Excellent long-form journalism on changing gender roles in American advertising, by Megan Garber. Posted this month at The Atlantic. Another interesting look at sexist advertising from years past is found here. And here.
The casual and sometimes jarring misogyny of 1960’s/1970’s American advertising is embarrassingly evident from our 2015 perspective. The antiquated gender roles and sexist imagery was almost certainly seen by (white male) advertisers as social progress. “See? We know that women exist,” is the implicit message, though you have to look past the hilarious rape gags and playful winks of domestic violence.
These advertising campaigns would, of course, never run today. And rightfully so. Socially (for good or bad), it’s now bad business to venture far from empowering themes or bland, broad tedium. Rooted sexism and tone-deaf gender roles are still abundant in advertising, but they’re more muted, more calculated, less obvious. This is the trail of progress. Not just for women, but for the dumb-ass white men advertisers who have been dragged into the 21st century. You’ve come a long way, baby.