Today we started talking about media and the way it influences the way we view women. I was reminded of the commercials for Five Hour Energy that I’ve been seeing on TV recently (links attached at the bottom). The theme for these commercials is “What Did You Do the Last Five Hours?” and is working under the premise that after taking Five Hour Energy, an individual is now capable of doing great things. In the first one, a man explains that he spent the last five hours writing a book, teaching himself how to speak Spanish, running ten miles and jumping out of an airplane, among other things. In another one with the same man, he disproves the Theory of Relativity, breaks a hacky sack record, swims the English Channel and finds Big Foot.
In the next commercial, a woman is shown at home with her daughter. After taking Five Hour Energy, the “crazy things” she is now able to do include making a sandwich for her child, cleaning the house, putting a band-aid on her daughter, vacuuming the house, changing a diaper, and again cleaning the house. What makes it worse is not only is she shown doing these things, but she is narrating herself by saying that through doing these things, she became a dietitian, a housekeeper, a pediatrician, and a “sanitation engineer.”
There are many reasons these two commercials confirm stereotypes and are just offensive to me in general. First of all, the man in this commercial is portrayed having exciting adventures that are out of the ordinary. For the woman’s commercial, her crazy adventures consist of staying at home: cleaning, cooking, and taking care of her child. There also seems to be a theme of either intellect (writing a book, disproving a theory) or physical activity (running, swimming) surrounding the activities the man is taking part in. However, the only theme for the woman’s “adventures,” is either taking care of her child or taking care of the house. The man has the chance to learn another language and read which would help him succeed in the real world. But the narration given by the woman makes it seem like she couldn’t really be a dietitian or a pediatrician, but has to pretend she is these things while she’s home, as a child would. In reality, many women do work. In fact, they work AND do a lot of the housework. These commercials, paired together, make it seem like women have made no progress over the last fifty years, and that a woman’s only superpower is how good she is in the home.