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Tis the season to be… sexist?

2012 December 17

There’s currently an ASDA advert doing the rounds of various websites (and the TV, I imagine, given that’s where adverts also exist) which has earned the ire of various commentators, including the mighty, mighty Mumsnet because they believe it to be sexist.

Before we go further, have you seen the advert? If not, here you go:

Opinions vary as to whether this is offensively sexist or whether such labels are merely the result of ‘political correctness gone mad.™’ However, what is being depicted is pretty unambiguous, especially thanks to the “behind every Great Christmas, there’s mum” tagline at the end: Christmas is the result of Mum working very hard and (by inference) Dad being generally useless, not up to scratch and oblivious of her efforts. It falls squarely into what The Mary Sue terms Dumb Man Commercials, whereby in order to appeal to the (presumed) female audience, the advertisers present men as foolish when compared to the power of womankind – if the power of womankind is limited to, say, cleaning an oven.

Now, lookit, there’s quite enough sexism going on at this time of year what with the pink aisle full of plastic dolls and retailers emblazoned with gender-segregated gifts without the whole of Christmas being laid firmly and squarely on the shoulders of women and negating the role of anyone else in the fulfilment of annual joy. No pressure, love.

This isn’t really a post about lambasting the ASDA advert – many people have done that, and more eloquently too. What it is about is advertisers’ perception of who we are as people, and whether that matches up to how we really are and how we think of ourselves.

Given the results of the recent census, we know that households such as the one depicted in the advert are not in the majority in the UK – far more people either live alone or are lone parents. So the assumption of “Mum” being the lynch pin for the “average” Christmas in the UK is not a reflection of reality.

There will be many families who rely on Dad, or another relative. There will be many Christmases spent amongst friends, or as a couple without children (like my own Yuletide will be). There will also be many Christmases in the UK that people spend alone – either through positive choice or sad circumstances. Lots of people don’t celebrate Christmas at all, of course. But I am absolutely not going to get into a discussion of religion as well as politics.

Well, not for this post.

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