Ads That Really Suck

qsol.jpg
This advertisement (larger image with full text) for QSOL.com appeared in the August issue of the Linux Journal.
Let’s tick off the most offensive points. The misogyny is obvious, since the ad treats women explicitly and entirely like sexual objects. The themes of objectification and comparing women to machines continue throughout the smaller print with lines like “We’ve all known disappointment. And few things are more disappointing than undependable, expensive servers that don’t satisfy your needs.” Ah yes, it’s hard not to agree– it’s really frustrating when either uppity bitches or online servers won’t do whatever you say.
That’s the second problem. Not only are women nothing but sexual objects, but the print also implies that, like technology, women also sometimes fail to act “properly.” I think that we can all agree that there are certain standards we hold for how we want and expect our computers to behave. Apparently, QSOL has similarly rigid standards for women. The word “won’t” in the sentence “won’t go down on you” implies that, for some reason, the woman should go down on you.
Of course, the ad isn’t simply offensive to the broad (pun not intended) demographic of women; it’s also directly insulting its audience. It plays off of a stereotype that everyone knows– haha, guys who like computers are nerds, and nerds don’t get any sex– and yet whoever wrote it somehow forgot that it’s a negative stereotype about the company’s own customers. Making an even bigger mess, the ad is excruciatingly heterosexist with its “wink wink, you know what we mean, guys” attitude. Who, after all, decided that “nerds” are always straight? That’s not even mentioning how the ad completely ignores the fact that– horror!– some women like computers, too. Yes, I do think that the technology-savvy crowd is probably a mostly straight male demographic, but does that give a company the right to completely erase the existence of its other customers? Since they obviously didn’t care much about how their male customers felt, did QSOL ever consider what its female customers might think about the company’s apparent view of them? I’m betting not.
Lastly, as all clever sexist advertising does, QSOL assumes that its customers are “in” on the joke. It doesn’t entertain the possibility that maybe, just maybe, all men aren’t assholes who spend every available moment running around trying to find random women to give them blow jobs. As a result, the ad acts not only as an example of sexism, it also encourages, normalizes and perpetuates the sexist hierarchy. Hey, it’s all fun and games, just a joke, lighten up– and it’s just us guys talking here, anyway.
Sure puts a bad taste in my mouth.

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79 Comments

  1. dbshawn
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    well i guess the admakers figure you’d have a better taste in your mouth if you just went down like you were supposed to!
    it’s monday. i’m out of control!

  2. Chickensh*tEagle
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I’m a guy, and I actually thought the ad was pitched to women IT professionals disappointed because servers go down on them and some guy wouldn’t.
    I guess I must not listen to Rush Limbaugh enough. :-(

  3. SarahMC
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Sometimes I really feel for men. They buy a product (women), expecting it to work like it’s supposed to (sexual slave), and it malfunctions! There really is no justice.

  4. Halloween Jack
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    My take on the ad was that it was saying to the reader, “No one wants to have sex with you.” Kind of a weird approach.

  5. wagadog
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    The good news is, it’s great to see other females reading Linux Journal.
    The bad news is, ads — and attitudes — like this.
    Oh, and you thought my little article on how to go about gathering legal evidence of sexual harassment in response to the Marie Claire article that you should just ‘larf it off’ was a bit extreme, hmmm?
    Guess what. I’m a Linux programmer, started in Unix in 1983 — worked with Mainframes and micros going back to 1976 before that.
    I have been putting up with shit like this for like THIRTY EFFING YEARS, and finally FINALLY someone notices — and doesn’t give me the victim-blaming “you should take advantage of your advantages as a woman and by the way what are you doing after work today why don’t we go out for a drink (wink-wink)” we’re just talking amongst the boys, fit in and larf it off, get a thicker skin CRAP I’ve been hearing for…well, longer than most of these guys have even been alive.
    Men get their ideas about how women should behave at work from their mothers. So of course they expect us to be handing out blow-jobs like candy. Hnf.

  6. LindsayPW
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Ugh, that’s effin ridiculous!!! Not to mention they should put a MALE face there. Because they’re the ones that throw a fucking hissy fit if you even mention that you’d like them to go down on you, a woman!
    But yeah, this ad totally sucks.

  7. DT
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Okay, I read the ad wrong. Maybe that’s because I’m a woman and I do a lot of computer programming? I read it as the problem being men not going down on women. The woman in the ad is pissed because a guy won’t go down on her, but at least the server won’t either.
    I’m NOT saying that this is how the ad was meant, just that this is how I read it at first glance.
    @wagadog – I respect your Linux prowess (although I’m all about C, myself), but your comment sort of implied that men get blow jobs from their mothers. That’s probably not what you meant, but it was pretty funny.

  8. Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    @DT: eh, Linux is written in C.

  9. Jane Minty
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Okay, I read the ad wrong. Maybe that’s because I’m a woman and I do a lot of computer programming? I read it as the problem being men not going down on women. The woman in the ad is pissed because a guy won’t go down on her, but at least the server won’t either.
    Me too. It seems to me more aloong the lines of the “beauty and the geek” appliance ads that featured buff men and geeky/brainy women.

  10. froggyness
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Blergh. They’ve certainly lost my business.

  11. dogs_run
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Did you ever stop to think the add might be directed towards women, whom men don’t want to “go down” on?

  12. Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    There are lower depths to be plumbed:
    http://jezebel.com/gossip/condoms/funny-or-offensive-281547.php
    Sadly.

  13. TheSoyMilkConspiracy
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I’m offended by the fact that there’s a comma where there should be a period or a hyphen. I’m also REALLY offended that they capitalized the letter after the improperly placed comma.
    Sexist AND stupid.

  14. Mary B
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Come on now. If the ad was aimed at a female audience, they would’ve made the servers hot pink. It’s that simple.
    (Just kidding! Almost.)

  15. SarahMC
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I highly doubt this ad is aimed towards women.
    First of all, the woman in the ad is very conventionally “sexy.” Vampy, even. Looks like a model they’d use to appeal to men, not women.
    When it says “won’t go down on you either,” I think the implication is “just like her (the woman’s face).”
    And jokes about cunnilingus are just not that common – not as common as blow-job humor anyway. Maybe among men, but as a way to reach women? I don’t think so.

  16. Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I don’t think that the ad could possibly be aimed at women for several reasons. But the clearest reason is the final words in the ad “Don’t worry, it’s a sure thing!” I’ve never heard the phrase “sure thing” in respect to a sexual encounter used by women to refer to men. I have only ever heard it be used by men to describe “easy” women– hell, there’s a whole movie by that name on the subject.

  17. wagadog
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    @DT no I didn’t mean to imply linux geeks get bjs from their moms (although I can name one that I think actually does — yes, Fred, that means you)– I meant to imply that when a man sexually harasses a woman at work, maybe it’s because his mother puts out at work, i.e. that his mother is a whore.
    At one point, upon being subject to harassment, I’d casually the guy what his mother does for a living. It may take two to tango, but only one to squirm.

  18. wagadog
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    @DT no I didn’t mean to imply linux geeks get bjs from their moms (although I can name one that I think actually does — yes, Fred, I’m talkin ’bout you)– I meant to imply that when a man sexually harasses a woman at work, maybe it’s because his mother puts out at work.

  19. Posted August 6, 2007 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Well, there’s a reason that study that showed young women earn more than young men in big cities didn’t find the same results in the Bay Area and in Seattle.
    And what’s with that capital “O”? Random capital letters in the middle of sentences must appeal to misogynists.

  20. Posted August 6, 2007 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Like most sexist jokes, it manages to be insulting to both men and women. Nothing new there. *sigh*

  21. anardana
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that is just wow. Ugh.

  22. Posted August 6, 2007 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    If “going down” meant man-on-woman, then would their little logo at the bottom be a mouth opening for a penis?

  23. Posted August 6, 2007 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    The ad is horrible, but I totally read it as targeted towards women. Maybe because I’ve dated (and quickly dumped) guys that had issues with performing oral sex (and, uh, not with receiving, surprise, surprise).
    Maybe if I could read the smaller print, that lame ad would be less confusing. And probably even more lame.

  24. Devann
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    LOL I like this. “This ad is totally sexist and heterosexist! and besides it should be a picture of a man, THEY’RE the ones who won’t do oral!”

  25. Posted August 6, 2007 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Hey, wagadog:
    Maybe I missed the joke, it’s been known to happen. What’s feminist friendly about calling someone’s mother “a whore” because you don’t like the someone in question?

  26. ShifterCat
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    If the ad were not aimed at straight men, why would they have made the model’s lips so enormous and bright red?

  27. Kimmy
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Roni, thank you for saying that. I was wondering much the same thing. Seems pretty reprehensible to me.
    As far as the ad goes… I don’t see how anyone could think this image would be used in an attempt to appeal to women. I can’t interpret it that way, even if I try. That face is the same as any one of a thousand “hot woman” faces used to appeal to men in a thousand other ads.

  28. Interrobang
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I read that as “The woman in the picture won’t go down on you, and neither will our servers.” The absurd lipstick was a total tip-off.
    Anybody out there want to do a straw-poll on heterosexual male Linux geeks who prefer giving oral to receiving it? No matter how you want to look at this (even including the crud scraped off the bottom of the barrel), they blew it (ha ha) bigtime with this one.

  29. Jane Minty
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, after looking at this a second time, I guess you could take it the other way. However (as mentioned), “going down” tends to imply a man giving oral sex to a woman. Also, in my experience, men into Linux on average don’t seem to have too many issues with “going down” on a woman. :)

  30. blahblahblah
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    For f–k’s sake you third wavers might want to do an email campaign against this type of crap instead of your usually bitching and wondering if something is sexist when it blatantly is. Fucking Duh. At least Ms. usually includes an address or phone number. But then maybe you’d have nothing to “discuss.”
    Seriously. All your masters in Women’s studies don’t seem to be doing **Shit**.

  31. SarahMC
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Pfft! Blahblahblah indeed.
    Who gets bent out of shape that people are talking to one another on the Internet? Seriously.
    *crickets*

  32. Shanpo
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    If anyone cares to know, QSOL’s contact info is: 800.933.7510
    Sales sales@qsol.com
    Support support@qsol.com
    This ad is offensive to both sexes. I am completely irritated by it. Especially when, as these other ladies say, the truth of the matter is that we are less likely to get a man to go down than the other way around. I’m sure you are all well aware, but don’t stay with a jerk who won’t give as good as he gets…made that mistake before, won’t make it again-its a sure sign of his innate selfishness.
    Just like finding this ad funny is a good sign that you’re an immature, sexist idiot.

  33. Posted August 6, 2007 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the contact info, Shanpo.
    As for “blahblahblah,” he seems to have accidentally typed his username over again where his note was supposed to be . . .

  34. RachelPhilPa
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I sent the following e-mail to qsol:

    Hey, I’m a long-time software developer and open-source user. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your ad, and I wanted to thank you for putting your disgusting sexism and misogyny right up front for all to see – that will make it easy for me, and anybody with half a brain, to recommend against your company’s servers. Rest assured that you won’t see any business from any companies I work for.
    – Jan Rachel Friedman

    Heh…if you replace the “q” in qsol with an “a”, you get a very good description of whoever came up with the ad…

  35. Posted August 6, 2007 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m genuinely suprised that some folks actually think this ad is aimed at women!
    First of all, the computer engineering field is still male dominated – so most of the folks in their target market are men.
    Second, there is a common stereotype that male computer nerds can’t get women. I don’t know how reality based that stereotype is, since I don’t know anybody in that field personally, but it is a popular stereotype.
    So, obviously, this ad was aimed at male computer engineers who, because they are considered nerds, can’t get conventionally attractive women to give them blowjobs (even after they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on drinks and dinner at expensive restaurants).
    The “punchline” is that, just like the women they date, this particular brand of server won’t go down on them either.
    Of course, with servers, it’s a GOOD THING if they don’t go down!
    I figured that out within 30 seconds of looking at the ad – I’m genuinely puzzled that some of you all didn’t figure it out instantly also.
    To the women who say they have problems getting men to go down on them – you must not live in New York, up here, women (at least African American and Latina women under 40 – the demographic of women that I date) EXPECT you to go down, and will not tolerate it if you dont. Guys know that and wouldn’t even dream of not going down on a woman.
    I don’t know what’s wrong with the guys you all are dating – cause that would not fly here!
    As for the folks who criticized the grammar of the ad – who cares?
    I personally hate people who are anal about gramatical conventions – if you understood what the ad meant, who honestly cares if it violaed some “rules” imposed by rigid English teachers?
    The key to good writing is if your audience can understand you – and if they do, who gives a damn if it breaks some dictionary “rules”?
    Finally, on the offensiveness of the ad – I could see why women would be offended (since it implies that the only reason you are put on this earth is to sexually service men).
    But I can also understand why male computer engineers would have their feelings hurt too.
    Basically, the ad says that, no matter how high you advance in the engineering field, no matter how important your title is, or how big and well furnished your corner office is, or how big your salary is, conventionally attractive women will still see you as a nerd, and will not have sex with you.
    Basically, by male standards (which hold that the men who get the most sex are the most masculine) you as a computer nerd are and always will be a loser.
    And if I was a computer engineeer, I’d be really offended by that.
    Especially since the ad was probably made by the kind of guys who always get conventionally attractive women to have sex with them (the kind of guys who were the star quarterback in High School – and still have that same kind of personality as adults) and who have nothing but scorn for the men who can’t “score”.

  36. Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    the ad is terrible, even not from a sexist-content angle.
    as halloween jack indicated above, it’s pretty poor assumption on the advertisers’ part to think that i don’t have a sex life, and i’m a loser. that makes me not want to use their product, whatever product it is.
    and secondly (and for my point to be made we have to assume that blow jobs are a good thing), to equate not getting a blow job with good performance by a product is pretty schizophrenic. comparing women to machines aside, the very crux of the ad is telling me that i want a product that will not give me satisfaction. or…something.
    poorly planned, poorly written, and yes, quite insulting to women everywhere, especially women programmers and it employees.

  37. Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    the ad is terrible, even not from a sexist-content angle.
    as halloween jack indicated above, it’s pretty poor assumption on the advertisers’ part to think that i don’t have a sex life, and i’m a loser. that makes me not want to use their product, whatever product it is.
    and secondly (and for my point to be made we have to assume that blow jobs are a good thing), to equate not getting a blow job with good performance by a product is pretty schizophrenic. comparing women to machines aside, the very crux of the ad is telling me that i want a product that will not give me satisfaction. or…something.
    poorly planned, poorly written, and yes, quite insulting to women everywhere, especially women programmers and it employees.

  38. Faerylore
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    The airbrushing on that disembodied face is a nice touch too.

  39. Posted August 7, 2007 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Hi Cara,
    You said “The word ‘won’t’ in the sentence ‘won’t go down on you’ implies that, for some reason, the woman should go down on you.”
    I’m going to be contrarian here and say that no, “won’t” in the sentence “won’t go down on you” instead implies a lamentable-to-computer-techs conviction that women in general and the conventionally attractive women in the ad in particular can be depended on *not* to give blowjobs.
    I’m pretty confident in part because rhetorical orthoganality of the text would be lost if a “good” server shouldn’t go down but a “good” woman should… and in part because if men *expected* women to have sex with them they/we wouldn’t use the phrase “getting lucky” to describe it.
    (Note: I think the ad is more, not less insulting. It embodies additional hidden assumptions about the woman’s sexual availability being related not to her desire but to her partner’s economic status.)
    figleaf

  40. Lucy Gillam
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    If the ad were aimed at women, the woman in the picture would have an exasperated expression. Or any expression, for that matter. She’s not being presented as a human being for the target audience to identify with. She’s being presented as a blank object for the target audience to covet.

  41. Chickensh*tEagle
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    So the date won’t go down on the targeted reader?
    Hmmm…maybe there’s a market for a server with…

  42. Shanpo
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Good point, Lucy. So true.

  43. wagadog
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Roni taunted:
    ==============
    Hey, wagadog:
    Maybe I missed the joke, it’s been known to happen. What’s feminist friendly about calling someone’s mother “a whore” because you don’t like the someone in question?
    ===============
    It’s simple logic: if he thinks women should put out at work, he probably learned that this is how women should behave at work by observing his mother.
    The point is, that if they’re going make asshat misogynistic stereotyped assumptions about their female co-workers — and then try to claim it’s a “joke” or that the female coworker “shouldn’t be so thin skinned” then it’s perfectly logical, turnabout being fair play and all, to make the same asshat misogynistic stereotyped assumptions about their mothers, sisters and wives. And rub the man’s stupid little face in it.
    But implied, so won’t figure it out until, like the following day. Or actually needs it explained to him.
    It doubles as an intelligence test. You see, if the guy can’t even figure out that he’s just been insulted…why should you even give a shit that he’s a misogynist asshat to begin with?
    Of course, you still write down his exact words and the time and date, and note the names of all witnesses present, in your little black book, since evidence of a hostile work environment is evidence of a hostile work environment, even if the misogynistic asshats creating that hostile work environment are unbelievably stupid as well.
    It might take two to tango, but only one to squirm.
    Another one is to mock defend a man who’s got a pornulated screen saver with things like, “no, I think it’s nice for him to keep a picture of his mother on his computer…” One of the “stupid misogynist tricks” of the geek variety is to put up some porn and wait to see the fireworks of your reaction. You don’t give it to them. You wait for them to POINT IT OUT to you, and needle you about it..and then drop the bomb, that you just assumed it was a picture of his mother. Mother if he’s in his 20′s, wife if he’s in his 30′s, daughter if he’s in his 40′s, etc.
    It’s polite, it doesn’t open you up to the “we’re only kidding” and “it’s not so bad” shit, and it demonstrates how utterly fucking stupid and malign these people really are — to themselves. It embarrasses the shit out of them, because they were trying to set you up for ridicule for being a feminist, and you turned it around on them so fast they don’t even know what hit them.

  44. Posted August 7, 2007 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Wagdog: Um, no. It is not– I repeat, not, not, not– okay to battle misogyny with misogyny. There is absolutely nothing feminist in acting like a man’s wife, sister, mother belong to him and use them to insult him. Period.

  45. Pup, MD
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Are there really still guys who won’t go down on a woman? I guess if we have men in this country willing to launch wars on random Arabic states, I shouldn’t be too surprised.
    My impression of the dynamic for most adolescent boys regarding fem-receptive oral sex has turned into the boy asking the girl to “let him” go down on her. I’m not sure if they’ve picked up that historically men didn’t see that opportunity as something they weren’t ‘supposed’ to long for.
    Yeah, I ended a sentence with a prepostion, grammar nazis. Bring it!

  46. SarahMC
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Ah yes, the best way to fight misogyny is with… more misogyny. Great idea, Wagdog.

  47. wagadog
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    You people just don’t get it.
    If a guy thinks it’s OK for a co-worker to put out at work, then he must think it’s OK for his mom to, as well. His mom might have issues with that, but she can — and should– take it up with her son.
    So he brings shame on his whole family by sexually harassing women at work. He does by me.
    If he wants to put porn up on his screen saver, tell him it looks like his mom. Or his wife. or his daughter. If he wouldn’t want his children or his mom or his wife dressing like that, or doing those things — then he can bloody well examine the consistency of his own misogyny, and his own objectification of women.
    You take it up with the harasser, not the person that merely observes that, by LOGIC — not misogyny, LOGIC — if he thinks its OK for women to put out at work, then get his mom in here, and he can bloody well tell HER that.
    Make him say it — “Hey MOM, I think YOU should be putting out at work. Show a little leg why don’t you!”
    Sounds GROSS doesn’t it.
    Well how do you think it feels to fucking have to put up with that shit for 30 years.

  48. wagadog
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I agree with y’all that it’s not OK to fight misogyny with misogyny, but this is just simple logic:
    If a man thinks a co-worker should be putting out at work, then he must think it’s OK for his mom — or his wife, or his daughter — to do the same.
    Likewise, if you, as a woman, think its OK for herself to be putting out at work, then LOGICALLY you must think it would be OK for your mother to do the same thing.
    And how WOULD you feel if you found out your mom was doing something like that?
    Pretty gross, huh? Pretty humiliating. Oh, but WE’RE supposed to “lighten up” — about suggestions that gross and humiliating?
    I don’t think so.

  49. Kimmy
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    So, you attempt to fight misogyny by using misogynistic logic and behaving in a misogynistic way yourself. Not cool.
    If you want to insult a man, insult him. Leave his female relations out of it. They’ve done nothing to you and don’t deserve to have you belittling them. And no matter how logical you think it is, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Belittling women.
    Nobody’s saying you shouldn’t fight back. Nobody here is saying “lighten up.” Nobody here is even saying that you can’t be as insulting as you want in response to misogyny.
    But level the anger and the insults in the right direction – at the men. Not at the women who happen to bear some relationship to them.

  50. Posted August 7, 2007 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Wagadog: I am disagreeing with you and questioned you, which is generally not considered taunting in typical use.
    What you don’t seem to get is attacked a man by attacking “his” female (mother/sister/daughter/whatever) treats the woman in question as an accessory to, or belonging to the man instead of an independent person. I get what what you’re saying that the man, in theory, respects his mother and would be appalled at the idea of her receiving that treatment. However, you’re denigrating an uninvolved woman to provoke a man and arguably equating promiscuity with prostitution. The premise of “Your Mom’s a whore” is still steeped in sexism, even if you intend it as a learning tool. Which by the way, is incongruent with your presenting it as an insult.
    Same kind of deal in responding to the porn by saying it’s his wife. You know it’s not, you’re trying to slam his wife’s respectability to attack him.

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