The realm of housework has long been the domain of women. As such, advertisements for products used in cleaning the house tend to be targeted at women. However, in recent times these commercials seem to have taken up a habit of drawing a rather disturbing analogy between cleaning products and men.
One of my favorite examples (as in favorite to hate) are the series of commercials for the Swiffer cleaning products. Below are a selection of six, but these aren’t all of them.
The general theme is as follows:
Woman meets mop/broom/duster. Woman then meets swiffer. Woman dumps mop/broom/duster.
Now, there is nothing wrong with women ending relationships to seek out new partners, in general, but these commercials have a few parts which are really quite unpleasant.
First, the women in these commercials do not appear to be young, uncommitted girls. They are meant to seem as married women, cleaning their family home. Therefore, this idea of ‘moving up’ in relationships is shown within the confines of married life. So much for spousal loyalty.
Second, the commercials show a rather odd version of male objectification. Here we have an analogy drawn between men (feeling, thinking, breathing humans) and cleaning products (unfeeling, disposable items to be purchased and replaced).
The message of switching out cleaning products for new models is made uncomfortably similar to the idea of ‘marrying up’. These women are shown to do such without sympathy and without hesitation, while the ‘old tools'(men) are left alone and heartbroken. But they are shown in the form of mops, brooms and dusters, so there is no human sympathy there. It is a small step to have people look at men in general as disposable, replaceable and undeserving of kindness.
After all, don’t women deserve to have the best, most efficient model?
I would be quite entertained by a commercial which showed a man ‘moving up’ to a new model of, say, razor, leaving his old unit sad and alone, begging for forgiveness.
I would also be entertained by just once seeing a woman get banished to the couch, but now I’m just getting wishful.