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Mad World: The Most Sexist Ad in America

Last week, Consumerist posted the results to their Worst Ad in America poll. Winners (well, losers) include the McDonald's "not until I've had my coffee" guy and Jimmy the Extenze spokesperson—no surprise there, since those ads are super annoying. But, with all of the excellent categories created by Consumerist (Creepiest Commercial, Most Grating Performance By a Human, etc.) there is one category left to vote on: The Most Sexist Ad in America.

Now the criteria here are pretty basic. The ad must have aired fairly recently (or we'd have waaay too many to choose from) and it has to be sexist in some way. Since that leaves us with, um, just about every ad currently in circulation, I asked our Facebook fans to help me come up with some candidates for voting. If you don't see your own personal pick for Most Sexist Ad in America here, feel free to write it in in the comments! Now for the nominees:

Dodge Charger: Man's Last Stand

This ad basically frames living life as a male human being as so intolerable (sorting the recycling is haaard you guys!) that men must drive Dodge Chargers just to keep from losing it. Vilifying women all the way, of course.

Reebok Easytone: Boobs vs. Butt

Well you know you're in sexist territory when a disembodied male voice cheerfully urges you to "make your boobs jealous!" Not only does this ad objectify women and suggest that the only reason to exercise is to get male attention, it goes one step further by actually pitting body parts against each other (because it's not enough to be jealous of other women, you have to be jealous of yourself, too).

Miller Lite: Aluminum Bottle

This ad is just one of an entire series of "I can't say I love you because that would be embarrassing but I can express my undying affection for this beer/candy bar/insurance company" commercials. What makes ads like this especially sexist is that they reinforce the notion that men should hide their emotions and treat the women in their lives as less valuable than their lite beers if they want to be "real men." Also this ad is on ALL THE TIME during NFL games, making it even more annoying.

Allstate: Mayhem

Sigh. It saddens me that The Beeper King has stooped to mocking teenage girls, but unfortunately he has. This ad plays on every teen girl stereotype in the book (too emotional, unreliable, catty, bratty, rude, loves pink, etc.) and the fact that a grown man is doing the impression just makes it all the creepier.

Clorox: Mad Men

This ad is a stand-in for all of the Mad Men-style ads that glorify retro sexism. Just because a television show about the 60s is popular doesn't mean that we want to buy a detergent to help a fictional character cheat on his fictional wife. And I like Mad Men!

The Poll:

OK, it's time to vote!


  • Dodge Charger: Man's Last Stand
  • Reebok Easytone: Boobs vs. Butt
  • Miller Lite: Aluminum Bottle
  • Allstate: Mayhem
  • Clorox: Mad Men
  • Other (write your pick in the comments section!)


OH_Logo.jpg This project was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH's grant program. Any views, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Oregon Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Comments

59 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Before I vote...

These ads are sexist but primarily against women. Are you looking for the most sexist ad out there or the most sexist ad against women in particular?

the most sexist ad out there!

Hi Paul,

We are definitely looking for the most sexist ad out there. I tried to get a mix of ads that were sexist against both men and women, but I probably have the "sexist against women" ads more on my radar. I'd love to hear your suggestions if you see any ads that should have made this list!

- Kelsey

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

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You got it : )

Thanks Kelsey. I appreciate your honesty. But as I just mentioned to BM, I do see the ads now more as sexist against both men and women. I think there's a very good selection here from which to vote. Perhaps an open discussion too would be constructive in addition to the voting, in a dialogical spirit unlike the impertinence of snippy Shannon.

Recheck Google results, plz

Paul, if you need someone to explain this for you, you're probably on the wrong site.

Ouch.

Ouch.

Paul's question was very

Paul's question was very polite and genuine. What is the point of posting a nasty response? If someone with a different perspective wants to be a part of the dialogue here or in any other feminist or otherwise progressive forum, should we not view this as an opportunity to talk to them respectfully, and perhaps change their mind in the process?

Your negative comment only serves to stifle dialogue at best and reinforce negative stereotypes of feminists as worst.

Thank you Sarah

I appreciate your support and couldn't agree more with what you say. This is a great site and magazine and think it'd be an excellent forum for discussing and debating various perspectives on gender, feminism, and all that BM is committed too.

Because this is supposed to

Because this is supposed to be a safe space for women, not one where we have to patiently and cooperatively explain the nonexistence of "reverse sexism" or "sexism against men" to uninformed commenters. Bitch Commenting 101 = knowing that any "ism" is a combination of prejudice and power and NOT derailing, no matter how politely.

Actually, we are concerned with all sexism

Thanks everyone for chiming in here. I would like to point out though that Bitch is concerned with the ways in which sexism affects both men and women (and queer folks and, well, everyone). Though sexism does indeed involve a combination of prejudice and power, that combination has negative consequences for all people, not just women. Look, for example, at the Dodge Charger ad and the way in which it portrays men as gigantic douchebags. That is an example of sexism harming men as well as women (because no one wants to be portrayed as a gigantic douchebag).

I think Paul raised a valid point and certainly wasn't trying to make anyone feel unsafe. Please do contact me if you feel otherwise, though.

Hope that helps!

- Kelsey

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

I don't agree.

Ads #1, #3 and #5 all seem pretty darn sexist against men to me.

True

I agree BM. I've thought more about the ads today and have had a change of perspective.

They are sexist against

They are sexist against men.
they are painting men as people who find it so HARD to shave and clean the sink afterwards, put their laundry in the laundry basket... basically any basic self care life skill. wow... that's pretty sexist.
they are painting men as people who love beer more than their girlfriends... pretty sexist.
and apparently all men who work in advertising cheat on their wives and need to find a way to get away with it.

surely you don't really think that that's all men are capable of? i think these ads are pretty damn sexist against men as well as women.

Why do men always have to put

Why do men always have to put ridiculous comments like this Paul? Why does it irk these guys so much that women speak out about being treated like dirt, oh gosh we're so sorry it offends you. I guess if a black male complained about ill treatment you'd respect that. Why don't you compare the amount of sexist ads towards males vs. towards females and see if you have a legitimate sarcastic comment to post?

The best part of that

The best part of that disgusting bleach ad is that in the movie What Women Want, Mel Gibson considers a very similar ad for a lipstick and dismisses it, saying, "No, no, women will hate that."

If even chauvinist characters played by Mel "YOU'RE A PAIN IN MY ASS! STOP BEING THAT!" Gibson gets that this is offensive...

It's a script...

Hey Robin, it wasn't Mel that realized anything. Nancy Meyers (an accomplished "From women's point of view director) directed that film, and Cathy Yuspa co-wrote the script. Mel, being the great actor he is, is a raging sexist male. He gives gentlemen a bad name. "Was I talking to you sugar tits?" I mean, come on. I get what you're saying about the film, but he was a puppet of two women, and their views. Just figured I'd clarify that. As far as the film goes, it's entertaining, but it shouldn't take getting electrocuted, and obtaining a magical power for men to realize they're being pigs.

Yeah, but women can be sexist

Yeah, but women can be sexist against women too. They're like.... Aunt Toms.

AUNT TOMS!

best ever!

Oh, of course! I was mostly

Oh, of course! I was mostly being silly. Point is, even a character that's written to be chauvinist could apparently see that this was in bad taste. Thanks for the info on the women behind the movie though- that's really interesting!

That batch of horrible Twix

That batch of horrible Twix commercials popped into my head immediately. Insulting to women AND men.

Agreed! Men are either

Agreed! Men are either portrayed as pigs or morons, women as shrews or easily manipulated bimbos.

dodge has to be the worst

and not just for their nominated "Man's Last Stand" commercial. I give a dishonorable mention to the commercial for the Dodge Caravan that says it "literally gave birth" to other minivans. Uh, no it didn't. Way to trivialize the act of giving birth (something I can guarantee no ad execs who created that commercial have ever done). As a complete word nerd, I must add that I also despise when the word "literally" is used against its definition for effect.

Word nerds unite!

I am with you on the "literally" thing. I hate when it's used incorrectly! And it's not as if Dodge's ad department doesn't have about 1,000 copywriters/proofreaders—clearly it was a deliberate misuse. Grrr.

- Kelsey

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

The Obnoxious Docker's Superbowl Commercial

Pantsless men marching over the hills singing the rousing chorus "I Wear No Pants." Perhaps more humiliating to males, but obviously continuing the assumption that there's only one pair of pants per household. And I completely agree re: the Twix commercials.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nys0i_FRjTI

Clorox

I think Clorox also deserves a dishonorable mention for the ABYSMAL commercial they ran during last year's Mad Men -- a time-lapsed shot of a laundry room with a voiceover going "your mother did it...her mother...her grandmother...maybe even a man or two. They all did the laundry." Yikes, yikes, yikes.

Rose Petal Cottage

No one mentioned the Rose Petal Cottage ads from a few years ago?

The whole premise behind the ads (or the product in general, really) is that every girl's "dream" is to wash dishes, cook, and take care of babies.

Well, that was 100-proof awful.

In the end, I have to go with "Man's Last Stand" just because the quantity of sexism is so egregious. "MEN ARE SO EMASCULATED, because women have opinions and like silly things and don't always do every domestic chore themselves! Look at all these poor slobs who've had their happiness drained by being in the presence of women! Our car is your last chance to be a REAL, DOMINANT MAN!"

Still, the "Mayhem" bit gets a serious dishonorable mention from me. Mockery of teenage girls holds a special place in my, er, metaphorical-opposite-of-heart. Is it so hard to grok that they're people too and aren't a monolith? Plus, just from an ad standpoint, showing cars crashing is a repellent bit to include in a commercial, even for insurance.

Miller Lite campaign stinks.

I HATE the Miller Lite "Man Up" commercials where in each case, the guy is mocked and emasculated by a female bartender because he doesn't choose a Miller Lite. "Don't get your panties in a twist," she scoffs at him. Rage!

Because being equated with a woman is insulting, don't you know? And apparently, only real men drink Miller Lite. I just hate this campaign from all angles.

I found this writeup with the commercials embedded - http://www.rellimzone.com/2010/08/miller-lite-man-up-commercials-a-marke...

The most overtly sexist commercial ever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGvolRasWU8

How did they get away with it?

ugh, and some of the comments

ugh, and some of the comments are equally terrible. (though there are a few good ones)

Wow.

That Bud Light ad is terrible! At least (according to YouTube) it never "officially" aired, although more than 100,000 people have viewed it so far. I guess we should thank the Bud Light Institute for "inventing" feminism though, right?

- Kelsey

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Eeesh! This wins hands down.

Eeesh! This wins hands down. Makes my skin crawl with anger.

Flo TV write in

I felt like the worst Super Bowl ad for me was the Flo TV ad that shows a man with his girlfriend in a bra store. The announcer tells us that his girlfriend has "removed his spine" which means he can't watch the game. The end of the commercial is the most offensive, though, when the announcer says "change out of that skirt, Jason." Overall, the Super Bowl was misogynist to the point of being hurtful. The huge female audience was not only ignored but also attacked throughout the game.

http://superbowlads.fanhouse.com/2010/flo-tv-spineless/

Yes! Oh my lordy, I just hate

Yes! Oh my lordy, I just hate it when even things that women consume too, like beer and candy (two things I personally consume a lot of) are marketed solely to men. I didn't realise money became worthless the instant it touched a woman's hands. I long for the day that I see a beer advert geared towards ladies.

Yeah, and not a LIGHT beer

Yeah, and not a LIGHT beer either,
a DELICIOUS ice cold FULL FAT beer ;)

YES! I can't believe it

YES! I can't believe it wasn't on the original list. That floTV ad drove me nuts during the super bowl, and even more when it aired on "normal" TV. The ads for the super bowl seemed more sexist than usual, or maybe I was just paying more attention.

My Vote

I voted for the Clorox ad. It's more subtle, which in my mind makes it more problematic. It's easy to spot the sexism in over-the-top, played-for-laughs ads. In something like that Clorox ad, we get the impression that that's "just how it is". Also, it seems extremely sexist on every level, upholding negative stereotypes about men, women, and their relationships. All of the ads do that, clearly, but this one plays to a stereotype that men cheat and there's just nothing we can do about that but pretend it isn't true and try to cover it up. It's such a damaging idea for everyone, especially since it's not true but it's played to be true. Ew. It made my skin crawl.

The advertising industry is...

the "last frontier" for gender equality. It seems like this is where the reinforcement of gender stereotypes is most salient. All the time we see images of women smiling while skipping around the house with their Swiffers and air fresheners and men acting clueless when it comes to handling their kids or expressing their feelings (because they just want to drink beer or watch football!)...isn't this 2010? I'm pretty sure there other representations of men and women in the world? It's kind of mind-boggling...

AXE, AXE, AXE!

For the love of Flying Spaghetti Monster and all that is sacred, WHERE is the "Scrub the Skank Away" AXE commercial and why was it omitted from this list? Or ANY AXE commercial for that matter, cause let's face it: they're all pretty bad, and they always have been!!!

Axe...

Yeah, Axe has definitely provided us with a smorgasbord of sexist material over the years. If we hadn't already hosted an Axe poll asking readers to vote on the most offensive of five different Axe ads (you can still vote! http://bitchmagazine.org/post/mad-world-the-axe-effect) they definitely would have been included here.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

And the Axe "clean your

And the Axe "clean your balls" commercial where it is an infomercial-type with two women cleaning sports balls with the Axe scrubber thingy and men asking if they can clean their balls and one man holds up a sack of soccer balls and asks them to clean his "ball sack." I wanted to puke it was so gross and sexist.

Im confused. How did the Axe

Im confused. How did the Axe body spray commercials not make the cut?

See my above comment!

Thanks!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

I wanted a Charger...

and then I saw that ad.

The violent undercurrents...

in both the Dodge and in particular the Mayhem really bothered me. One of the other commenters mentioned the car crash, but what's with the Mr. Beat-Up man look? It's like 'softcore snuff flick' and some of the less savory parts of Fight Club got together and spawned him. After the total flat affect of Dodge (which really is the most foul to both men and women) to go suddenly to the 'raw power of speeding in your car' was like getting hit.

And regarding the guy who asked about 'sexist to women or sexist overall'... On one level it seems like it could be trollish (like all the racists who use 'reverse discrimination' lines) but it could also be from naivete. Growing up the privileged gender, like growing up a privileged race, you are taught to be blind to the system of privilege. And you gotta start somewhere.

As a 17 year old female, the

As a 17 year old female, the last car insurance add irritates me, but is still far from the most SEXIST ad, to me. If anything, i felt it was more..agist? I know it's proper to use Agist when speaking of the elderly, but does it work for youth too because it is sending negative messages about teenagers? Well, whatever the correct term is, I feel this ad is more that than it is sexist.
The two I'm really trying to decide over are Dodge's Man's Last Stand (oh, you poor, sad things, you. I'm sure you're the ONLY ones that have to do domestic work, go to a job, watch or participate in things you're not fond of just for your partner. I'm sure females in history or even common day have ANY idea what it's like to be silenced or condescended to.) This ad would be a GREAT ad if it were men and women saying the different dialogue, showing that everyone has these issues and it's part of being human and whatever product they're trying to sell you is a release from that. But because they made it all men, they are sending out a specific message and vibe that men get the shit end of absolutely everything and women are taking over, they are the bosses, and they don't have to put up with anything difficult in THEIR lives, and this product they're selling will make you more of a MAN if you buy it.
The second one is the Reeboks. Augh. They are literally turning a woman into two tits and an ass. It's the only thing that matters, and it's the only thing you see on the screen. She's a piece of meat. SHE doesn't even do the talking about- you know, her health, or how good she feels because of the product- the boobs say it all for her, naturally (how ELSE would anyone ever pay attention?
hmmm, I think I'll vote Reeboks.
The light beer and the clorox I didn't think were too bad. They were also definitely more sexist towards men though. The light beer shows men are dimwitted and incapable of displaying emotion and affection for other people because they don't want to be too sensitive. Clorox i guess kind of makes men look like sex-craved beings who can't go a few days on a business trip without getting some. But even that wasn't very strong.

GOOD commercial

I was looking through my old Youtube favorites (an excellent past time) and came across this Tarsem Singh-directed commercial for Pepsi. I remembered this thread (which I hope isn't too dead!) and thought I'd share it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofICNgc8lqU

What I thought was interesting was that it did fall into the rather unfortunate trench of advertising where it gets three of the biggest stars in music (Pink, Beyonce, and Britney Spears) at the time and clads them in chainmail bikinis, but supports this with a very unique context; They're meant to go into an arena and fight each other to the death and presumably the outfits were to add sexiness Caligula-style, but instead of becoming objects of violence and sex they throw down their weapons and start a Queen-fueled revolution. Pink and Beyonce singing "We Will Rock You" should be enough (I wasn't too impressed with Britney), but at the end THEY'RE the ones enjoying the product (Pepsi) as opposed to the majority of, say, liquor ads where the girls are there to look sexy/be compared to the product for the enjoyment of the men.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it and its just a soda commercial with some skimpy battle gear, but at least its considerably above the crap posted in here (also I will never get tired of Pink's awesome vocals!).

!!! I love this. Everytime I

!!! I love this. Everytime I watch TV I'm constantly staring in horror at the commercials. The first one is the only one that I have seen on TV (I thought it was pretty bad) but I'm going to vote for the creepy All State Insurance Teen Girl Ad.

One worse than some above

I'm really surprised this one Miller Lite one isn't listed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wkryBeRx8I

Terrible!

That ad is terrible! And also really confusing. What does a tattoo have to do with Miller Lite? I guess they just mean to imply that if you have a lower back tattoo (which is commonly associated with women) then you don't know what good beer tastes like? They lost me.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

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Axe Deodorant Commercials and Shower Gel and Cleaning products

Ok so the only reason i clicked on this was to read about the axe ball commerical and got this shit instead what ever, like only one of those seemed sexist to me, any way back to the real problem at hand.

Axe commercials have since their beginning in main stream tv been of the sexual nature to get guys to buy their product by using outrageous examples of female hordes swarming the guy with in a short while of applying the shit. Example one, Chocolate man, the commercial begins innocent enough but then takes an excellent tone of sexual persuasion as a gym full of girls throw themselves against the class as the choco-dude stops and waves to them. And as a convertable full of women passes by they rip off his arm and he then waves to them with the other arm, then while riding the bus a woman literally takes a bite out of his ass. To any young horny ass fuck testosterone induced male teenager this product gives them the dream of every woman's undivided attention, and seems to ensure them a way to get rid of some of their "Jesus Juice."

The "Mayhem" All State commercials needs additional context

Kelsey, it sounds like the only "Mayhem" All-State ad you paid attention to was the teenage girl one. If you've actually watched the other ones, you'll know that it's not exclusively attacking teenage girls or females in general. Each commercial shows the diffeent ways cars can be wrecked, whether through personal carelessness or arbitrary outside factors. This includes but not limited to: a loosened satellite dish falling onto an SUV, a deteriorated flag flying onto someone's windshield on the freeway, a tied-down Christmas tree falling off the top of an SUV, swerving out of the way to avoid a deer, hitting a tree branch, the list goes on. It should also be noted that the majority of these incidents involved men's carelessness instead of women (i.e., the usual stereotypical culprit of car accidents in our society). In fact, one of the more embarassing cases was a teenage male, who was hired to mow a person's lawn for $5, haphazardly wrecking the house because of his ineptitude and apathy. Perhaps the "Mayhem" commercials are a little biased against teens in general, but at least they're gender balanced. I can't say the same with the other choices here (especially "Man's Last Stand").

If you're curious about the other "Mayhem" ads, go here:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mayhem+allstate&aq=f

why does everyone care

Why care if their are sexist ads out their? That only means their are sexist people out their, which is alreay known.

Because is sends the message

Because is sends the message to every boy that sees it that women and girls are nothing but objects and " bitches"

Wait, what's wrong with being

Wait, what's wrong with being bitches?

Did you see the name of this website?

Personally, I didn't find the

Personally, I didn't find the Allstate Mayhem ad sexist. It was stupid, but I thought it was ridiculing a kid of a certain age and demeanor, rather than women in general. The Clorox was mildly sexist. The Reebok and Miller Lite were pretty bad, but the Dodge Charger was just shocking. I can't believe something like that was even allowed to air in this century.

The Charger ad is beyond sexist; it is saying that a relationship between a man and a woman is really a war, a kind of Hegelian dialectic, a zero-sum game. Women get whatever they want outside of the bedroom because in it, they'll open their legs--or get on their knees. As such, man is constantly degraded and emasculated by the vicious woman whose only goal is to make him less of a man. (Why, exactly? What point does that serve?) This ad reinforces the most vicious, backlash misogynist imaginable. It really is unbelievable to me that it aired in the 2000s.

White Bread and...

There's this powerful meme out there that whenever "Dad" is in the kitchen, he is invariably making a sandwich. Whether it's a big, meaty, macho sandwich with miracle whip for himself, or a cute little PB&J for his daughter (aw) Dad can ONLY make sandwiches.

JIF's idea of stepping aside from their "choosy moms" campaign = let dad into the kitchen, but don't let him make a mess for chrissakes like he ALWAYS does.

Yea but they're great

You may claim that they're the most sexist ads ever which is probably true, but you cannot discount the fact that these in fact are great ads, and some that ran in the super bowl they were so good.

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women need to stop getting

women need to stop getting mad over stupid shit. I am a woman and I can say that we whine too much. We get mad at men for vilifying us yet we do the same to them. Get over it!!!!!