The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Sexism Is Alive And Well …
February 25, 2008, 7:42 am
Filed under: Comment

As seen in the inflight magazine of a Thai airline …



With this sort of attitude, I’m surprised they don’t offer kitchen appliances amongst the perfumes section given that’s what they obviously think women are all about.

Yes I’m being harsh – and sadly there is still alot of ‘traditional gender role’ attitudes in Asia – but I am sick to death of brands/companies falling into mass cliché territory to separate their male/female customer base.

A while back I was asked by a magazine what I thought about female skewed advertising [ie: products that are ‘unisex’ but in communication are being targeted towards female customers] and I said I was appalled how many brands talk to women in superficial terms like “This computer is made for you because it now comes in pink” – and you know what, a load of agencies gave me shit for that.


OK … so there’s some women out there who don’t care what they buy/use as long as it matches their fucking nail polish [like there’s men out there who don’t care as long as it has tits in the ad] but to treat the masses in such a way is incredibly insulting – not to mention ignorant.

What’s even worse is this mass prejudice communication has the potential to start influencing how women act – educating them that the only things that are important are material possessions, pretty colours and selflessly working for your family. 

Of course there’s nothing wrong with that – but the potential loss of identify, passion and opinion is enough to set the female gender back 100 years – or in Asia’s case – 30!

Spice Girls Return

For Huh’s benefit, I should point out I am generalising … I know there are a lot of very independent, smart, beautiful women throughout Asia – however it cannot be denied ‘gender roles/expectations’ are alive and well in the region and this is leading to all sorts of inner and outer conflict/turmoil as women battle to find their own identity whilst staying true to the fundamental Asian value system.

Where are the brands that treat women [and men for that matter] with respect and honour?-

The ones that don’t fall into clichéd anti-men/anti-women territory, but communicate in interesting, relevant and engaging terms?

Sure there are some brands that do that – but to me, there seems a whole lot more who trade in the evil that is lowest common denominator thinking.

Whose to blame?

Well lots of people to be honest.

From the Governments who don’t take on the issue with any great gusto … to the media who present this way of living/thinking as ‘normal’ … to the clients and agencies who continue to force this rubbish down our throats … to the consumers who [too often] blindly accept it … to the research companies who happily ‘validate’ it all because they are seemingly becoming more concerned with keeping their clients happy [to maintain their contracts] than doing what is right and looking deeper – however as I’m going into areas that are better saved for another day, I’ll leave it there – besides my dinner should be on the table and I won’t want it to get cold! 🙂

41 Comments so far
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Hello Robert, this is my first comment here but I am quite the fan even though I sometimes feel it is “the other woman” in my relationship with Pete.
It might be a bit extreme taking this post from a childs top to the general attitudes towards sexism in advertising but it is a good one.
I am fed up of ads that either pitch the genders against eachother, humiliate one for the benefit of the other or talk about couples/family in the sort of patronizing tone of the 1820’s.
This isn’t about women’s rights (though it seems Asia still hasn’t developed as much as it should/could since Pete and I lived there) it’s how peoples individual and relationship value is being undermined by corporations who want to sell us another thing we don’t need or want.
I sound like a militant lesbian but I’m not (militant or a lesbian) I’m just grateful you have written this post and accepted that your industry has the power to change stereotypes rather than ram them down our throats because for some people/countries, this behaviour acts more as a social statement than an advertisement.
I hope a brand takes this on issue as someone has taken on your vulgar display of wealth. Maybe it could be the same organisation but keep being the people champion Robert because there’s too much lazy planning and advertising out there.
See you soon, love to you and Jill.

Comment by Sarah Granger

Well I am a miltant lesbian and I agree with you.

Comment by John

i just had a meeting with 3 women in a government marketing department, 2 of whom fucking deserve to have condescending advertising pitched at their tits and their shallow pink-prada-handbag sensibilities.


this is a fucking fantastic post rob, one which restores my faith in people who give a fuck.

Comment by lauren

Well mate talking of stereotypes… I must say since you found the ad in a THAI Airline magazine it may not be as gender biased as you think…

I am not too sure what the pic of Spice Girls is meant to signify there, but my take is that they are a living example of the fact that the impact of mass communication in turning women into pink obsessed consumers isn’t a ‘Potential’ it’s a fact…witness Posh Spice and of course not to mention the continued success of your favourite toy – Barbie.

Comment by Hari

First: Hello Sarah – lovely to have you come here and rant, far better than your other half’s sycophantic rubbish 🙂

Now Hari …

OK, that’s a fair point – but when the Spice Girls first started they were the embodiment of a brand that inspired without always …

[1] Falling into lowest common denominator territories


[2] Gender based attacking

… plus at the time that they came out, there was great ‘specific gender role’ attitudes going on in the World, so to a large extent the Spice Girls acted as a gender liberator, especially for the young who were being ‘groomed’ for underfulfilling their potential in a male dominated World.

OK, that’s a bit extremist but I genuinely believe they were one of the most successful, powerful and influential brands of the last 10 years – and it’s a shame their reunion seemed to embody some of the stereotypes that they fought so hard against at their inception.

And as for Barbie – I think she is far less dangerous to young girls attitudes and aspirations than Paris Hilton – at least she is a character who doesn’t rely on others for glory, approval and self validation.

Holy fuck, I’m talking about Barbie like a real person – WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME!

Comment by Rob

you think i cant tell this is some ploy to look good to the ladies? it wont work though, the state of your face counteracts any positive impression a comment like this would make on them.
off for “cup of cino” darlink.

Comment by andy@cynic

Send my commiserations to Mary for having to get up and get you online mate.

And you’re in Italy – not Russia – so stop saying “darlink” or our Prada friends may see through the thin layer of cultural sophistication that you’ve somehow created for yourself thanks to a good suit, italian weather and a too-good-for-you wife.

Comment by Rob

talking of too good for you, hows jill?

Comment by andy@cynic

She’s great – still listening to Mary complain that you’re vastly overrated – but good 🙂

Comment by Rob

I disagree with everything in this post and all of the comments (except for Andy’s – of course) because I have a cold and I’m obviously dying.

It’s what women call MAN-FLU. How fucking sexist is THAT!


Comment by Marcus

Thank you Marcus – for a moment I was afraid I’d got this issue back on track 🙂

Comment by Robert

On a similar note, I cannot stand women who get t-shirts and tatoos with the playboy bunny logo. It says a lot about their goals in life, and sadly, a lot more about the media that influences them.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Lets hope for your sake Lauren isn’t one of those women Mr M.

I think you’ll be safe though, ha!

Comment by Robert

Are you implying she’s more of a Hustler gal?

Comment by John

It’s been nice knowing you.

Comment by John

I’m not implying a thing Mr Dodd’s … besides, maybe Lauren does have them to make [1] an ironic statement or [2] tackle mens pre-conceived perceptions about women head on.

In other words are you being sexist assuming she might not have them?

Does that save me? Probably not …

Going now. To hide.

Comment by Robert

I am sure Lauren is far too credible to have such a thing. I would frankly be disapointed if she did.

John, run… run now 😉

Comment by Rob Mortimer


Comment by lauren

In the red corner, Lauren Brown, unbeaten World Champion for smacking up sexist, sad old perverts using just her wit, brain and paint brushes and in the blue corner the men who couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding, Campbell and Dodds. It’s not a fair fight but it’ll be enjoyable.

Where’s my post Robert? You said I’d be getting a Robert’s blog “gold star” for the biscuit mug. Don’t forget a brand that doesn’t fulfill it’s promises is a brand consigned to the scrapheap of people’s hearts 🙂

Comment by Bazza

you cannot tackle mens preconceived perceptions about women and their sexual power by having a playboy bunny tattoo or wearing a branded t-shirt – it’s like trying to tackle the wrongs of fascism while wearing a swastika.

logos are powerful visual tools for a reason – they are language loaded with meaning, history and association that last a long time.

more often than not, the poor girls who brand themselves in that way are fully aware of men’s only association towards that logo and aspire to be lusted after in the same way hef’s penthouse bunnies are lusted after.

Comment by lauren

Exactly Lauren, exactly.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

john, are you trying to depress us? ‘cos it’s working!

Comment by lauren

I can’t be a ray of sunshine and optimism all the time Lauren!

Comment by John

Has anyone else noticed that for the first time a throwaway comment has resulted in a bunch of serious responses rather than the usual madness?
Is there something in the air or just that Andy is MIA?

Comment by Bazza

You assumed it was a throwaway line? You have much to learn.

Comment by John

Better be quick, I’m leaving in a month 🙂

Comment by Bazza

Q What’s the most intelligent thing to have come out a womans mouth?
A Einstein’s cock.

I don’t agree with that, I just wanted to get the tone of this blog back to its usual gutter level before Baz gets too confident and tries to make it “intelligent”.

Comment by Billy Whizz

notice that the doesn’t punchline feature your cock, billy.

Comment by lauren

Remember Billy I have small mans disease and an upcoming expense account that can make you weep from a thousand paces if I choose to use it against you.

Comment by Bazza

That’s because they choke to death on my huge beast Lauren. I wish I hadn’t written that but you started it.
And Baz, have I told you how manly you look today?

Comment by Billy Whizz

Cheap ass manwhore.

Comment by Bazza

Only because I know the character of person I’m pitching at.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I resemble that remark. Boom tish.

Comment by Bazza

I didn’t know you owned a rottweiler Billy…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’m too mature to react to such childish behavior so there 🙂

Comment by Billy Whizz

lol @ Rob ‘n Barbie.

I totally agree with your take on the Spicegirls and it’s a view I have shared many conversations about. I think their impact (above the music) was that they really gave the whole “girl power” thing the firm kick it needed to really take hold.

The same way that Barbie back in the day gave girls a figure to look up to and dress up all pretty (like good women were supposed to do back then) couldn’t you say the Spice revolution was almost the modern day version of this?

Different girls, different races, different styles, different attitudes, all coming together and celebrating “girl power” with pride and confidence – just the way all good girls should be these days.

Don’t get me started on the Sex and The City phenomenon… that’s a whole other issue.

*goes back into the spam bin, sob*

Comment by Age

I read this on my mobile phone RSS on the taxi into work and first off I was dead proud because its the type of post I get off on no matter how many times or in how many different ways you cover it. Its important and it elevates our business, the people in it and most importantly our customers. I wanted to get stuck into the debate but you know why I got wrapped up in other stuff. Other than top post. Women deserve to look fab and they also deserve to fly the space shuttle too. End of.

Comment by Charles Frith

Thank you Charles for getting the comments that my wife started back on track. I can now assure her it was nothing personal and infact an important issue too few in advertising take seriously.

Comment by Pete

Did girl power achieve anything? It seemed pretty superficial in the end.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I think it achieved far more than people give it credit for – not on the surface maybe, but deeper down I believe it helped put back some of the confidence that much of life took [takes] away from women.

It wasn’t about letting women act with the same dominatory instincts of men – it was about giving them the ability to believe in themselves and be true to themselve in what they wanted to do, say and think.

Sure it wasn’t like this for all – but in a World where ‘Man Rules’ and any woman who stood up was called ‘a lesbian’, I believe it opened up an area that had previously only been mentioned in hushes.

Comment by Rob

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