When I look at cringe-worthy images such as this, I am happily reminded of how far the Western world has come in its progression towards gender equality. The mere fact that this advertisement for “Mr Leggs” men’s slacks was made public, highlights the overt sexism of pre 1970s
The image depicts a woman’s head attached to a tiger skin rug, with a man in smart dress pants triumphantly placing his foot directly on top of her head, hand on hip. Underneath this image are the words “Its nice to have a girl around the house”. The deliberate and immediate message that derives from this image is that a man who wears ‘Mr Leggs’ slacks will be superior to his woman; will have to power to (quote from the ad), “sooth the savage heart” of his wife, the “tiger-lady”.
The woman in this image, a symbol for all women, is objectified and presented as a household item; a man can literally “walk all over her”. The women is positioned on the floor, unable to move, apparently placed at the right level for a woman. The words ‘hero’ and ‘noble’, used in association with the male figure, are juxtaposed with the identifiers, ‘she’ and ‘her’, used to refer to the woman, thus further connoting the idea of male dominance and importance.
At a time when women were the housewives and child carers and the men were the bread-winners, this text may not have been seen as controversial. However, I cannot imagine a woman in any context being happy with this type of degrading and offensive advertisement. The many off-shoots of media today are guilty for using shock tactics and scandalous images in an effort to promote products, but it is humbling to know, that this sort of image would certainly be a cause for protest today amongst men and women alike.
And the Thompson Company did not stop at this ad……….
Thompson Company c.1970, Its nice to have a girl around the house, advertisement, John Daniel Begg, viewed 20/3/2014, http://johndanielbegg.com/tag/sex-is-a-very-misunderstood-advert-technique/.
Thompson Company c.1970, Good thing he kept his head, advertisement, Found in Mom’s Basement, veiwed 20/3/2014, http://pzrservices.typepad.com/vintageadvertising/2009/09/what-did-she-do-to-deserve-this-she-was-being-too-nice.html.