Who Can Spot the Sexism?

31 May

I WAS walking through LaGuardia last night, anxious to return home after a long weekend visiting friends, when I saw this HSBC advert by the escalator.

HSBC advertisement

You’ve probably seen different versions of this ad campaign at U.S. airports, cleverly reassuring you that the banking behemoth will be sensitive to your culture/point of view/whatever. But this one stunned me with its message: for a child, it is an accomplishment to tie shoelaces, for a man, it’s a voyage in outer space, but for a woman, all it takes is a prize at a beauty pageant!!

Not to mention the accompanying text at the right, which says, “The more you look at the world, the more you recognise what really matters to people.” Way to insult all the women in the world, HSBC.

If I were compiling a list of offensive ad campaigns, this one would be featured prominently. Right next to this Dos Equis one I wrote about here.

2 Responses to “Who Can Spot the Sexism?”

  1. Dora 7 July 2011 at 4:11 PM #

    how do u know the suited up astronaut is male/female? such assumptions are made by a gendered-mind looking for an outlet

    • Jayati Vora 7 July 2011 at 4:36 PM #

      Hi Dora,

      Thanks for your comment. I would love to believe that the astronaut is a man. But given the advertising industry’s reliance on stereotyping, I find that difficult to accept. Plus, given that there are three images, and one is a woman, and the second is a child, I would imagine that the third one was meant to be a man. Not to mention the fact that we encounter all sorts of sexism in ads everywhere — most obviously, the sexy (and often scantily clad) women being used to sell everything from cars to deodorant to toothpaste. Men are also stereotyped in all sorts of sexist ways: the macho man, the guy who’s only interested in getting women, etc. Given that context, I simply cannot believe that the astronaut was intended to be a woman.


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