Picture your classic 1950s housewife. She has shoulder-length hair that is neatly curled. She wears a tea length, shirtwaist dress and low heels — a feminine, yet, conservative look. She is probably cooking in a kitchen and sporting her staple piece — an apron. This woman, however, is more than a chef. As a mother and a wife, she is the caretaker, cleaner and shopper. She tends to the house during the day, takes care of her children and waits for her breadwinner husband to come home from his oh-so-tiring day at work. Any woman who did not uphold this image was looked down upon.
Fast-forward a few decades, and we find that the 1950s housewife stereotype is unbelievably sexist. It puts women in a box, cutting them off from the professional working world, and is ultimately degrading. Over the years, society has worked to breakdown this female stereotype and replace it with one that holds women equal to men. As a woman, I feel that we’ve done a pretty good job. Once in a while, however, someone pulls the 1950s housewife image out of the shadows and drops it into today’s world, sparking well-deserved backlash. French news channel France 3 is one of those culprits.
France 3 released an ad that shows video clips of a house with messy bedrooms, a smoking oven and burning shirt on an ironing board because there is no woman around to take care of it. The ad then shows a woman’s closet with a missing pair of heels, the music becomes lighter and the tagline reads, “The women are on France 3,” suggesting that most of their hosts are women.
Okay, so I guess France 3 did have good intentions in terms of representing women. It tried to boast about the fact that it does not choose men over women. France 3 aimed to show off that it is not sexist in any way — great! But then, we take a longer look at the delivery of this message, and see that it completely contradicts its original intention. The ad’s fatal flaw is found.
In response to the backlash towards the ad, France 3 has pulled it from the air. I’m still not quite sure how it even managed to be released in the first place, though, without anyone seeing the issue. It’s so obvious! By showing scenes of an unkempt household due to the absence of a woman, France 3 unintentionally implied that, basically, women are still assumed to be in the kitchen. In a more general sense, this ad reminds us that the world still has a long way to go in flushing the old female stereotype out of our collective subconscious. Let us not forget Rosie the Riveter, who, if she were a real person, would be rolling over in her grave at this France 3 ad. Let us continue to push towards a more unbiased society. I guess I commend France 3 for its valiant effort, but in terms of its methods, this news channel is not one to set an example.