For years I laboured under the misguided belief that the poor standing of women in todays society was the fault of men; that the glass ceilings of business, the abject sexism of language and the body fascism of the media were all the result of a patriarchal world which imposed impossible standards upon them at the request of men.
For a while it looked like things were improving, but somewhere along the way it went wrong. We reached a point where being allowed to get as shitfaced as men meant equality, and where masturbating with a wine bottle on Big Brother equalled personal freedom and we suddenly went on our way again, thinking that everything was alright, and pushing the sexes even further apart in the process.
Advertising is the main culprit here – a slow socialization of roles that has become an all out war on the female image, grinding them further and further down until their behavour is a commodity and their self esteem is purchasable.
The poor standing of women in society is no longer because of men, and it’s not because of women either – it’s because of money. It’s because self-loathing is more profitable than self-empowerment and because a happy woman does not make a handful of very powerful people very rich.
I know what you’re thinking – this isn’t the normal sardonic critique usually enjoyed on Watch With Mothers, this is the nigh on communist rantings of newboy Quincy Phd. Watch the advert for Olay Regenerist above, though, and tell me that there’s not something very sinister about the whole thing.
It’s just a little advert – one in a million of the same ilk, and in many ways as innocuous as them all, but within it lays the seeds of all that is wrong with the advertising industry. It defies all sense of decency, of moral purpose – it’s cold, callous and calculated to further deflate the self-respect of half of the population.
Turn over to More4 and there’s a repeat of How To Look Good Naked; a woman is sobbing, actually breaking down in front of a mirror – holding her slightly aged stomach and spluttering that this isn’t how she’s meant to look, how she’s meant to be “slim, and young, and beautiful…”
The connection isn’t hard to see. We live in a culture where an advert with two kissing men is pulled in its first week, but this shit goes on and on and on without a single complaint. It’s state sanctioned bullying, drip-feed demoralisation and the beginnings of Olay’s move into wholesale cosmetic surgery products.
The male targeted adverts of this ilk are easy to laugh at – Pierce Brosnan saving the environment, Ewan McGregor on his bike – but when Andi McDowell talks of erasing her life-story lines it’s almost conspiratory. Before, the voiceover would say “in your early thirties” – now it’s “in your late twenties.”
Mainly, though, it bothers me that Eve Cameron, beauty journalist, would hawk this shit. I know everyone has a price, but in my ideal world she’d have a flash of conscience and realise that all she’s really doing is perpetuating an impossible and unrealistic beauty myth and further ruining the societal advancement of her own gender.