A recent survey by the Daily Telegraph revealed that the term ‘house wife’ carries “negative connotations” so it’s with great surprise that one company has chosen to so perfectly embody this gender stereotype for millions of viewers to see. Although you might think that society’s views are changing, that the pay gap between men and women is evening, and standards are equalising between the sexes, one thing is even clearer.
Television is not keeping up with the times. In the Kingsmill 50 50 advert, aired across many stations today, we are told to “love bread [and to] love kingsmill”. And yet the latter brand is sadly (and explicitly) retrospective in its outlook of current family roles. Don’t get me wrong – bread is bread, and for sure, we can “love bread” all we like. But are we supposed to like the impossibly twee and downright sexist portrait of mother ironing, father bread winning, and children sitting down (impeccably dressed for an early morning) at the breakfast table?
Okay; it happens. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is undeniably commonplace today, that some families follow this set-up, archaically traditional it may seem. And it might well work! But what about the progress we are hearing about? What about the emphasis on both parents to be individuals and work if they want to – regardless of their sex? What about encouraging women to bread win just as well as their husband? Don’t advertisements have a duty to address newer notions of family roles?
To be honest, it is with little wonder the mother was resentful and stained his shirt with an iron mark as he ate her buttered bread.
And articles like McCartney’s These Days, We All Need A Housewife To Hand in newspapers manage to undo any progress of changing stereotyped mother-father roles in our society. Her view that we all “need a housewife” in the home was nicely summed up by a reader in the comments section: “I think some of you are looking for a domestic servant”.
This housewife malarkey is getting out of control.
Surely, marketing should sell us the product without the clichés – however impossibly and inevitably interlinked they may seem. Making use of interchangeable parent roles in a family advertisement helps to address this imbalance. Let’s go crazy. How about the father helping with domestic duties before work, and the mother discussing business with her husband? Or, to really cause controversy (what a sad state of affairs), what would we say to the father ironing, and the mother going to work? Are our perceptions of family life really so backwards, in a forward looking society, or are the adverts just tacitly presenting us with constant false realities?
One thing’s for sure: I might be loving bread. But I certainly won’t love Kingsmill for a very long time yet. Have you watched the ad?