As an adult male, I am both appalled and very disappointed by numerous commercial ads on television and in newspapers and magazines as well, which feature women in domesticated roles. Men are nowhere to be found!
Without referencing those ads or products by name, women, as a gender, are presented as subservient to men. They are the ones who buy, prepare, and serve meals to their family at home.
They also vacuum, scrub and mop floors, wash clothes, etc. Need I say more?
Laura Cereta, one of several fifteenth century A.D. Renaissance feminists, would be equally appalled. In her 1488 publication entitled “Defense of the Liberal Instruction of Women”, she
condemned men who viewed themselves as superior to women. She argued that the expectations of men that all women should marry, bare children, and remain confined to their homes in order to comply with whatever their husbands require is a gross usurpation of the rights of women then and now as well.
I could not agree more with Cereta’s critique of men as superior to women. I have been very happily married, for twenty years now, to my beautiful wife. She is the ‘apple of my eye’! As her husband-for-life, I have also completed my share of daily chores. I wash, dry, and return dishes, pots and pans, coffee cups, glasses, and silverware to their designated place. I also vacuum and wet mop our floors, make our bed each day, and wash, dry, fold, and return our laundry to wherever it belongs. What I do each day are not requirements of my wife’s ‘honey do’ list. It is my own unique way of working together with her in order to complete those daily tasks, which face all couples, married or not. This also applies to many other men as well, who voluntarily complete similar tasks at home on a daily basis.
Even though I am not certain about the age or gender of those who write and produce the ads I have referenced above, those hired to create such ads can do more to portray women as equal to men rather than as a secondary class. What better way is there to celebrate the beginning of a new year?
John Scolaro is a retired Professor of Humanites and Fine Arts at Valencia College.