads for a month or something.  They could show the exact same commercials, but with men instead of women.  Can you imagine?  It would look really strange, and maybe then people would realize how fucked it is that seeing a man clean something looks odd.

(Sometimes being an optimist is a big tease.)

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An Open Letter to The Stampede Ranch in Guelph

So, I just found out today that my favourite country bar is holding a bikini contest tonight.  The winner gets $1000 and skin cancer… I mean, free tanning for a year.  Needless to say, I was not impressed.  So I wrote them an email, which I thought I would post here as well.  This is not really what I usually post on, but I think brothels*, er… bars’ advertising counts as media that I can critique. 

Hello,

I just wanted to let you know how excited I have been about seeing Kerosene Creek this weekend.  I love them, and I love the Ranch.  Or, I did until I heard about the bikini contest.  I have no doubt that it’s great for business, but I wanted to let you know that you will no longer be getting any of my business, or any of my friends’ business as long as you are holding these contests.  And I’m sure that the hundreds or thousands of dollars you would be making off of us is not a big concern when compared with the profits that will be made tonight at the bikini contest.

I would ask you to consider the moral implications of this contest however.  (And yes, I have heard that I should ‘lighten up and get a sense of humour.’  Ironically, I was planning to do that at the Ranch tomorrow night.)  Objectifying women like this – or providing a very good reason for them to objectify themselves, i.e. a $1000 prize – contributes to a culture where women are raped and sexually assaulted daily. 

As a woman, what this contest says to me is that the Ranch does not value me as a human at all, but that you will happily make money off of the exploitation of my body.  It says that the Ranch is a place where women are expected to conform to male, heterosexual desires, where women are objects to be looked at and enjoyed by these male consumers, and where women who are not up to par in terms of the physical appearance of their bodies are not welcome.  I would feel extremely unsafe in a place like this.

 I have already felt unsafe at the Ranch when a man yelled names at me when I refused to give him my number, after repeatedly touching me places that he knew I did not want to be touched.  I do not blame the Ranch for this at all.  Actually, it is an unfortunate reality that as a woman, going out often means risking unwanted sexual attention (the definition of sexual harassment), and being verbally abused if you do not go along with it. 

So, I’m sure you can understand why, as a woman, I feel like encouraging men to further objectify women and see them as there for men’s entertainment and sexual pleasure would make me feel extremely unsafe and unwelcome.

Then there is the issue of how close this comes to prostitution / pimping, since you are making money from women’s bodies.  And yes, I know this is the women’s choice, but we all know that a lot of students and young people in general go to the Ranch, and that a lot of students and young people could really use $1000 (who couldn’t?). But again, I really urge you to consider how comfortable you are with essentially pimping these young women, taking advantage of their need for money and their need for male approval, and their knowledge that women’s power (i.e. money) comes directly from their bodies. 

Please consider the messages you are giving your female patrons and the extremely dangerous culture (of rape, sexual assault, physical and verbal violence towards women, misogyny in general, etc) you are contributing to by holding these bikini contests.  I love the Ranch, and I would love to come back if and when these bikini contests are no longer happening there.  (And I am actually much more fun when I’m out than I may appear to be in this email.  I don’t just go around feminist-ing to all the other people in the bar.)

Thanks a lot for considering what I have to say,

-Emma

And, the response I received:

“Sorry to hear, but you missed a great night.  People had lots of fun and nobody was raped or sexually abused!  I like picture of your halloween costume on facebook.  You could have been in the contest with an outfit like that!
Have a great weekend”

Sigh.  No comment necessary on that one I would say.

 

UPDATE:

To their email, I replied:

“Is there any way I could get your (or whoever answered my last email’s) full name and position?  I would really like to continue this conversation.

Thanks again.”

 

And here is their response:

“To respond to your accusations:

You are wrong to think that this contest is for men’s pleasures only as many women have asked us when the next bikini contest is going to be held, and they certainly enjoy themselves during it.  You are also wrong to assume that we have never considered the moral implications of this contest. We have, we just happen to disagree with your opinion.

As for your accusations that this contest is close to prostitution, pimping and running a brothel, are you being serious?  I fail to see the connection as people sign up because they want to enter the contest for whatever reason they have. Some of them sign up because they are proud of their bodies and want to show them off, some do it for fun, and some do it for the chance to win money. Regardless, it’s their choice.

Yes, many of our contestants are students but we happen to believe that they (and our customers as a whole) are intelligent, respectable and responsible adults who are more than capable of making the choice to do what they want to with their own bodies. It’s their choice. For you to imply that they are prostitutes and strippers is the degrading part. As is implying that we are running a brothel and that we are their “asshole pimp.”  To quote you…”I do not have anything against prostitutes or brothels. I am super excited about the laws changing in Ontario. I just think we should be honest about it, and the women should be okay with thinking of themselves as prostitutes or strippers before they agree to things like this. And that they should be okay with the fact that only one of them will make money, and the rest of their profits will go to the bar, aka their asshole pimp.”

You are the one who is shaming them. We resent your implication that they are not intelligent, as well as you saying that we do not value our customers as human beings. This is completely false.

As for your accusation that we searched you out on facebook, let me remind you that it was you who requested the Stampede Ranch to be your friend. It was also you who has chosen to slander us all over facebook as well as other social media sites. And it is also you who has chosen to repeatedly email us, phone us, and contact one of our bands. Believe me we didn’t go looking for you. As for the picture of you that you have posted on facebook, I have no issues with it and I most certainly am not “slut-shaming” you. You are free to wear whatever you choose because it is your body.

Regarding the incident at our bar, we are sorry that you had to experience that. However, if the situation was as bad as you claim why didn’t you contact security or the manager on duty that night?  We take pride in making efforts to keep our patrons safe and we would have dealt with your situation with the integrity and professionalism you assert is imperative and required.         

As for not giving you my name:  I’ve noticed you slandering us on many websites and using our logo, which is illegal, to get your message out.  According to The Canadian Bar Association, your actions fall under cyberbullying, harassment and defamation. I’m only beginning to realize what type of person I’m dealing with, so for the safety of myself and my family you won’t get that information.  Who knows what a person like you might do?  You sound like a very unhappy, bitter individual.  If you feel so unsafe in bars, which is your right, maybe do your socializing elsewhere.  I will not respond to another email as I’ve spent enough time on this matter and be advised that you are no longer welcome to enter the Stampede Ranch. We consider this matter closed and if you continue to harass us we will have no choice but to contact our lawyer.”

 

I wasn’t going to post anything about this (because apparently sharing my experience with a company is illegal…) but I thought it was important to share.  I will not comment on this (again, because apparently I could be sued for commenting, and also because I have decided to also ‘consider this matter closed’ and not spend any more energy / emotion on it), except to say that the harassing I was doing included one phone call to the Ranch to ask if I could speak with the owner (who wasn’t in), and an email to the owner that I sent on a weird, sketchy website that said “Email the Stampede Ranch’s owner here!”  I still don’t know if that email went through or not, but I assumed it didn’t at the time.

So, there is it.  Hopefully there is no more drama, and I don’t have to post anything more about it.

 

 

*I do not have anything against prostitutes or brothels.  I am super excited about the laws changing in Ontario.  I just think we should be honest about it, and the women should be okay with thinking of themselves as prostitutes or strippers before they agree to things like this.  And that they should be okay with the fact that only one of them will make money, and the rest of their profits will go to the bar, aka their asshole pimp.

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Women Who CAN’T Say No

If one were to ever go to a website used to illegally download anything (which of course, I would never do), one would be overwhelmed by ads all over the screen selling women.  The top of the screen, the side, the bottom, a separate pop-up, all trying to get me to cheat on my wife, find a fuck buddy in Guelph, join a “dating” site, or at least download some porn, I suppose.  It’s so much that I think most people barely even notice it anymore – at least I don’t.  I have taken for granted that if I am going to download anything – it could be an R rated movie or it could be the Lion King – I will see these pornographic ads.  How fucked up is that?  Really.

But then I started to think about what these ads are actually doing, which is never a good idea.  Prostitution is illegal in North America, but we see women being sold all the time.  These ads are, very literally, selling women’s bodies.  ‘Click here’ to sign up, pay money, and see more of this woman’s body.  Pay money, see her body. 

More upsetting to me about this particular ad, is that it is admitting that the women can’t say no.  Is this supposed to be a turn on?  I guess it’s supposed to imply that she can’t be satisfied (which should maybe make these men wonder what it is about the way they fuck women that is so unsatisfying… but I suppose that’s another issue), or that she is just horny constantly, which is where the appeal is I guess.  But the way it has been worded, “Women who can’t say no” is really problematic.  You are paying for her, so ya, of course she actually can’t say no.  You have bought the right to her body, so she doesn’t have the right to say no.  She doesn’t have the ability to refuse you.*  Also, in a more general sense, stop making women’s inability to say “no” attractive please!  Our ability to say no and have it be respected is kind of a huge deal!  Maybe next time just say “Women who won’t say no” or, “Women who are never satisfied” or, better yet, maybe stop exploiting women?  I know… what a ridiculous suggestion.  Sigh.

Also, this is almost too obvious to mention, but this woman’s body is really weird.  Not her real body of course, her Photoshopped body.  The one that is supposed to be super sexual and attractive.  It looks like something I could have made playing with the Gooify feature on Picnik.com…  Her waist is way too small to support her huge boobs, which are almost bigger than her head.  She looks like she would definitely fold over at the waist from the weight of her head and boobs.  So, while I’m making ridiculous suggestions, maybe people could start reminding men and women that women who look human can be attractive too? 

*This may be an ignorant representation of the lives of sex workers.   I know very little about that industry, and I would love to find a documentary about sex work and sex workers in Canada or the States if anyone knows of one.

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