At first, when I found out that Barb Rechterman was behind these advertisements, my brain began to go on the attack. But my thoughts were different than they are when a man commits a sexist act. I was even more outraged.
As feminists, we hope that women who make their way to male dominated careers will help to change sexist practices associated with those careers. We hope that when women are in powerful advertising positions that they will try to make it a less harmful industry to women. We hope that women in advertising don’t fall into the same routine that male advertising executives have been falling into for decades: objectifying women and adhering to traditional gender roles to make their company money.
But should a woman, such as Barb Rechterman, fall into this routine, let’s not criticize her for being a sexist woman. Let’s criticize her for being a sexist person.
If we see her as a woman first and an executive VP and chief marketing officer second, we, as feminists, are not practicing what we preach. Why is it shocking that a woman, who’s job it is to market her company effectively, would objectify women in her commercials? Objectifying women in advertising has proven to be effective! And that was exactly what Rechterman’s response was in an interview with Forbes:
“Whether you loved it or hated it, it’s a memorable spot, and that spot, by the way, helped us achieve our best sales day ever, the Monday after the Super Bowl. We’ve been in business since 1997, and we’ve done nine years’ of Super Bowl ads, so for us to have our best sales day ever, that’s saying a lot.”
Rechterman just did what advertising men have been doing for as long as advertising has existed. So let’s not give her any preferential treatment. Let’s keep our heads down and continue to fight sexist advertising, no matter who is behind it.