Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the 50s sucked

my sister sent me this post today. i am so glad we don't live in the 50s.

10 Most Sexist Print Ads from the 1950s

 The 1950s – a time well before the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s, when sexism was not only tolerated, it was expected and actively encouraged, partly through chauvinistic print ads like the ones we explore below. With lashings of hindsight, we’re now able to see the funny side of the ridiculously overt sexism on display throughout the ads of the 1950s, mainly because they now seem so incredibly dated.
These ads stand as relics to a bygone era, one in which sexism as well as racism and other forms of intolerance were commonplace. Studying these print ads helps us reflect on today’s society and shows just how far we’ve come. Printing ads like the ones below, complete with their preposterous female stereotypes, would be unspeakable these days, and I, for one, am very thankful for that.

1. Kenwood Chef

Kenwood is most famous for its Chef food processor, which was launched in 1950. Very little has changed in its design and you can still buy one in the shops today. While the Kenwood Chef itself has stood the test of time, this ludicrous advert certainly has not. I can’t imagine the wife doing much cooking with those nails!

2. Chase & Sandborn

There’s a lot to be said for domestic violence. Sure, it ruins lives and tears families apart, but at least you can be certain your coffee is fresh! The mere suggestion today of an ad such as this would be enough to have you sacked from most major ad agencies. What were they thinking? The more you look at this ad, the sadder it gets.

3. Dacron Leggs

For years, advocates of equal rights have complained about men “walking all over women” in the job market, in education and in the home. In this incredibly sexist Dacron print ad, the “walking” switches from metaphor to reality. It’s a shame that the text at the bottom is so small. Squint very hard and you can just about make out the phrase: “After one look at his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her”. Try coming up with a more misogynistic strapline than that – it’s quite a challenge.

4. Bell & Howell

There’s something not quite right about Sabrina. Although pretty “plasticy”, her face looks normal enough, it’s her breasts that look more than a little unusual. Perhaps it’s just my inexperience talking, but I’ve certainly never seen a lady with mammary glands shaped like that. Far from natural looking, they jut out a mile from her chest, looking more like legs bent at the knee. Talk about the oversexualisation of women in advertising- this really takes the biscuit.

5. Dormeyer

This ad is sexist in so many ways. Firstly, of course, it suggests that women are unable to look beyond their “preoccupation” with housework when choosing a Christmas gift. Secondly, it makes it clear that a woman could never buy such an item for herself, but would have to rely on her husband. And thirdly, it insinuates that women are such emotional wrecks that not getting such a gift would bring tears to their eyes.

6. Hoover

This is the second Christmas ad in this list and it follows a rather similar theme to the first: that’s women getting domestic appliances for Christmas gifts, something which most people in the 21st century would consider to be reasonable grounds for divorce. Nevertheless, the woman above seems so happy with her Hoover, although I can’t help but feel it’s all an act. Surely she’d prefer some jewelry or something (or is that sexist too?) At least her husband could have wrapped it properly rather than simply sticking a bow onto its handle. Where’s the element of surprise in that?

7. Drummond

The company that printed this ad must be proud of themselves – sexism written plain and simple into ink! It certainly doesn’t beat around the bush. Drummond’s message is clear: “Men are better than women”. It’s not the most comprehensible ad I’ve ever seen: one of the besweatered gents in the picture seems to be suspending a woman, who has presumably fallen off a cliff due to her own intrinsic stupidity, by a piece of string, but I’m not really sure why. Well at least women are “useful” indoors.

8. Lysol

In the 1950s, ads for products which counter feminine odors were more popular than ever before. Here you see a woman at her wits end. She’s been emotionally locked out by her husband because her hygiene leaves a little to be desired. The locks on the metaphorical door to her husband’s heart are “doubt”, “inhibitions” and “ignorance”. You can learn a lot from this ad- if your love life starts to cool, don’t blame your man, question yourself (or not.)

9. Mornidine

In the 1950s, many admen would have you believe that women were good for only two things: performing housework and having children (which includes sex, of course). The inability to perform either one of these tasks correctly could spell disaster for any husband. Luckily, thanks to Mornidine, a drug designed to combat morning sickness, women could continue to make breakfast for the family even when suffering from symptoms of pregnancy.

10. Schlitz

This ad is but another example of women being seen as prisoners of their own fragile emotions, completely incapable of doing anything without breaking down into fits of sobbing when confronted with the slightest of dilemmas. How can a woman bear to let her husband down- especially when cooking? If a woman cannot cook for her man then surely she’s completely useless. Lucky for the lady in the ad above, she has a very understanding husband who’s just as happy to have beer for dinner as food- a worrying sign of alcoholism if ever I saw one.

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via business pundit


  1. I cried a little when I burned an apple pie once. I was making it for my boyfriend and his friends and I was so embarrassed.

    I like the Christmas list one ^_^ Also, I think stereotypes usually exist for a reason.

  2. WTF?! OMFG! You're kidding me?! I can't believe this crap!!! Wow, just wow! I'm so glad I didn't live back then in the 50's! These adds are such BULLSHIT!!! How f**ked up is that? I think I would have love the 60's era.

    Andrea :)

  3. All I have to say is KISS MY F**KING ASS! Mwah ^_^

  4. I knew the 50s were spectacular for a reason. Back when men were men and women stayed in the kitchen or they got what was coming to them.

  5. I knew the 50s were spectacular for a reason. Back when men were men and women stayed in the kitchen or they got what was coming to them.