Clorox’s history of women’s unwaged labor

Okay, not really. But this ad for Clorox does end up unintentionally showing how women have been doing household grunt work for generations.
The worst line in the commercial says that “even a man or two” has done the laundry. As if all the women watching are supposed to have some little laugh to ourselves about the inequitable division of labor. “I do shit work for free, tee hee!”
(Also, as was pointed out by tipster Jessica Hicks, depending on how you listen to the line–it could be read as a little dirtier than intended.)

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30 Comments

  1. SarahMC
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I had pretty much the same reaction when I first saw this commercial months ago.
    Even a man or two lowered himself to perform a little women’s work! Well I’ll be!

  2. Posted August 27, 2007 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that was a depressing commercial. Really reminds you about centuries of limited opportunities
    Worse, I think, even than the commercials portraying women as orgasmically happy as they sprinkle the laundry detergent into the washing machine.

  3. LiviaLioness
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I HATE Clorox commercials! There’s one on a local radio station featuring housecleaning tips from “the accidental housewife”. At the end, she said that’s she’s “saving our sanity and our manicures, one tip as a time.”. Makes me want to reach into the radio and choke her.

  4. the frog queen
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m just curious, and maybe there’s a section on this somewhere that I can read about this.. but..
    I was wondering how one would purpose to even things out for stay at home mother everywhere,(or single mothers) in the income way? I’ve always been annoyed at not being able to figure out a realistic approach to the unpaid labour issue.

  5. aniri
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I fucking hate this commercial and all others in the same category. I really don’t know what it’s going to take for us to remove images like that from advertising. They cater to people’s emotions, nostalgia, or whatever you want to call it. But the nostalgia is not real anyway. It’s an ugly illusion that’s on replay. What’s even more outrageous is that people still think Clorox products are good. PLEASE!!! Not only do they pollute our minds, they also pollute our bodies, and the planet. It’s really a shame.

  6. MoodyStarr
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Clorox is one of the worst offenders when it comes to the portrayal of women as little more than house cleaners.
    I’ve heard it mentioned on here before, Jean Kilbourne’s “Cant Buy My Love,” and may I reiterate- fascinating book. I highly recommend it.
    Clorox’s ads seem to come from another time, as if the people behind the ads failed to notice women’s changing roles in the world.
    Or maybe, my priorities are off and I should put down the books and do some serious thinking about my laundry, kitchen counter, toilet bowl etc…

  7. peter
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    The same ad runs here in Canada with a completely different voiceover. I’m sorry I lack the technical knowledge to post it. The message in this country seemed less directly tied to gender based divisions of labour.

  8. ccchild
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    As someone whose father picked us up after school, drove us to sports practice, and made us dinner while my mother was off being the breadwinner, I’d say this commercial is offensive to both sexes. It makes me pissed on behalf of my dad!

  9. Autumn Kat
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    It’s not even historically correct. Until fairly recently, many middle and upper-class women DIDN’T do their own laundry: they sent it out or had (female) servants to do it for them. The very idea of doing one’s own laundry would have been foreign to an upper or upper-middle class Victorian lady.

  10. Posted August 27, 2007 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I have always hated this commercial. I also hate this other Clorox commercial. I think it’s for an antibacterial spray. It shows a family (sans mom) making a mess in the kitchen. The kids are baking and spill egg yolk all over. Dad’s reading the newspaper and I think his coffee or something spills in front of him. Then Mom walks in with groceries, sees the mess, and quickly cleans up everything with her trusty Clorox! Why is she responsible for cleaning up when she wasn’t even there when the mess happened? Why doesn’t dad clean up, as he was responsible for the kids while mom was out shopping?

  11. SarahMC
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Ooooh I know I hate that one too, FEMily. My mom would have been like, “You little shits! Get a paper towel and clean up after yourselves!”
    In Clorox-world, the whole purpose of mom’s whole existance is to feed and clean up after her kids and husband.

  12. DDay
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you ccchild. My dad did most of the laundry in my household and I don’t exactly see that as a radical thing.

  13. equityforbothgenders
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    aniri-
    There is a way to put an end to Clorox utilizing images like this to sell their products. It’s called staging a boycott. Nothing makes a corporation listen like hurting their bottom line.
    This is what those first and second-wavers did to get their voices heard, make change happen on a personal and political level…good ole’ fashion, take it to the streets protests. Posting about crappy, sexist ads on a blog, while cathartic, can be completely ignored by the power structure that keeps images like these out there.
    And as both a man and the primary houseworker(I do everything but the windows…which are filthy at this point, btw), this commercial does not represent me and the millions of other men either, those whose housework is more than just taking out the garbage and killing bugs.

  14. Posted August 27, 2007 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I hate the “Mama’s Got the Magic” campaign too. And the Swiffer commercials where everyone who ever uses a Swiffer is female and they’re all ecstatic about cleaning the floor. I hate pretty much all the ads for household cleaning products as they’re all the same this way. As if no man has ever successfully cleaned anything. If “dad” ever does the laundry, he just fucks it up and floods the laundry room and makes the whites pink.
    BTW, if you’re going to boycott Clorox, you have to boycott Armor All and STP auto care products; Fresh Step and Scoop Away cat litters; Hidden Valley, Kitchen Bouquet, and K C Masterpiece dressings and sauces; Brita water filtration systems; Glad bags; Formula 409, Liquid-Plumr; Pine-Sol, Tilex; S.O.S pads; and Kingsford and Matchlight briquettes and fluids.
    I would also like to see ads for automotive and other “traditionally male” products that featured women. And not in a pink fluffy, “girls can polish their dashboards too!” empowerful way.

  15. Queen_Nerd
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    This commercial always pissed me the fuck off. First, it’s offensive to women who’ve been doing the housework for thousands of years because it’s “their place.” It’s also offensive to the men who’ve been doing housework while their wives were occupied elsewhere.

  16. bailey_comus
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    my ‘favorite’ is the Tysons Chicken one where the kids stand up and ‘testify’ to how wonderful their mom is using said chicken. The two kids and the dad are sitting at the breakfast bar and mom is serving them dinner. There is NO place set for her. i guess mom doesn’t rate getting to sit down and eat with the rest of the family.
    another version of this advertisement has the dad proudly admitting that when mom is away the kids eat frozen waffles.
    if a woman had said such a thing, she’d be a bad mom and personally responsible for the ‘obesity epidemic’, but its suposed to be engaging b/c it comes from the paterfamilias.
    gack.

  17. Voila
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if they still have them, but Bounty paper towels used to have a commercial featuring a man that cleaned, using paper towels of course. I realize that part of the appeal of those commercials was “oh, look, big burly man is cleaning, how sexy”, but at least it featured a man cleaning, willingly and well.

  18. Posted August 27, 2007 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    my ‘favorite’ is the Tysons Chicken one where the kids stand up and ‘testify’ to how wonderful their mom is using said chicken. The two kids and the dad are sitting at the breakfast bar and mom is serving them dinner. There is NO place set for her. i guess mom doesn’t rate getting to sit down and eat with the rest of the family.
    I think I know the commercial you’re talking about, but I didn’t notice that there was no place setting for her. The commercial was for “Trimmed and Ready” Tyson products. At first I thought, how nice that she’s actually getting some recognition for, you know, making sure the family doesn’t fucking starve. But then it ends with the voice over saying something like “Oh, we know this will never happen to you!” Hahaha!

  19. micheyd
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    if a woman had said such a thing, she’d be a bad mom and personally responsible for the ‘obesity epidemic’, but its suposed to be engaging b/c it comes from the paterfamilias.
    Gah! That annoys me so much too! Men are supposed to be bumbling idiots slash bad influences, and women are supposed to be morally upright in every way. Like either is realistic at all…

  20. Voila
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    In my previous post, Bounty should be Brawny.

  21. Shadowen
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    The worst offender–IMHO–is KFC’s “Give Mom the night off!” commercials, which piss me off on two levels.
    1) The obvious. Give Mom the night off?
    2) The subtle. In the commercial, the women in question throw their cooking utensils out the window. But they’re only being given the night off, so they’ll have to go out there and get them back. Aren’t moms stupid?
    3) They are not just confined to Spike TV, though Spike has them on more than any other channel. (I mention this because frankly I expect such retarded advertising on their channel.) And, I have also seen this motto on the KFC mere blocks away from my house, so it’s not restricted to the US, either.
    I guess it’s the BK for me when I want fast food. And I’m not complaining; it’s close enough that I can walk without even the mildest bit of “But I’m lazy!”, so I can burn off some of those two billion calories I just ingested.

  22. Shadowen
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Hell, three levels, even.

  23. Posted August 27, 2007 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, I think the real tack these KFC ads should take, if they want to focus on the disproportionate burden women have to shoulder around the house, would be “Feeling unappreciated? Serve KFC and no one will complain about the quality of your cooking for months!” (Especially if you serve their atrocious “bowls”, which essentially simulate eating out of an overheated garbage can)

  24. Shadowen
    Posted August 27, 2007 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I dunno. I still like the Big Crunch. Especially dipped in gravy. Mmm…fattening.
    But I’m on strike. No more killing myself with triple-fried chicken-and-bacon-and-gravy. Nope!

  25. Mina
    Posted August 28, 2007 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    “I don’t know if they still have them, but Bounty paper towels used to have a commercial featuring a man that cleaned, using paper towels of course. I realize that part of the appeal of those commercials was ‘oh, look, big burly man is cleaning, how sexy’, but at least it featured a man cleaning, willingly and well.”
    That reminds me of Mr. Clean, but I only vaguely remember those ads.

  26. keric125
    Posted August 28, 2007 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Had to throw my two cents in for commercials I most hate: there is a cleaning detergent commercial (can’t remember which one, so I guess it wasn’t very effective!) where two little boys are out jumping around, being active, and getting dirty. Cut to mom, smiling indulgently while she looks at the dirty clothing, then pan back to show little girl smiling indulgently alongside mom. What the f*ck? Boys play, girls clean? Yeah, that’s the message I want my son to have.

  27. EinGrundZurPanik
    Posted August 28, 2007 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    My roommate was always a little amused/annoyed when I screamed at the TV during that commerical: “THAT’S EXACTLY THE PROBLEM! AREN’T THERE SOME OLDER KIDS OR A HUSBAND TO HELP?” Really… I don’t see how they think women would find that commercial appealing. It doesn’t make me think back to the good old days and how we’ve always used that poison to whiten our shirts, it just reminds me that women have constantly and unfairly been designated as the laundry person for a whole family of people.
    I think these laundry detergent companies should start showing family members doing laundry together; that way we not only get rid of the mother-as-the-domestic-laborer image, we also get a picture of family togetherness and cooperation. My parents have always emphasized how it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the house clean.
    Also, a sidenote: Is anyone else freaked out at how people are always huffing Febreeze in the commercials? Maybe I’m more sensitive to those images with my plethora of nasal allergies, but it just doesn’t seem right to dramatically inhale freshly-sprayed chemicals, especially with all that news out about how chemicals could be causing all the AD/HD and asthma we’re seeing in children.

  28. Miko Monkey
    Posted August 28, 2007 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    haha, I love the “even a man or two” comment: “they all did laundry…even a man or two!” makes all the mothers & grandmothers sound much less stodgy than just laundry-doing fembots

  29. Posted August 28, 2007 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    That reminds me of Mr. Clean, but I only vaguely remember those ads.
    There’s a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser ad that has both genders of different ages cleaning, which is pretty cool.

  30. Silenced Is Foo
    Posted August 30, 2007 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    glennsacks.com just linked to you. His opinion is that you’re pulling out the old “ohh, women of yesteryear were so oppressed” while forgetting how, when grandma was doing the laundry, grandpa was off dying in a war, or contracting black lung in a mine, or any other of the numerous lethal professions that a working-class man was expected to break his back in.
    At any rate, these ads are destructive to anyone. To me, the tone was one of PRIDE at being a housewife, about how only women truly understand the laundry. The “maybe even a man or two” seemed to be with a snicker about how the laundry is some sort of exclusive club for women, and how men are too lazy and stupid to figure it out.
    Which is a disgusting attitude aboute everyone, I think we all agree.

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