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“Dumb Broad” Ads? They’re Still With Us

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So what’s the solution? Zip our lips and refuse to engage with the lowlifes who joke about rape, commodify the female body, and portray women as morons? Much as I sometimes would like to, I don’t believe that’s the answer. Taking the high road can’t mean simply ignoring what’s going on in our culture. Sexism and misogyny have become joke-worthy subjects in such an insidious way that people are now failing to even identify them any more. Imagine if racist or anti-semitic ads were popping up online every other day and were defended by those calling protesters “oversensitive,” labeling any objections “political correctness gone mad’ and telling them to “get over it.” Would we be told just to turn a blind eye and not give such companies the oxygen of publicity? More likely, we’d be calling for the heads of the responsible marketing executives on a plate.

Humorless feminists?

Sexists’ favored method of shutting down feminists is to call them humorless, and accuse the men who support them of being emasculated and brainwashed. Well, it’s time to stand up and say that there’s nothing deficient about not having your laughter button pressed by the degradation of women. Anyone offended by misogyny needs to keep speaking out about it, even if it runs the risk of giving the perpetrator free advertising. Plus, there is such a thing as bad publicity—or Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t have shed 50+ advertising sponsors after recent online outrage at his misogyny. Reputations can certainly be tarnished, and refusing to keep quiet about sexist advertising can achieve that.

So don’t fall for the unhelpful advice to just ignore them and they’ll go away. That’s what misogynists want you to do. Just look at history—those who stood up to sexism achieved a lot more change than those who closed their eyes, put their hands over their ears, and sang “LA LA LA, I can’t hear you.”

This post first appeared on the website of the Women’s Media Center

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Photo from Samsung ad via the Women's Media Center

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106 comments

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6:33PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Yes those commercials are sexist and disgusting, but all you have to do is not buy their product. Buy a competing brand and send the label or packaging to the company.

But why is it no one seems troubled by the plethora of TV commercials where the man is a complete moron? My rule thumb is swap the characters, so the male replaces the female. If it's not overtly sexist then it's probably okay. But face it, folks, those ads have only one purpose and that's to sell a product. We can buy the stuff or buy someone else's. The power is in us.

6:07PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Ads are made to get our attention and have us remember them.If we find them insulting,we remember them,talk about them,spread the word about them.We DO exactly what the ads wanted us to do.Our only recourse is to not buy the product.Spread the word....quietly

3:44PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

when will they see women as PEOPLE? with brains, feelings, and (admittedly) good looks (all together!)

8:05PM PDT on May 25, 2012

There are plenty of men who aren't as smart as a lot of women. This ad is discusting!

8:46PM PDT on May 20, 2012

There are also a large number of ads that portray men as being too stupid and helpless to do the simplest thing without the help of their wives or girlfriends. I think a good barometer of whether an ad is offensive is switch the gender and/or race and see if it would be acceptable. If the answer is no, then drop the ad.

6:30PM PDT on May 20, 2012

I have noticed a shift back to the 'dumb blonde or the dumb broad' to advertise goods. What we need to do is let them know that this is unacceptable by boycotting their products until this changes.

5:01PM PDT on May 20, 2012

That's as bad as that commercial where a bunch of chicks think we need to talk about what goes on in the bathroom. It would suit me fine if they just showed their product and discussed why it's a good product without all the fluff.

11:43AM PDT on May 20, 2012

What advertisers know, and most others overlook, is that 50% of the populace is below average intelligence - yet they have jobs, the vote and disposable incomes - AND it is much easier to sell beer, junk food, and cleaning products to dumb people than it is to sell to smart, educated people, so pitch your ads at the low end of the intelligence spread.

Increasingly, ads also show guys as dumb, and their spouse as the smarter one; such obvious sucking up to women is only going to work if it is aimed at the less-intelligent woman who still has to run a household and look after her children, and the goof she married.

Marketers will always target the easy mark. Even when they say they are targetting the upscale, "smart" consumer, it's still a con, since the mark always thinks s/he is the smart one.

8:52PM PDT on May 19, 2012

As long as women have breasts ,there will never be equality------read that somewhere !!!!!!

6:19PM PDT on May 19, 2012

I get tired sometimes thinking about what I've tried to do (marched a little, written some, talked a lot) and how much I'd thought feminism as a human rights issue was progressing years ago, and how this stuff keeps happening. Surely there are other ways to sell stuff and be funny.

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