Posted by: nallen123 | October 15, 2012

Superiority Complex: Is a gender neutral media within reach?

Like Chrissy, I was struck by the reality that the prominent worldview in mainstream media is filtered through a male lens. While researching examples to illustrate how the codes and conventions of a culture can change over time, I looked to advertisements from yesteryear. What I found was shocking. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that surprising.

It is common knowledge that male superiority ran rampant in America for the greater part of the last century, but for those of us who didn’t live through that era, or for those who have perhaps forgotten what those times were like, it can be difficult to fully appreciate what it all meant. Glimpsing old advertisements provides a powerful blast from the past depicting just how far our culture has, and in some cases, hasn’t, come.

Here are a few of my favorite ads …

“After one look at his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her.”


“Blinders …. because she shies at new ideas.” At least Electrolux was keyed into the concept that the radically new is often unsettling at first. Too bad they couldn’t find an unoffensive way to illustrate that point.

This one is for the nature lovers. Drummond Sweaters reminds us that “men are better than women! Indoors, women are useful — even pleasant. On a mountain they are something of a drag. So don’t go hauling them up a cliff.”

And, just in case we think blatant sexism is behind us, here’s one from last summer.

QUESTION: Is it realistic to think that mainstream media will ever have a truly gender neutral voice? How will codes and conventions need to change to bring that reality within reach?

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