Have you seen Kelly Ripa's commercials for Electrolux? (If not, you clearly aren't watching enough daytime TV).
Here, catch up:
There's so much wrong here I barely know where to start. Where's her husband? This is ostensibly his house and these are ostensibly his kids, as well. And he doesn't have a fraction of the career she does. Shouldn't she have some help? Why is she writing off her (high paid, high pressure) job with a "but I'd rather entertain at home"? And most of all, good GOD, why is it acceptable to show a woman "doing it all" as if that's what we should all aspire to?
And then there's this gem, in which Ripa plays second fiddle to a single friend who is baking cupcakes for all the "hot guys" in her building. Yes, they are "all after her cupcakes." Really? REALLY?
I'm not the first person to be irritated by these throw back commercials. Kenny Darter from Hate On Me writes, "'The problem that has no name' has been identified, and it's called Kelly Ripa." Lemondrop lists the ads as #10 in their list of the most offensive ads to women. At Shakesville, SKM writes:
It would be comforting to think that Ripa's Electrolux ad is sending up the old '50s- early '60s image of the happy housewife made ever more productive by the modern appliances her husband buys. But there's no twist here, no subversion of the stereotype. Unless you count the fact that Ripa is a well-known full-time "career woman" (one of her other Electrolux ads shows her dashing from work to a home full of guests and glazed, passive children). The only new addition to the old 1960 model is that Ripa is both the happy housewife and the breadwinner.
It's that I keep coming back to. Not only is the "these appliances make my housework invisible and even less important!" trope about sixty years out of date (and it was gag-worthy the first time around), but the ads, and Ripa being who she is, make things even worse, implying that not only should a woman keep a perfect house and wait on everyone in it (can't her kids get their own snacks?), but she should also bring home the bacon and buy her own fancy appliances. And, of course, she should do it all smiling, perfectly made-up, and in size 0 designer jeans.
Clearly, commercials don't reflect reality--they'd never sell anything if they did. The ridiculousness of the ads isn't my gripe. My problem is that what is being shown is not the right fantasy. If the boundaries of what is humanly possible could be stretched to allow the perfect superwoman fantasy that Ripa plays in the commercials to exist, couldn't they also be stretched to allow us to do stuff that actually means something? If there were 40 hours in each of my days, as there would have to be in Ripa's for her to honestly host her talk show, play with her kids, have a dinner party, and provide her husband with family friendly nookie, I sure as hell wouldn't spend them doing laundry and making cookies, no matter how nice my appliances were. If we're going to sell women shit by showing them commercials full of superhuman famous people doing the impossible, I want them in capes, fighting crime, saving the innocent, not miraculously multi-tasking in their stylish houses.
When Kelly Ripa played Hayley Vaughan on All My Children, she started out as a punk rock teenager, then worked as a private investigator, was the CEO of a cosmetics company, opened a bar/restaurant and a salsa club with her husband, and became the host of a TV show. She eventually had a couple of kids as well, I think, but I don't remember ever seeing her do laundry. It's a sad state of things when I prefer the soap opera version.