The Presence of Sexism & Homophobia/Heterosexism By, Hamiza hayee

1- Sexism in an ad:

As you can see in the following advertisement, The company of Swiffer has taken a timeless ad of Rosie the Riveter, and used her to reinforce the stereotype of the women's job being to do the cleaning. The first ad occurred in a very important time for women in history during WWII when women began working as the men went overseas to fight. To use this ad and turn into what they did was very disrespectful to the progress that women rights have made and took it back many steps. In the Swiffer ad, they made a new version of Rosie in which they transformed a woman getting ready for work, showing off her biceps as strength and power to a new Rosie who is showing off her strength by holding a Swiffer for household chores. This advertisement shows not only the sexist stereotypes that exist in our society but how by this reinforcement, it is very possible for us to go back instead of progressing forward with gender equailty and women rights. It is good to know that Swiffer has since appologized for this act on their twitter page saying, "our core value is to make cleaning easier, no mtter who's behind the handle. We apologize and working hard to remove the image."

2- Homophobia in an ad

The following advertisement is for the margarine brand of Flora. The little text to the left says, "Uhh, dad I'm gay," while the text at the bottom right reads "you need a strong heart today" promoting their margarine brand which is said to be a heart-healthy alternative choice rather than having butter. This is an extremely offensive and homophobic advertisement as it is saying that having your child come out to you as gay is as bad as having a heart problem. This normalizes the idea of the popular opinions many unfortunately have against homosexuals and turns it into a sort of humour topic as well, which is very offensive; it also causes an increase of people thinking it's okay to make such jokes or to have such homophobic opinions. The company has since said it was made by an external agency in South Africa and that they didn't see the ad before running it and will stop its run now. They should be more careful as it is already out there and may have affected many people.

3- Sexism in music videos

A very popular music video that shows examples of sexism is by Britney Spears of her song Womanizer. While she tries to portray the women in this video as strong, powerful, and independent women, she ends up doing just the opposite. The women she portrays are, as usual, overly sexualized; whether they're in the kitchen, at work, they are dressed provocatively and trying to get the attention of the man. Another stereotype it reinforces is the jobs that the women do; they were all either in the kitchen, a secretary, or a waitress, all of which are stereotypical to be a "woman's" job. This music video is not just sexist towards women but also towards men, portraying them as sex-crazed and easily seduced. It reinforces the myths of men's masculinity being described by always wanting and never saying no to sex. A common misconception which this video ignores as well is that rape culture does not exist towards men, which it most certainly does. When Britney Spears is involved in the aggressive sexual advances towards the man, the man is supposed to like this due to the stereotype that men don't say no. Both genders have the same rights of consent and this video reinforces the thought that men will always want it. This is what also causes many men to not come out about sexual assaults done on them since it is not seen as "normal".

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From birth, we are presented with expectations to conform to all of society’s rules and stereotypes. One of the most influential would definitely be gender stereotypes, which ultimately lead to a society of sexist ideas and norms. These norms vary from culture to culture, while in some countries men holding hands or men wearing kilts are seen as masculine and friendly gestures, in other places doing both would likely cause a homophobic attack. Due to this, I believe sexism and homophobia many times go hand in hand; one tends to almost always affect the other. An example of this can be seen in the following comic, which shows heterosexism and sexism being acted on together. The heterosexual man finds it completely normal to sexualize the woman ahead but has a homophobic attack if the man behind just looks at him.

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To focus on one of these “isms” for now, sexism is one that is continuously occurring everywhere in the world today. One of the major things in today’s society is the glass ceiling, in which a woman earns 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. Some reasons to justify this is due to the fact that women take maternity leave, which is discriminatory as men also take paternity leave, and it is not safe to judge that every woman will have a child. Another example is one that relates to the picture above as well. When doing the simplest of things such as shopping for Halloween costumes, boys always have creative, fun, and scary costumes, whereas a girl’s is always given the “sexy” costume, from cats to nurses, confining the women’s choices. Sexism is also not just for women, it is seen with men as well, however due to the expectation that a man will never be emotional, they are rarely spoken of. Men are always seen as sex-crazed and controlling, as seen in the Britney Spears music video above as well. They are not expected to say no, which is one of the reasons many sexual assault cases on men are never recorded. A sex is what you are born as but identity is developed and varies with each individual, but unfortunately we still categorize the separate genders and too many are being forced to conform to society’s expectations everyday. In conclusion, if the examples of the music video and ads shown above are looked at again and instead of a man, woman, or homosexual, they were all harassing a person of colour, it would seem more harsh. However due to the normalization of such sexist and homophobic acts in society, many of these offensive ads don’t affect people as much. No matter the colour, the sex, or the identity, a human is a human and our societies have done their best to trap us in separate boxes, however it is our choice to get out and end the cycle.

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