Stereotypes in food and gender are no thing of the past. I mean, everyone knows that men are responsible for making the money, fixing things and being tough and strong, while women are delicate and should really only stick to cooking, cleaning, and raising the kids, right? Unfortunately, this idea is believed by many and is reinforced significantly through food advertisements.

In her book, Housework and Housewives in American Advertising: Married to the Mop, Jessamyn Neuhaus analyzes how since the 19th century advertising agencies and their housework product clients utilized a remarkably consistent depiction of housewives, and illustrates that although second wave feminism successfully called into question the housewife stereotype, homemaking has remained an American feminine ideal. Neuhaus said that advertising persistently utilizes highly idealized images of housewives enjoying ease and convenience of modern food, while still devoting themselves to the well being of their families. This reaffirms the domestic gender norms. She uses the example of dishwashing, a labor that “robs the housewife” of time and good spirits. A dish soap ad promised easy and fast cleanup without damaging delicate hands. Emphasizing that not only are women fragile and delicate creatures, but that shiny clean dishes also reflect the housewives care for her home.

Now, since the women are in the kitchen cooking and cleaning all day, you would think she would be able to open a simple ketchup bottle, but not according to Del Monte. Their 1953 ketchup as shows a woman, fully dolled up with her hair, makeup, and nails done, holding a bottle of Del Monte Ketchup. Above her in bold letters reads, “You mean a woman can open it…?”. This is suggestive of the fact that women are so weak that they can’t even open ketchup. This rejects the idea that women can handle all kitchen duties, and reinforces the idea that women are weak and need a mans help for anything that requires even the slightest bit of physical activity. While this Del Monte ad has a couple of negative stereotypes towards women, there is one indication that this woman possesses some power. In the advertisement, the audience sees this power in the woman’s body language. The womans eyebrow is raised, possibly indicating that she is showing other people that she is capable of opening a bottle because she is physically strong enough.

In Bisquicks 1944 ad, the stereotype seems to be quite the opposite. At first glance, you see a cartoon man wearing a pink apron, pouring what appears to be Bisquick mix into a bowl. He appears in a very feminine matter, almost having feminine features, showing that even when a man does something in the kitchen, it’s still feminine. His pinky is up, and his cheeks are rose, also giving him a sense of femininity. Below the image, is a short story where the man tells the “little woman” that they never have hot biscuits. Calling his wife a “little woman” demonstrates how the husband thinks of the woman as lesser than him. The “little woman” replies that she has so much to do, and can’t make good biscuits anyways. The husband then says that he remembers seeing bisquick at the store, and he will do it himself.  The ad also shows the biscuits being made in 2 steps, as well as displaying the packaging. This ad, at first seems as if its feminist, assuming men are stupid and can’t make biscuits, giving women power. But after reading, one would realize that the ad is actually showing how the woman is unable to make biscuits, and the husband will just go do it himself, its that easy.

Both of these ads are incredibly sexist and reinforce the stereotypes of women in the kitchen.

2 comments on “Critical Analysis- First Draft

  • Your paper was a fun read, almost too fun to the point where it teeters on the edge of not being professional. However, I think that’s okay for this class.
    You did really well in incorporating the Housewife book and opening up with that, and then leading to the close readings of the ketchup and Bisquick ads. This essay is very well organized. Now all you need is a strong concluding paragraph and your essay will be golden.
    Could you also post your ads on this post just for the others to see what they are for reference? Great job!

  • I love that your thesis is the first thing that you include right of the bat, it saves the reader from having to search for it. I don’t per say think that this is a unprofessional, I like the fact that you described the advertisement in depth while giving us a good glance into what the advertisement is depicting. You seem to have a solid source working for you here, and as long as you add a few more sources I think that you have an extremely solid draft to go off of! Great job and good luck with your second draft.
    Bhakti

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