Editorial: Standard bank can stick its dishwasher where the sun don’t shine

Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

Ek kan nie. Get a dishwasher for mom, whilst dad sits on his post-feminist patriarchal derriere and watches his new home theatre system? Nee. Ndixolele. Jammer, maar nee.

I don’t think I need to go into what is wrong with this advert. If you don’t know by now, you will never ever ever know (apologies to Simply Red). But, what I do want to know is what we’re going to do about this?

Gail Schimmel thinks that despite the advertising codes that are quite clearly being broken, a complaint to ASA wouldn’t work.  She thinks we need to start right at the source – to get to the creatives who are clearly not creative and have just been watching way too much Mad Men. Could they be the game changers? I’m not convinced.

We had problems last year with Markhams, and Durex, who simply didn’t get that sexism was not as cool as it looks in glamorised TV. There’s the possibility that they could be engaging in the ‘we know you know we’re being sexist and that’s why it’s so ironic‘ type of advertising. But here’s a thought for all of them we know that you can’t come up with anything except old tropes which are offensive, and mean that I didn’t even remember what the original ad was for, and had to google it.

Why must we endure? Why must we endure Koo implying mom makes all the food, KFC implying that eating a bucket of their extra crispy factory farmed chicken will give mum a night off because normally she’d be doing all the cooking, Aquafresh implying that it’s normal that dad’s don’t help to take care of their kids oral hygiene (because it does it all in one, mum), or tampon and sanitary towel manufacturers assuming that women are afraid to do things on their period? Enough.

I always think of a certain friend of mine when I hear blatantly sexist advertising. She said ‘I can’t understand why they pursue it, don’t they realise that women are the ones doing most of the purchasing?’ That’s where the power lies. Until the creatives stop seeing sexist advertising that works for selling things, they’ll keep regurgitating this same predictable nonsense.

So if you’re a woman with an account at Standard Bank, I encourage you to contact them on information@standardbank.co.za and ask them why, seeing as they have all your money that you’ve earned from your job, they want to relegate you to gleefully cleaning the kitchen (ask them perhaps, whether they realise that you have a job, and that women are allowed that too). If they don’t reply, close your account and move to another one with cheaper rates and better ads.

And if you’re a man, I hope you will do the same. Men don’t have to sit in front of the TV all day long. They can be part of a family too. If you’re a man who is tired of being branded a lazy layabout who drinks beer all day and watches TV nonstop, email information@standardbank.co.za and tell them so.

Stuff brandpower. Feminism, helping you buy better.


15 thoughts on “Editorial: Standard bank can stick its dishwasher where the sun don’t shine”

  1. I love this! I also recoilled in horror when I saw the add. Nearly as bad as the KFC’s “Mans meal” pay off line “Dont worry Mr 1 in 10, there’s still hope for you.” I’ll send FemSA a copy of my letter to Std Bank….and try hunt down the ad agency for a letter or two as well.


  2. My bug bear is that when one complains to the ASA, unless the advert outrageously objectifies women, then, more often than not, the ‘only joking’ defence seems to close the matter. I think that I tried line of defence in primary school when I called my sister a rude name in earshot of one of my parents. Nevertheless, sexism and misogyny candy-coated as humourous continues and it’s really only the feminists who don’t get the joke.


  3. If you prefer to call, Standard bank complaints number is 0860101101. They also give you an immediate reference number. Another company yo complain to is Unilever for their patriarchal “comfort clothe” family promotion. Their number is 0860106062.


    1. I have complained to Unilever and their response was ‘the people (read women) in the focus group liked it’. Incidentally it was also about washing powder. The copy on the Sunlight powder commends the buyer for being a “smart sista”. Yowzer!


      1. This is my concern. If you look at the one and only comment I received on the Thoughtleader version of this post, it’s that women love to cook for their man and I should shut my penis envying mouth. VERY scary that we are holding ourselves back with things like housework. Feminine Mystique 2012 needs writing.


  4. I wonder if there is any advertising that doesnt stereotype women… how about the McCain ad – women cooks and boys and dad moan…


    1. Hello sorely maligned women

      First off. A swig of perspective yea?
      This entire argument falls so solidly into the ‘first world problems’ category, it’s hilarious.

      Do empowered, platinum card wielding, 50 Shades Darker reading ladies really care what Ariel or Axe or Always or any other brand thinks of you? And that’s the problem with modern feminists, they pick silly battles. There are women in the world that are so disempowered, they sign up for abuse and exploitation. They could use a platform like this.

      If you really want to complain about kak advertising, complain about it under that banner – the industry is limping on the back of a strong creative history. It can’t embrace new media because Telkom has our country’s bandwidth in a headlock. All the kids graduate from 1 of 3 ad colleges, homogeneous thinking much? And all the talented senior creatives has moved abroad or been replaced for being too pale.

      Sticking this under the fem power banner cheapens it.

      That said, why aren’t you all on FNB anyway 😉


      1. So, adGUY, are you taking the Polly Anna apporach and telling us (spoiled middle-class women, you presume) to stop whining and look on the bright side? Sure, in our neck of the woods we can vote and wear pants and have a banking account. Of course we also stand a pretty good chance of being raped or beaten by a male partner too, but let’s leave that on the backburner for now.

        Agreed, for the most part, women in developing countries are worse off. However, the problems of women is more gender segregated societies, where male dominance is more palpable, differ in degree but not in kind. Your argument only stands if you believe that stereotypical or sexualised portrayals of women are harmless, and have no effect beyond the immediate context. If that is the case, then why are there no (or extremely few) adverts similarly poking fun at ‘black’ people? Surely ‘Black’ South Africans could take it on the chin if someone whipped out a “sambo” or “mammy” to advertise cleaning products or something. I mean, at least they’re not diggging up blood diamonds somewhere.

        Sigh, and now I must say it: There’s a mass of evidence that links the reinforcement of women’s low status to the pervasive images of them and ultimately to violence, harrassment etc. Nevermind kids’ socialisation. I’m sorry, I don’t buy your argument. I think its a cheap shot to trivialise the issue by portraying the women who find these demeaning representations as overprivileged whiners. Your argument really misses the bigger picture, in my opinion.


  5. Jen, you’re my hero. What people can’t seem to compute is that there is a link between this kind of stereotype and much more serious acts of misogyny and woman-abuse. The same way as there is a link between using the K-word and enshrined anti-democratic forces such as Apartheid. People who don’t see this astound me. I often wonder if they have daughters.


  6. Hi Trace

    Been a long time since we got into it;)
    I do get your points and I’m not here to fight. Also, this is your arena, so try and hear my points too instead of hulking out at me.

    My argument is all about the big picture.
    I understand the cumulative, trickle-down effect of ads that enforce, let’s call them ‘traditional’ gender bias. That is, woman – weak, so mum stays at home and takes care of the kids while men- strong, so dad goes to work then sits on his arse demanding food and some sweet lovin.

    But it’s never this black and white in real households. Roles and duties interchange all the time. Excluding societies with an active religious or cultural push for gender inequality (a debate for another time), I think the value placed on the advertising message is way off. You’re asking adverts to re-position gender roles that don’t actually exist in real life. You raise and teach your kids, hopefully, not the idiot box. They will pick up whatever is put in front of them. Don’t blame the, admittedly insipid, medium.

    And it cuts both ways.
    Men are just chiseled jawlines, abs and suits in most ads. How many men do you see raising hell about the unrealistic expectation and lack of support we live with? I think we are better at putting messages like this in their proper place; recognising ads for the triviality they are in the larger context where both men and women get exploited and abused.

    A few years back I saw this bit on Craigslist (I know right? The source of all great knowledge..), http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/sfo/279126743.html, give it a read- it’s roughly written. But points 10, 11 and 13 particularly put a lump in my throat.

    Basically, the world is not a fair place. Everyone gets discriminated and maligned in one way or another. And I’m not painting these contributors as over-privileged whiners! I guess, I just hope they don’t ever come to value feminism or ‘menism’ over Humanism.

    Call when you’re in CT my friend, we can wine over it some more.


  7. ADguy: Refer to the “broken window effect” in feminism. Small threats to gender equality in the first world are continuous with massive exploitation of women elsewhere, so we need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards misogyny.


  8. ADguy: why can’t the media be used to send a progressive message about gender? after all, this was done with race. I recall watching TV in the mid- to late-90s and thinking ‘where are all these multi-racial friendship circles, space etc.’ However, once the possibility is presented, then it doesn’t seem strange to people. The world’s a shit place, so suck it up? No, I won’t. Perhaps I’ll feel frustrated and miserable sometimes, or even most of the time, but at least I’ll be able to live with myself. Imagine if the suffragettes had said, ‘oh well the world’s unfair and black people can’t vote either. what’s with all this miserable protesting for the vote, let’s rather embroider something pretty’? We probably wouldn’t have the vote or bank accounts etc. etc. call me naive or idealistic or a sucker for punishment, but I can’t and won’t accept the status quo.

    PS hulking out?


  9. PPS I don’t buy the ‘men-are-victims-too’ argument. Sure, class, race, dis/ability mean that certain men who don’t fit the norm (white, heterosexual, middle-class, able-bodied) do experience discrimination or oppression. However, they still enjoy some of the benefits of patriarchy.


  10. I think you need to go one step further. Often advertisers are forced into a corner by the company concerned, because “that has what has worked in the past and we’re not changing our formula”. Go to the company and complain as they have the final say


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