Quite a while ago, I wrote a paper on women’s education in Iran and the UK. It was long, and it was interesting (at least to me), and it left me thinking a lot about subtle – and not so subtle – visual cues that we receive in our reading. For example, in children’s readers in Iran, women are shown in the “proper” roles and places: mothers, wives, caregivers, homemakers. The images are consistent and an important way to reinforce, from an early age, the roles of men and women in society.
So why did I bring that up?
Well, this past Sunday, I was looking through the coupon booklets in the paper (yes, I clip coupons). Anyway, I found what I considered to be a horrific spread.
Johnson & Johnson had ads/coupons broken over two pages.
On page one, there were four coupons: band-aids, Neosporin, Benadryl, and Visine.
The image was of two boys who had apparently just finished (or were about to begin?) playing soccer. The tag line: “Make sure they’re ready to get back in the game.”
|"Healthy Essentials for Boys"|
|Boys play sports!|
On page two, there were four coupons: Stayfree, Carefree, Motrin, and Clean & Clear.
The image was of a girl holding a notebook with other girls looking on (but blurred) in the background. The tag line: “Help her be ready.”
I say: What. The. Fuck.
Why the fuck would you assume that girls need to be ready with maxi pads, Motrin, and Clean & Clear? Apparently they need to make sure their faces look good and they aren’t bitchy during that time of the month. Boys, on the other hand, need to be healthy and not suffering from any physical harm because, of course, they’re boys, so they’ll play hard.
Again I say: What. The. Fuck.
So here’s a shout out to Johnson & Johnson! Why not assume that, just maybe, women might play sports, too! And boys might need help with their acne! It’s shocking, I know, to assume that women should be more than just “ready” (perhaps for the boys that are now done playing soccer?). Why can’t women be “ready to get back in the game”? Why can’t boys just be “ready”? Why the fuck do we have to make these assumptions?
Now, obviously, I’m not stupid. It’s not like boys really need maxi pads, but they can use Motrin. They can use Clean & Clear. And girls can definitely use everything on the “boys” page.
Maybe Johnson & Johnson needs to pay attention to more than just “healthy essentials” and also pay attention to “healthy assumptions.”