Friday, November 20, 2015

Vileda: When the stereotype is appropriated.

I know this ad is old and someone else reviewed it before. What made me remember it today is a gallery of racist, crude ads published by the Guardian and necessarily thought of as belonging to the past. Is the Vileda ad which says "for Lebanon to be clean, let the women handle it" sexist? Yes. It is not-very-clever? Yes. Did it stir - for better or worse - a controversy? Yes. And that is not always good for the brand by the way contrary to the idea that "any advertising is good advertising". My problem today is elsewhere, it is when the stereotype is appropriated, would this still be sexism? Racism? Denigration?... Look at this photo taken from the Vileda sponsoring of the avant-premiere of the movie Neswen (women). The woman is proudly holding a sign which says the same thing as the ad above, flashing it proudly and smiling to the cam. She obviously agrees to the message, endorses it, and thinks the joke is funny.
In this case, can we still call it sexism?
If the person belonging to the cultural or gender related section being targeted by a stereotype actually wants to be part of that stereotype, can we argue over the identity belonging bit?
I was accused twice of not being a feminist (actually, the second time I was accused of being a misogynic person). The first time for commenting on an ad about football, the second time for my artwork at my Beirut/SECAM exhibition where I depicted women in kitchens taken from vintage white goods catalogues.
But when a woman asks a man "hey, get out of here, what are you doing in my kitchen?" it becomes difficult to counter the argument of appropriating that stereotype, after all, if these people want to belong and identify with how they are socially and publicly portrayed who are we to argue!
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