Tide Knows Dad Better Than He Knows Himself

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgpGlzsx2rk

This is a new Tide detergent commercial showing how Tide undermines Dad’s attempt to control his daughter’s sexuality. Dad is a central character in the ad, and all the action revolves around him. But the ad is not targeted at fathers. Women still do most of the family shopping, so we should read the ad as addressing moms. The commercial’s imagery does not break any new ground. Dad, wearing flannel, fixes a rusty latch on a gate with an oil can. He needs to wipe the grime from his hands, and comes across his daughters skirt on the clothesline. Disapprovingly, he snatches it off the line, wipes his hands with it, and cavalierly tosses it into the hamper on his way back into the house. As Dad reads the paper, Daughter discovers the soiled skirt at the bottom of the hamper, and brings it to Mom. Mom is surprised at its filth, and turns knowingly in Dad’s direction. Tide to the rescue, and the skirt is saved. Cut to Dad’s shocked face as Daughter strolls past wearing the skirt he thought he ruined. She presents herself to Mom, who nods approvingly, then Daughter gives Dad’s hair a friendly tussle and she’s out the door.

Seems innocent enough, just the latest in a long history of commercials that get a laugh at the expense of old white Dad. In the commercial, Dad is coded as hard-working, traditional, old-fashioned kind of guy. He wears flannel and a white T-shirt, works with his hands, and has some grey at his temples. Daughter is a pretty standard innocent teenager , and Mom is the savvy problem-solving homemaker.

Tide believes this commercial will work by presenting us with a humorous story about old-fashioned Dad that the women watching will consider amusing, causing them to recall the brand fondly the next time they are at the store. But jokes are funny because they have an element of truth to them.

In the beginning of the commercial, Dad is fixing a gate. The act is symbolic. He is protecting his household and family. And he believes he is doing the same thing when he yanks the skirt off the clothesline and wipes the filth off his hands with it. He (believes) he is protecting his daughter from unknowingly sexualizing and objectifying herself by wearing such a revealing skirt.

He is doing the same thing in both instances–protecting. This act of protecting codes this character as a certain kind of Dad-the kind who sees his role as father to be to protect her sexuality from herself. His reaction at the end of the commercial is not one of anger or outrage at his daughter for wearing the skirt or the mother for allowing it, he expresses surprise and shock that his efforts were thwarted. That the skirt bypassed his gate.

The commercial is supposed to be amusing because it accurately portrays something we are not comfortable discussing without humor: the desire of fathers to protect their daughters sexuality. Their need to control it and control access to it. This is common in advertising. Here’s T-Mobile, on the latter:

In America, many dads see themselves as gatekeepers of their daughter’s sexuality. They protect it. And that’s how they see this aspect of her identity and personality, as an “it”. To them, it is valuable, it is precious, and if they (Dad in this commercial) don’t intervene, the dumb girl will give it away or diminish its value. As we’ve seen before, a young girl’s sexuality is a valuable asset to be protected lest she throw it away.. Dad is enforcing what he believes are society’s sexual mores. How many times have you heard fathers attempt to defend this behavior by explaining that they “know how guys think.” So for the commercial to work on moms, it means there are Dads out there in the real world who think the exact same way. Maybe it is their husbands. Maybe it was their father when they were growing up. But it’s common. By and large, American dads think it’s their job to set the rules and enforce them.

This isn’t some retrograde image of fatherhood from the 1950’s that these advertisers are dredging up for cheap laughs. This idea of fatherhood is alive and well in in the Millennials. Comments on the Tide video range from the conservatively predictable to the certifiably insane. The most popular comment at the time of this writing applauds Dad’s attempts “to stop his daughter from becoming a neighborhood door-knob [but] is foiled by mom, who seems to approve of her daughter dressing like a slut.” The second most popular defends the Dad who just “wants to keep his daughter from being an STD rattled slut.” Are you spotting a trend? In fact, the word “slut” appears 30 times in the 326 comments to that video. But cheer up, feminists, the word “whore” only appears 10 times. Progress!

Now, you can say that YouTube comments are the sewer of the internet–and you’d be right–but at times like these I like to think of them as the voice of America’s collective superego. The fact that the YouTube superego is a staunch advocate for Dad is not an accident. The commercial was written to play to this sensibility in most fathers and to it’s corollary in childless men–misogynistic judgment.

Notice the commercial has three principal characters: Dad, Daughter, Mom. Dad is the superego. He sets the rules and mans the family’s gates literally and figuratively. Daughter is the id; she is all drive, fun, and pleasure. The ad shows her having an innocent sexual drive represented as the desire to wear what we are supposed to think is a short skirt (based on Dad’s reaction) and giving Dad a playful pat on the head. The mom is the ego, mediating between the two and finding a way through.

The Freudian triumverate is a staple of American television commercials. Advertisers rely on it overtly to as seen in the Tide ad, but also implicitly as seen in the T-Mobile ad. They use the Freudian model because it works. And it works because it is an accurate model of the dynamic in huge percentage of families. In this particular instance, the Freudian model works because it effectively communicates a real anxiety in American fathers. Most American men have not been able to reconcile their objectification of women in culture, advertising, and everywhere else with the reality of their daughters becoming women. The objectification is so deeply programmed in American men that to engage a woman without it becomes a source of anxiety. These men attempt to resolve that anxiety through over-protectiveness and over-involvement in their daughter’s sexuality, and it comes off as comical to moms. (Moms have their own anxiety typically expressed passive aggressively, rather than authoritatively).

This is a generalization, of course, and not all Dads or families are like this. But enough of them are that one of the largest and most profitable consumer products companies is willing to bet one of their oldest and best-selling brands on it.

But not all advertisers approach the Dad-Daughter dynamic in such a Freudian and dysfunctional way. Consider this ad from Subaru:

Related posts:

  1. WSJ to Women: Only Have Sex With Winners

142 Responses to Tide Knows Dad Better Than He Knows Himself

  1. stellachiara says:

    In which cultures do fathers NOT try to act as gatekeepers to their daughter’s sexuality? I don’t see how this is particularly American or particularly derived from American objectification of women. If it’s Europeans that don’t try to gatekeep their daughter’s sexuality, how do you square that with the endless stream of bare boobs on magazine covers in every shop? Are those women being seen as subjects?

    • towle says:

      Seriously? Wovon mann nicht sprechen kann. C’mon.

      The author is American, so he’s talking about Americans because he knows about Americans. For him to say that American dads to this and that does not imply that he believes the opposite to be true elsewhere. It implies that er kann nicht davon sprechen.

      • Nick Danger says:

        Come on, the author never, ever talks about human beings in general? He must also be from a state. Why doesn’t he say “California dads do this.” Stellachiara was exactly right.

  2. nohope says:

    The other message this ad sends is that parents are no longer a unified force. The family is no longer a unit. All are independent individuals, ostensibly pursuing free-market-style self-interest. The father has no authority over his children because the mother cannot be expected to obey him anymore, despite her own reservations (not that this is necessarily bad in the grand scheme of things).

    This divide-and-conquer mentality is all over pop culture and advertising: men and women, even when romantically linked, are portrayed as adversarial. “Guys’ night in” vs. “Girls’ night out,” etc. This is an adolescent mentality (“no girls allowed in the treehouse,” “boys have cooties,”). To perpetuate this adolescent mentality is to make better consumers.

    Love is an enemy of consumerism. The forces of consumerism do their best to undermine and jeer at the concept of love.

    • boeotarch says:

      Considering the pre-commercial “unity” was almost universally achieved through patriarchy, this may be a case of commercialism being on the right side, if for the wrong reasons. Houses may be more divided but that’s an unavoidable consequence of the dad not being able to slap everybody around anymore.

      • FrederickMercury says:

        i would disagree that “commercialism” is on the “right side”.

        and why does having the father officially in charge of the family immediately lead to violence, in your mind?

      • George says:

        Patriarchy produced a stable society that most men could join in because women were forced to be monogamous and thus most men could find a wife. Patriarchy is what a society looks like when it is functioning well. The undermining of patriarchy has been to the detriment of all of us who would like to see a stable and functional society.

        • philtrum says:

          “Patriarchy produced a stable society that most men could join in because women were forced to be monogamous and thus most men could find a wife.”

          Interesting: not a stable society that most women could join in (who cares, amirite) because men were forced to be monogamous (shudder!) and thus most women could find a husband.

          In fact you don’t mention a single thing that would make that state of affairs appealing for women. Oh, I’m sure you’ll come back with a list of reasons women were better off, but interesting that your initial defense of patriarchy is all about its benefits for men.

          • philtrum says:

            Interesting, also, that “joining society” = “getting married.” Why?

          • Rebecca says:

            The idea of “appealing for women” is a relatively new thing. It has little to no bearing on the evolution of our species (or our culture). The present society, which places more emphasis on the considerations of the gentler sex, is a novel experiment.

            “thus most women could find a husband.”

            Women have always been a commodity. There are a lot of us, and we have a limited output capacity. In the history of our species, most women reproduced, but very few men did (I’ve read figures from as low as 25% to as high as 60%). It’s illogical to infer there was a point where it was difficult for women, as a collective, to find a husband.

            However, the ideal as a father as a gatekeeper is also fairly novel. In most traditional societies, a mother’s opinion on a potential mate has more sway than the father’s. Of course, the father had input, but the mother was really the one who preserved her daughter’s integrity.

          • philtrum says:

            Yeah, I get that women’s preferences didn’t count for much, but George is positing patriarchy as something everyone should support, but gives women no actual reason to do so. I find this interesting, given that women are educated, enfranchised, etc., in this society. What woman is going to support a system in which she herself has no choices? Besides Ann Coulter in one of her periodic pleas for attention?

          • Rebecca says:

            Yeah, I get that women’s preferences didn’t count for much, but George is positing patriarchy as something everyone should support, but gives women no actual reason to do so. I find this interesting, given that women are educated, enfranchised, etc., in this society.

            And there’s still some debate (valid or not) that “this society” isn’t truly functional. Assuming George’s stance (“The undermining of patriarchy has been to the detriment of all of us”), it stands to reason that patriarchy is something to be embraced, doesn’t it? Put another way, the argument is a stable society requires patriarchy. And, right there, you have your incentive to women. Women tend to crave stability and safety, since it gives our children a better chance for survival.

            What woman is going to support a system in which she herself has no choices? Besides Ann Coulter in one of her periodic pleas for attention?

            Patriarchy being equivalent to a woman having no choices is as false a dichotomy as George claiming a stability necessitates patriarchy. The system doesn’t have to express itself as highly repressive Sharia law, or auctioning daughters off to the highest bidder.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            Women never had to worry about finding a husband in traditional society.

            Before women were allowed “freedom”, before mass media existed and encouraged women to be sexually liberal, before the invention of easy access pornography… no woman ever had to worry about finding a male partner.

            Monogomy did not benefit women. In fact it may have hurt women, because in a monogomous society some women inevitably have to settle for lower quality men who are poor providers (in a polygynous society, the one winner can have multiple women and horde wealth for himself which he can share with his women). Monogomy benefitted loser males because all of a sudden ALL MEN now had sexual access *and* sexual exclusivity. THis was previously only possible for winners.

            This is why religions which were championed by the losers and freaks (such as Christianity) were big on monogamy. A major selling point of these religions to the loser men was a promise of sexual access + exclusivity.

            Women do NOT benefit from monogamy. Low quality men do.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            Rebecca said it.

            I would clarify when I say “traditional society” I am speaking of a hunter-gatherer social structure of the sort that shaped the evolution of humanity. Monogamy simply did not exist then, a few men fathered a disproportionate amount of the children. Men struggle fight and take risks to compete for women. The winners of all this male-originated conflict are barometers of genetic fitness, which are then selected (or not given a choice) by women to father their few children. It’s a brilliant system. The winners are granted genetic immortality in children, the losers have few if any offspring and their genes die out.

            Then comes monogamy and the traditional human social/reproductive systems get turned upside down. Men have less of an incentive to make war and fight because they pair up with one woman FOR-EV-AH. By the time their wife begins to lose reproductive value (30+) he is also losing reproductive potency (testosterone declining) and his urge to fight to fuck has fallen to the wayside. This is also a brilliant system, if your goal is a socially stable society with little progress or change.

            Patriarchy… just doesn’t even figure in. Patriarchy is more relevant to the reproductive natures of men and women. High investment = low risk taking, just as in finance and gambling, the more you have at stake the less likely you are to manic out and be all ‘I BET EVERYTHING LETS JUMP OFF A CLIFF GRAAAH”. Men are cliff jumpers because all they are is sperm and nothing more, so the biology of a man encourages him to fertilize what he can even if his body may perish in the process. It doesn’t matter if he was able to have a trillion kids before he died at 38.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          False. I’ll fix it for you.

          MONOGOMY produced a stable society which most men could join in (without fighting/killing each other) because there were women for every man now. In the previous structure, one man could reproduce with multiple women, in effect crowding out the other men from sexual access. This promotes conflict and instability as men will fight for sex.

          Patriarchy has nothing to do with sexual access. Patriarchy merely reflects the reproductive strategies of men and women. Women have a high investment in their offspring (fetus in the womb for 9 months followed by years and years of rearing). Men have a very low investment (some sperm). As a result of these differences, men had a whole lot of left over time to do other things besides take care of children/be pregnant. Also, since men are not necessary after conception, they were a lot more disposable and from a genetic perspective may even benefit from risky behavior (whereas women never benefit from risky behavior because the survival of the mother is vital to the success of her genes – without her, or her sisters, the child almost certainly dies).

          These different reproductive strategies are reflected in the neuroanatomical differences between men and women. Men take more risks and are more inclined to go against the grain and be leaders.

          These biologically real brain differences between men and women result in the fictitious social structure known as “patriarchy”.

          The mistake people make is assuming that patriarchy is some arbitrary thing that can be changed like the color of your shirt, that is is waht we do because its what we’ve always done and there is no biological basis for it (men in leadership positions and changemakers traditionally with women as peacekeepers/encouraging stability/discouraging rest). There certainly are socially constructed elements (such as women not being allowed to vote in the past) but most of it is absolutely biological.

          You will never, ever find a society where women make the decisions and rule and are in control and set the pace while men sit around being like “god damn matriarchy”. The reason that is, is because we are all human, and men and women are the same the world over. Prenatal / postnatal testosterone and estrogen is the same in all human beings all over the world, affects the development of the mind similarly… it makes it impossible for a truly matriarchal society to exist, or even a truly equal society. On average men will be more inclined to take risks and challenge people and lead, women will be more inclined to make peace and not confront people and keep things peaceful/stable. Men and women behave this way because of how their brain functions as a result of sex steroids before and after birth.

          • Neex says:

            Anonymousatlarge— Do you think there is any way we can as human beings rise above biological imperatives to have compassion for each other and other living beings? While we are talking theory here, your theories certainly make sense to me, although I think monogamys sweet and I don’t really want to be stuck with 7 women and one guy just to get his money—

            I tend to think in these terms as well, but I also always find myself having a hope that somewhere there is perhaps something more. Why did atoms start protecting RNA? It’s actually very unusual compared to what is observed in non living atoms. Could there be actual, real love in the universe? I don’t know, it may be unlikely, but I am inclined to hope anyway. I hope that men and women and human beings can care about each other despite that many of our motives and our understanding of love itself exist within genetic imperatives.

            We don’t know everything about genes at all. In fact we are discovering there are likely OTHER DIMENSIONS. This universe is pretty far out and pressuming that science (our human understanding of the world) is accurate is probably as much a misperception as believing there is a Dude standing way up high in the clouds somewhere who made the whole universe. (But who made the OTHER universi?)

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            Given modern society is designed for monogamous living, it is impossible to imagine polygyny as being a positive thing. Most women are incapable of conceiving of such a social structure, their brain defaults to an assumption of neglect and infidelity, as this is the consequence for a woman in modern society when their men go to other women. In reality polygyny works out better than does monogomy when all other things are equal. In a polygynous society, it is impossible to end up stranded and pregnant at 15 when you were manipulated by a 30 year old man into having sex with him… it is impossible to be divorced and abandoned by your shitty husband and alone when you lose your reproductive value at 40. When few men have any access to all the women, competition for sex is heated, which means they won’t be hitting and quitting it or dumping their old model for a new one.
            A polygynous society means it is 100% guaranteed that women will always be protected and their children will be taken care of. The women stick together, get pregnant, and raise all the children. The men do the hunting/providing and protecting. The young girls have the most reproductive value to men (and are giving birth), the older women have the most maternal value as child-rearers. Women outlive men because older women are useful, older men are not so much. Grandmom knows a lot about how to raise a baby but what does grandpa do in so far as hunting?
            In reality it is actually a much better society for women (at least when times are stable). The way things are now promotes more exploitation and rape and using of women. Today a man can trick a young girl into having sex with him, without protection, and simply skip out when she ends up pregnant. There’s no social structure forcing him to commit or provide. There’s no competition for women. In a polygynous society where women team up together and only give sex to very few men, men have a whole lot of incentive to fight and earn that sex and that means being a provider and a protector. It’s too easy for the poor providers to have women, everyone loses.

            But really that’s just a tangent… such a social structure could never work in modern society, in many ways the nature of our sprawling cities originate from two shifts in human behavior: 1) agriculture and 2) monogamy. Both of these practices allowed for human societies to explode in number, allowing for highly specialized jobs and skills. With less fighting (due to monogomy) and more food (due to agriculture) human societies changed from small hunter-gatherer bands into massive hive like structures with thousands of people . There are so many people in “society” now that our natural polygynous social structure is impractical and impossible.

            I don’t believe in love and I view it as a trick of the brain, similar to pain or pleasure. I don’t think love is any more evolved than other emotions or feelings, it only feels that way. Much like in mania one feels grandiose, someone who feels love has similar illusions of oneness and being high or of having some kind of insight into their future…which are mostly delusional feelings and later burn out, just like any mania does. It’s interesting that the symptoms of “love” are redundant with hypomania.
            I don’t think we should aspire to love, since love is delusional and illogical and a trick of the mind. We should aspire to understanding and fairness. Fairness allows for both compassion as well as firmness and reality. Don’t do to anyone what you would not do to yourself. This requires no love or even care for others, all it requires is a desire to live your life in a fair way, with morality. I would rather live my life in a fair way, because being ruled by love and empathy turns you into a doormat who is easily exploited and used by others (I see this eeevery day in my line of work, which attracts the empathetic who operate from an others-feelings motivation).

          • Fifi says:

            “I don’t believe in love and I view it as a trick of the brain, similar to pain or pleasure. I don’t think love is any more evolved than other emotions or feelings, it only feels that way.”

            All experience is a “trick of the brain”, including experiencing oneself as being “rational” – if you’re going to negate “tricks of the brain” you’re negating all of experience. What do you mean by “love”? There are a variety of experiences that get labeled as “love” – they range from infatuation to parent-child bonding and in-group bonding to simply the experiences we label as “love” when we feel good and connected (this can includes the experience often labeled “agape love”). There’s also the idea that love is an action towards others and not just a feeling we have. Then there are the social constructs that we label “love”. Not “believing” in love doesn’t negate the fact that people feel connected and pleasantly bonded to each other (whether you have that experience or not) and value this as part of being human. Whether you believe in it or not, it’s part of the human experience for most people and that believing oneself to be “rational” doesn’t actually mean you’re not emotionally invested in that belief or that emotions don’t play into your (or my) rationalizations.

          • Nick Danger says:

            “I don’t think we should aspire to love, since love is delusional and illogical and a trick of the mind.”

            I don’t think you should aspire to write, as the idea that you have sensible things to say is delusional and illogical and a trick of the mind.

  3. Note also how daughter looks a lot like the younger version of mom,, which, while genetically accurate is also a message: you were like this once, too. Let it go.

    I wonder how much the women watching this ad empathize with the mom (or daughter), or whether many/most? of the women see this whole play not as a struggle against id, but as an idealized fantasy itself: I wish I had a husband/father who was this involved that would be even notice what his daughter wore out.

    Or, in the vernacular of the sitcoms this ad inevitably plays within: “I wish I didn’t always have to be the bad guy.”

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      While I am not an accurate representation of an average woman because I am a weirdo, I felt repulsed by this commercial.

      My first thought was “oh great, another commercial which stomps on the barely breathing corpse of the american family.”
      Hahaha look at that dad try to be a positive influence in his daughters life, what a chump. Stupid old white dad, don’t you know the coolest thing today is to allow your daughter to strut down the block half naked just like that 11 year old kid on youtube did?

      I felt a mixture of anger and sadness (and then puzzlement why I even care when I hate people so much).

      My second thought was how corny and ridiculous was this commercial. What mother would approve of her daughter sexualizing herself? Perhaps a scratch-off playing chain smoking welfare mom 14 years older than her teen daughter might high five her, and ask to borrow her thigh high boots and skirt t later that evening … but I think any sane mother (and her get-up suggests she is sane and responsible) would be on board with her husband in preventing her 15 year old from dressing like a ho.

      My next thought was how the media has created this illusion that mothers and fathers are constantly in conflict and can never agree on anything. That’s actually not true; growing up it seemed as if mothers and fathers agreed on most things regarding parenting. This seems to reference back to point 1 (killing the american family, making us easier to control and manipulate and exploit in all ways). That the father is always wrong in these conflicts is merely a subpoint of the larger point (families are broken, especially the males so you might as well buy a lot of mountain dew and move out of home at 17 and take out 50k in student loans).

      • philtrum says:

        Hahaha look at that dad try to be a positive influence in his daughters life

        By trying to destroy things that belong to her?

        Reminds me a little of a story from a Lundy Bancroft book, about an abusive husband who punished his wife by cutting his daughter’s prom dress to shreds.

        There’s a reason dad looks like a chump in this ad, and it’s not just that mum and daughter thwart him; it’s that he doesn’t have enough confidence or integrity to make and enforce rules openly (“you can’t have/wear that”); he’s reduced to sabotage. Why this should be is beyond the scope of the commercial.

        What mother would approve of her daughter sexualizing herself?

        The mother may not see it as “sexualizing” the girl. It’s a skirt, not a merry widow.

        My next thought was how the media has created this illusion that mothers and fathers are constantly in conflict and can never agree on anything.

        Or, more accurately in this case, that mothers and fathers don’t communicate at all. I agree, that’s an interesting illusion.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          Your father has a right to destroy the whorish skirt you bought with his credit card. When you turn 18 and move out of his house, then it would be “destroying your property”. Minors are responsible to their parents, dependent on their parents, and must absolutely respect their parents rules assuming they are reasonable. How old are you? Do you really think a minor with no job and no residence of her own has a right to do whatever she wants? WTF?

          Dad looks like a chump because he is a chump, he is not a man, he cannot control his household (and the primary role of the paternal element is to set the rules and enforce them, or at least be a beacon of respectability that your children and wife will not mock openly). This is typical of the “white dad” stereotype in media, a concentrated effort to destroy whatever is left of the american family.

          • philtrum says:

            Wow, you are hostile today aren’t you?

            Your father has a right to destroy the whorish skirt you bought with his credit card.

            Gosh, you know a lot about these fictional people, don’t you.

            Tell me: if they’re a single-income household, and Mom buys something for herself with the joint credit card, is Dad entitled to destroy that too? Without even talking to her about it? If Dad gives Mom a piece of jewellery for her birthday, can he take that back and pawn it when he’s mad at her?

            When you turn 18 and move out of his house, then it would be “destroying your property”.

            Legally, anything that was given to you is your property, no matter how young or old you are. But I suspect you are not actually interested in law.

            Minors are responsible to their parents, dependent on their parents, and must absolutely respect their parents rules assuming they are reasonable.

            Hey, don’t backtrack now! Dad can do anything he wants without notification or explanation, you said so before!

            How old are you?

            Older than you.

            Do you really think a minor with no job

            Again, how do you know this?

            and no residence of her own has a right to do whatever she wants?

            So because I think parents should actually communicate with their kids and each other about what the rules are and why, I think teenagers should be allowed to do “whatever they want”? Where do you get these absurdities?

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            Not hostile I just find your reply preposterous. I have no children but even I can see that a teenage child doesn’t own anything and should be grateful to her parents for sheltering her and buying her clothing (rather than mocking and ungrateful as this fictional teen seems to be).
            It is implied this girl lives at home and her parents are providing for her. Otherwise, why else would the father feel entitled to behave that way? The narrative of this commercial is not “dad is a controlling psychopath who destroys my property that I work and earn for”, the narrative is “old unhip white dad can’t keep up with his modern daughter and her sexual liberation, he should finance and raise her to be a sexualized girl because it’s cool to be one today” .
            We know that the later is the correct interpretation because it is ubiquitous in the media. If the girl was independent, the former would be the correct interpretation, but that cannot be the correct interpretation because it is insane. This commercial was not directed by Mel Gibson as far as I know.

            You fully know that the dad destroying the mom’s property is so totally not even the same thing because mom is an independent adult. Mom is not a minor who is being raised by the dad, therefore dad destroying anything belonging to mom can be filed under “mel gibson like insanity”. Even if we assume mom is a stay at home mom the dad does not have a right to destroy her possessions because she is an adult, and she is capable of being independent (but rather elects to stay at home so as to raise their children – in effect, this is her job, being a mother, and he compensates her by being a provider). The traditional husband-wife dynamic is not the same as the child-parents dynamic. In a husband-wife dynamic both parties are equally contributing to the family unit, one has more power but only an illusory sort (without wife, husband cannot have a family or children, she contributes and holds power in a different way).
            In the child-parent dynamic, the parent contributes 100% and the child contributes 0%. Children don’t owe their parents anything other than respect and gratitude for their services, otherwise the system turns into exploitation (note: modern society which encourages insolence of children is highly exploitative of parents). Parents give so much for nothing in return, other than the emotional feeling of being a parent and raising your children. WHen children can’t even give that back (because they are too busy pretending to be independent adults on your credit cards sleeping in a bedroom that you own/rent, eating food you bought)… well then things sorta aren’t fair or right any longer are they?
            I think it is more than reasonable for a parent to destroy property of a dependent child assumign that property serves no other purpose but to be disrespectful and obnoxious to the morality of the parent.
            If you don’t like it, you always have the option of moving out, working as a waitress, and renting a shared apartment. No one says you have to stay there with old white dad and his outdated morals, right?

            Why are children entitled to unconditional support financially no matter what fucked up shit they do? Says who? This is why Maury Povich is never short for guests. Kids need to realize they are not entitled to anything at all, parents are under no obligation to pay for your multiple abortions, emergency birth control, or your detox programs. Stop being a little shit and try to live in a decent way. It is training for adulthood.

            The whole point of children returning that respect to their parents is training for being an adult – being productive and living for things other than your impulsive wishes and wants. Having the capacity to work for a living even though it isn’t necessarily fun all the time to go to work. Today no one is really expected to grow up, we are all told we can do whatever we want and we never have to sacrifice or care about anything. So I shouldn’t be surprised we are all supporting the obnoxious brat in the commercial (who likely KNEW how her father would react, and STILL flaunts in his face that she is defying him).

            *I was not backpedaling, I merely through in the “assuming they are reasonable* qualifier because sometimes parents can be batshit insane and molest/rape/beat their kids. This is very rare though as most parents are sane and their rules are something you can deal with at least until you are an adult.

        • Nick Danger says:

          “By trying to destroy things that belong to her?”

          If my daughter brought home a crack pipe, I would destroy it, yes. But true, the father should have openly forbidden the dress, not covertly ruined it.

    • Fifi says:

      The predominant symbol here is of purity it seems to me (which is the theme of almost all detergent ads, whether it’s washing out that damn spot or protecting children from those evil germs that are out to get them). It should also be noted that it’s not the daughter doing her own laundry or the father doing the laundry, mom’s still doing everyone’s laundry and is clearly expected to by both the kid and the dad. Tide, it’ll wash away all your sins and make you (and your family) pure. Granted, white clothes are harder to keep clean so that’s also why they’re used – and lack of dirt is associated with status, as well as purity – but in this particular ad the white/dirt thing seems to be about purity to me (but that could just be my subjective reading of it).

      • philtrum says:

        Interesting, too, that the dad, the only one in the household with prurient thoughts about the white skirt, literally befouls it — to the daughter and the mother, it’s just a skirt; to him (and apparently to many of the commenters here) it obviously signifies her willingness to have sex/be a slut/get raped.

        Reminds me of this ad.

        And the dad is so disempowered or passive-aggressive that he can’t discuss this with the daughter (or the mother); he just tries to wreck her things behind her back.

        • vprime says:

          “Interesting, too, that the dad, the only one in the household with prurient thoughts about the white skirt, literally befouls it — to the daughter and the mother, it’s just a skirt; to him (and apparently to many of the commenters here) it obviously signifies her willingness to have sex/be a slut/get raped.”

          Yes, absolutely. What do you make of the white skirt in light of the Virgin/Whore complex that seems to represent the assumed state of mind of most men? I think it’s ironic that they use a white skirt. Perhaps the father sees his daughter’s sexuality as the “stain” on her otherwise pure existence?
          And I agree, to the women in the ad, the skirt is likely just fashion independent of its sexual signification to the father.

          • philtrum says:

            As Fifi said below, the skirt ends up symbolizing both virginity (white) and sexuality (short, revealing). It’s a manifestation of the daughter’s new identity as attractive teenage girl.

            (And yes, this is a ridiculous amount of depth to read into a laundry soap commercial…but anyway.)

            Perhaps the father sees his daughter’s sexuality as the “stain” on her otherwise pure existence?

            He wouldn’t be the first. Look at how immediately the speculation here goes to worst-case sexual scenarios — she’ll become a filthy STD-ridden ho, the town doorknob, be raped, etc. etc., all because her mother let her wear that skirt.

            Teen sexuality scares the hell out of people.

          • Fifi says:

            Well white is usually what’s used in detergent ads that aren’t about “keeping colours bright”. It’s the default – partly because getting stains out of white is harder (practical but it’s also hard to get stains out of any light colour where they show more), partly because there’s an ongoing symbolic use of white that has to do with being virtuous (meaning being pure but also associated with being a really good housewife).

            While we may all be reading more into the ad than the advertisers intended, that doesn’t mean there aren’t deeper meanings in it that are based upon certain unquestioned assumptions or symbolic meanings that are so common people take them for granted. What one intends and what one actually reveals/communicates are not always the same.

            There is, incidentally, nothing the least bit feminist about the ad. A feminist ad would have the father or daughter doing their own damn laundry ;-)

  4. George says:

    “In America, many dads see themselves as gatekeepers of their daughter’s sexuality. They protect it. And that’s how they see this aspect of her identity and personality, as an “it”. To them, it is valuable, it is precious, and if they (Dad in this commercial) don’t intervene, the dumb girl will give it away or diminish its value.”

    Wrong. Not “in America”, the correct answer is “in nature”. Fathers have a natural desire to protect their daughter’s sexuality because their own genes are on the line here. Both parents have a vested interest in daughter-guarding because when the daughter gets pregnant they know the grandchild will be theirs. If one of their sons comes home saying his girlfriend / wife is pregnant there is less certainty. http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP08586598.pdf

    The idea that a woman’s sexuality can lose its value is not a social construct – it is a product of the natural facts of our humanity. We are boxed in by our biologies and cannot escape the forces driving and controlling us. Because daughters will produce offspring that we *know* will be a genetic descendant their sexuality is more valuable. Because your sons can’t give you the same certainty their sexuality is worth less. Egg is naturally more valuable than sperm, that’s how the natural system we live in is set up.

    As for the “dumb girl will give it away” — well the last 30+ years of feminism has pretty much proven that to be the case. When women are allowed to run around and do whatever they want they will pick short term advantages over long term one and sexy men over responsible men. While this may give them the short term satisfaction of “fun” and sexy sons, it has also produced a civilization that can’t hold families together, and isn’t producing enough children to replace the population. If any species besides humans were doing this the environmentalists would be screaming.

    In two generations you’re going to see the same thing that happened in the black community happen to the white community. An army of single mommies will be supported by the last of the tax payers and men will largely turn to apathy or crime.

    • yossarian says:

      This comment makes me uncomfortable but I can’t figure out where you’re wrong.
      Can somebody with superior logic skills tell me what’s wrong with this comment?
      Also, if these ideas are from a book, please name it.

      • philtrum says:

        Questionable evo-psych theories, for one.

        The game of vulgar evolutionary psychology is to name a trait you find admirable or desirable in modern humans and then invent a reason why humans evolved to express that trait, and why humans who do not express that trait are going against the supreme forces of evolution. I am not sure whether that is meant to imply that everyone will eventually revert back to the behaviour you prefer because nobody has any free will, or that people who don’t do what you like will eventually die off. I’m sure it’s a great comfort regardless.

        When women are allowed to run around and do whatever they want they will pick short term advantages over long term one and sexy men over responsible men.

        Gross generalization, not to mention, how is this unlike what lots of men do?

        Also, are there no sexy responsible men out there? I thought I knew some. I definitely know men who are neither sexy nor responsible.

        While this may give them the short term satisfaction of “fun” and sexy sons

        The rise of second wave feminism coincided with the rise of widely available birth control, hence those “fun and sexy sons” are not a given.

        it has also produced a civilization that can’t hold families together, and isn’t producing enough children to replace the population.

        Contradicts what he said earlier about fun and sexy sons. Also doesn’t explain why replacing the population is such a vital concern.

        Notice how neither of his posts mentions any responsibility men might bear for the state of affairs he described. It’s all on women.

        An army of single mommies will be supported by the last of the tax payers

        Single mothers = not taxpayers. Another gross generalization.

        and men will largely turn to apathy or crime.

        Which will be entirely women’s fault, because men aren’t responsible for their own actions, and other contributing factors don’t exist (or you wouldn’t know it from this comment).

        • yossarian says:

          Yeah, the population replacement thing was the one part of his argument that wasn’t even seductively wrong, it was just silly.

          But em, I think his comment is how a lot of lonely fat dudes in their early 20s feel…

          That if monogamy was the rule he wouldn’t be alone, even though the sum of his attractive features are less than those of rich pretty dudes.

          It’s a poor understanding of the distribution of prettiness, he thinks a baberaham lincoln would be forced to settle for him when in actuality the 7s, 8s and 9s would be snapped up and he would end up with his own number, the 5s and 6s he could get right now if he just lowered his standards.

        • Fifi says:

          These kinds of “evolutionary psychology” theories are about as close to actual evolutionary psychology as intelligent design is to evolution – and they come from very much the same source (religion, of the more conservative/backward looking sort). Sorry but nature doesn’t actually confirm the belief that monogamous relationships are the norm for apes, including human apes. That doesn’t mean that longterm partnerships or friendships don’t happen, it just means that sexual fidelity isn’t particularly natural (though we may choose it for various reasons or not have the choice).

          • philtrum says:

            Sorry but nature doesn’t actually confirm the belief that monogamous relationships are the norm for apes, including human apes.

            I think George even knows that, hence his emphasis on the importance of forcing women (and only women) to be monogamous.

          • paige says:

            If women are monogamous then who are men going to cheat with?

      • Pastabagel says:

        What’s wrong with this comment logically? For one it’s riddled with false dichotomies: E.g. Sexy men vs. responsible men. Responsible men can’t be sexy? Men who aren’t sexy can’t also be irresponsible? It also assumes that if women do what they want they will do stupid things, i.e. women can’t make good choices for themselves and certainly without the help of dad, etc.

        Also, as with any ode to ye grande olden days of patriarchy, this comment chooses to ignore the rampant wife beating, alcoholism, adultery, racism, etc. that went along with it.

    • Fifi says:

      “In two generations you’re going to see the same thing that happened in the black community happen to the white community. An army of single mommies will be supported by the last of the tax payers and men will largely turn to apathy or crime.”

      Sweet, always good to get some racism in there along with the sexism. This is the rather cliched lament of the self pitying white single unsuccessful guy who misses their imaginary utopia where they were all powerful and class never existed (and they could get laid). It’s the fault of all those slutty women (who won’t sleep with me) and black people.

      • Dan Dravot says:

        Oh, nonsense. In the US, it’s a fact that more black kids grow up with one parent (or with a grandparent) than white kids, and that this is bad for the kids. The legacy of racism and the welfare state is very real, and there is nothing racist about admitting that. Put white people (the white UK underclass for example) in the same situation, and you get the same outcomes: Crime, drugs, illegitimacy, multi-generational unemployment. Look at the rural white underclass in the US, too: Same thing, with minor alterations for lower population density.

        Is it racist to say that white and black people respond identically to the same inputs? Oh, REALLY? Really now? “Racist”?

        It’s a shame all you can do is mindlessly scream abuse at people. But maybe that’s all you’ve got, intellectually.

        • Fifi says:

          Really, the ad hominems add nothing to your assertions and pretending that people who disagree with you are “screaming abuse” is just trying to paint yourself as a victim because someone disagrees with you. You may well be projecting with this particular accusation.

          You seem to believe there’s no “white underclass” in the US since you need to point to the UK when you’re talking about the US. There are plenty of poor white people in the US too and single mothers of various demographics. It’s also a bit sad that there’s this continual blaming of women for men not actually taking responsibility for their children.

          Now, you may be different but it’s a rather common cliche both online and off for sexist men to blame women for not making men be good fathers by holding sex hostage until marriage to ensure men marry them and look after their children and then to start complaining how women use/withhold sex for monetary/marriage gain and are all gold digging sluts.

          The disempowered often have fantasies about a time/place where they have power but what most men without power (or the power to attract a woman) in our society don’t understand is that power has always had more to do with class than it does with gender. There are also women who don’t know their history, of course, and don’t understand this either. But, hey, if we keep making it all about man vs woman (or black vs white) we can keep pretending that class doesn’t matter and the American/Capitalist Myth about individuals and social mobility is true.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      LOL, the grandchildren are always genetic relatives of the grandparents silly.

      The benefit to a mother/father in protecting her daughters sexuality is exactly the same as in a woman protecting her own sexual access… it gives you greater options to choose a genetically fit mate.
      If the teenage daughter is impregnated by a loser, so then are you grandchildren, and your great grandchildren, and the genetic bus stops there .

      Society merely reflects these reproductive imperatives, by creating elaborate laws and rules and consequences which discourage female whoring (be it in your daughters or yourself if you are a female).

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      I would also point out that women have never benefited from fidelity. Only men benefit from sexual fidelity.

      Females by nature are not monogamous. They are selective, but they are not monogmous. This is not the same thing.

      Women have two goals if they are to be successful:
      1) Be impregnated by the most genetically fit male
      2) Be protected and sheltered by the most stable male.

      These are not always the same people.

      Thus the whole “concealed ovulation” thing, and the variability in women’s sexual interest (during the fertile times she wants it bad with rugged masculine men, during the high progesterone potentially pregnant times she favors softer older more stable men who will help her raise and protect the children).

      The ideal outcome for a woman from a genetic standpoint is to have all sons, all of them bastards, with a stable male to provide/protect for all of them until they reach reproductive maturity.

      Nature isn’t nice or fair.

      Monogomy and sexual fidelity benefit men, losers. Now everyone has access to sex and immortality.

      In a roundabout way it actually benefits women too, because women generally benefit from stability.

      The real loser here is evolution and change. That kinda comes to a standstill in such a society.

      • Rebecca says:

        Whoa! Citation needed alert!

        Only men benefit from sexual fidelity.

        No. Pregnancy is a healthier experience when the couple has been together longer. That’s just about the best benefit a woman can ask for.

        These are not always the same people.

        When you look through the lens of modern society, sure. Look through the lens of a HG society, such as the Hazda, and the Alpha male is best for reproduction and protection. The Hazda, however, are also interesting in their women are opportunistically monogamous. They only stay with one man at a time, but will switch men if they step out of line.

        Similar set-ups can be seen in other traditional societies, such as the Cherokee, who often discounted paternal lineage (ie, all relationships were traced through the mother, and the father was only in the familial picture as long as she kept him around).

        The ideal outcome for a woman from a genetic standpoint is to have all sons, all of them bastards, with a stable male to provide/protect for all of them until they reach reproductive maturity.

        Huh? I can’t follow this logic. From a genetic standpoint, a woman is “best off” (her genes are properly passed on to the next generation) by having daughters with the fittest male available. The genes men pass on through reproduction change epigenically. Women’s reproductive genes, however, are established in utero and are static throughout her life.

        The real loser here is evolution and change.

        Well, that’s true enough.

        • Neex says:

          You’re pressuming genes can only adapt through natural selection. I would propose that recent research suggests epigenetic adaptations that enhance species fitness happen throughout both male and female lifespan, are passed on to offspring, and that those changes to gene expression if pressed on specific phenotypes long enough cause hard changes to the phenotype:

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19597338
          ” In response to long-term environmental challenges, however, genetic adaptation of the nucleosome code might lead to a converged epigenetic state, translating short-term adaptation into evolutionary adaptation. This is supported by the observation that the relevant nucleosome codes in the genomes of yeast species reflect their phylogenetic relationships.”

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21115008
          ” It is proposed that persistent environmentally-induced changes in gene expression patterns can cause changes in phenotype that are acted upon by natural selection, and that epigenetic processes can potentially play central roles in evolution.’

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20957246
          ” mutations in genes involved in modifications of glycan antennas are common and apparently contribute largely to individual phenotypic variations that exist in humans and other higher organisms. Some of these variations can be recognized as specific glyco-phenotypes that might represent specific evolutionary advantages or disadvantages. They are however, amenable to environmental influences and are thus less pre-determined than classical Mendelian mutations.”

          • Neex says:

            Also there have been some interesting studies on rats in which they condition the rat to fear a certain stimulus and observe the rat offsprings shows hightened fear response to that stimulus. Evolutionary adaptation is not only due to entirely random mutations that are then selected for by natural selection. It’s a much more deliberate process and even if every human reproduced and there was no elimination of “less ideal” genes— evolution would still continue.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          You are taking research done in recent social structures and trying to extrapolate them to evolutionarily relevant social structures. Monogomy is a recent invention, related to religion, and simply has no relevance what so ever to the things that made us human (evolving in a hunter-gatherer tribal social structure).

          I would fully expect monogomous couples to have healthier babies… TODAY. The reason being that our society is a monogamous one, and a lack of monogamy is a sign that your life sucks (your husband/boyfriend is cheating on you or you are rotating out guys for whatever reason). Sickness is the result of adversity, it’s that cortisol thing to begin with at least.

          You are right that in a traditional society, the most fit man is usually the best provider as well… but not always. Even in traditional societies sometimes the best provider may be too old to be the best from a reproductive standpoint.

          Opportunistically monogamous sounds like they aren’t monogamous at all. Monogamy is defined by sexual and relationship fidelity to one person no matter what. If you are with him only when he is on top/hitting the high notes/ “winning” like charlie sheen, then you aren’t monogamous at all you are merely hitching your wagon to the guy who has the best prospects for fathering your children and providing for you. Monogamy means being sexually exclusive no matter what, or else it isn’t monogamy it’s just being smart and going with the guy who is the top surgeon rockstar scientist olympic athlete in your little hut community, whatever equivalent that may be.

          Huh? I can’t follow this logic. From a genetic standpoint, a woman is “best off” (her genes are properly passed on to the next generation) by having daughters with the fittest male available. The genes men pass on through reproduction change epigenically. Women’s reproductive genes, however, are established in utero and are static throughout her life.
          Genetics say all mothers want sons. Daughters are really bad at passing on genes. Sons are awesome at it. Sons have about 50% of their mother’s genetic material. This is why they throw daughters out of car windows even today in china, and why everyone all over the world wants a male heir. The reason we want sons is because sons are our legacy. Sons have way more offspring than daughters do, assuming he is a bastard and good at having sex and winning.

          I have zero idea why you assume women would benefit from daughters (vs sons) genetically speaking.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      Finally, I would point out that attributing the plight of black americans to sexual infidelity/promiscuity on behalf of females is absolutely ass backward. This is what you are proposing when you warn and threaten that white communities will be in a similar state if women continue to whore it up at the rate they are now.

      I agree that female promiscuity is harmful but this is not the reason the black community has the problems it does. The primary reason is because they are minorities in a social system which does not permit upward mobility (and when black people do succeed it is only because white people have allowed them to, because whites are the gatekeepers). Blacks are the descendents of slaves who were owned by whites. The problems blacks face today are a direct result to their social position hundreds of years ago. You cannot take a group of humans who were once objects, property, and then say “okay now you are equal, ready set GO” and expect them to be doing just as well as white people on average.

      A lack of wealth and culture and social power result in the problems found in “black communities” otherwise known as ethnic ghettos. Black people who escape the “black community” typically have more wealth and education. This allows them the upward mobility and they move out of the so called “black community” which in reality is nothing more than an ethnic ghetto.

      Mainstream media and culture actually encourage and promote black subjugation, by encouraging black people to identify themselves as black (as opposed to human beings and people the way an italian might or an irish might or an english person might… no, a black is a black before he is a human). When they are “black” as opposed to human, they feel an obligation to stay faithful to their “black community”. The “black community” is defined by ignorance poverty and disempowerment (i.e. it is a ghetto). So, in a roundabout way, this hyperemphasis on black identity is a way of keeping blacks from assimilating into mainstream society and ensuring they stay ghetto dwellers, at least in their mind, always and forever.

      Italian americans dont feel a pressing need to stay a part of the “italian community” (some shitty little ghetto in new york or new jersey for example). Why then are black people expected to stay chained to a fictitious “black community” and “black identity” which is defined primarily by being dominated by the white majority?

      That’s a tangent.

      Anyway, single white mothers will, as a group, never be like single black mothers because white people have more wealth/opportunity and this makes all the difference. Whenever you see “whites” acting like “blacks’ it is probably because the “whites” live in a ghetto (ethnic or otherwise) and have 0 money/education/opportunity. Race is a red herring here.

      • Fifi says:

        Anonymous – I agree that race is a red herring in the way it was used and just part of the general xenophobia being expressed by the poster. However, we do get Italian, Jewish, Chinese, Indian, etc neighbourhoods in North America so your premise is basically flawed. There are also areas (often rural but not exclusively) that are peopled by predominantly poor white people too. Some of this is tribalism and by choice (suburbs that are predominantly lived in by certain groups, incidentally the suburbs are becoming increasingly black – which is undoubtedly due to both better economic conditions for some black people and the fact that fewer crosses gt burned on suburban lawns these days), and some of it is economic (ghettos) and due to lack of choice. Both new immigrants (who aren’t wealthy) and the traditionally poor end up living in ghettos.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          We have ethnic communities in america but the difference is members of those communities feel no guilt or conflict about going to harvard and moving out of their ghetto community. They aren’t accused of “not being italian anymore” when they speak in a grammatically correct way and getting a good education. Black people, on the other hand, very much do feel a bit of guilt (if not overt accusations/shaming from others) when they “act white” (i.e. stop living in poverty and start joining the middle class).

          It’s the EXPECTATION to remain poor and enslaved (“a true black”) that is beat into blacks by whites and by other blacks which makes all the difference.

          • philtrum says:

            It’s the EXPECTATION to remain poor and enslaved (“a true black”) that is beat into blacks by whites and by other blacks which makes all the difference.

            How do you know this?

  5. Dan Dravot says:

    “Most American men have not been able to reconcile their objectification of women in culture, advertising, and everywhere else with the reality of their daughters becoming women. The objectification is so deeply programmed in American men”

    I laughed so hard I hurt myself. Go read up about Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures, the ones that traditionally did stuff like keep women completely physically secluded by force until they married somebody who’d never been allowed to see them. Or how about foot binding in China?

    Even by modern world standards, and certainly by historical standards, the modern USA is in probably in the 99th percentile in terms of respecting women and treating them as real autonomous people. There may be room for improvement, but to go on about American men as you do is strange.

    In a lot of cultures, right now, as we speak, this very moment, if the daughter walked out the front door with her legs bare the father would be expected by the neighbors to beat the hell out of her and lock her in the house at the very least. Killing her would demonstrate more zeal for defending the good name of his family, but beating her senseless would at least show that his heart was in the right place. I don’t mean some rare deviant might do it and go to jail; I mean in any neighborhood you choose, 90% of the neighbors would be guaranteed to loudly and openly approve of his behavior, and no jury would convict him.

    • Dan Dravot says:

      Go ahead, tell me America’s exactly like that, or in some way equivalent to it. Yeah? If so, how’d the commercial get made?

    • philtrum says:

      How is that relevant to the psychology of American men as depicted in American advertising?

      Did Pastabagel say Americans were especially sexist or cruel to women, by world standards? Because if so, I entirely missed it.

      • Dan Dravot says:

        The claim that “objectification is so deeply programmed in American men” is a set of claims about reality:

        There is objectification.
        It’s programmed.
        It’s programmed deeply.

        Do those claims make any sense? “Deep”, what does that mean? Maybe we could compare objectification of women in American culture to objectification of women in other cultures; might that give us a baseline?

        Yeah, it might.

        • Pastabagel says:

          Deep means they aren’t aware of it. Deep means you think it’s normal that a football game has pretty girls on the sidelines cheering them on, even though most of the fans are men. Shouldn’t the cheerleaders be males? Deep means you think it’s normal when a woman is nude for no reason in a horror movie, but think it’s weird when there are no naked men. Deep means its normal that sexy women are used to sell everything including products for women in women’s magazines.

          Deep means deeply enough that you can’t imagine a world where there is no objectification of women.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            I can’t say I share Dravot’s opinion that american men are so kind to women (being less cruel does not = kind, please take note logicians).

            I do share his puzzlement at TLP/your sentiment that there is some kind of “deep” social brainwashing of men.

            Men do not need to be “brainwashed” into hungering after female bodies any more than a bunch of bears need to pop some ambien before tucking into their caves for a long winter nap. It is natural, it is part of being male to want to have sex with female bodies (whether conscious talking or consenting, it doesn’t matter all that much).

            Men are paraphilic by nature; men want to have sex for sex’s sake by nature. This is good business for males. Reproduction is about genes, reproduction is a gateway for genes to stay around forever, genes design our bodies and nervous system so that we behave think and feel in ways which ensure they make their way into the next generation.

            Men do not need to be “brainwashed” into “objectifying” women. Being a man, with a neuroanatomy which is sexually typical, with high male-levels of testosterone is enough. No further ingredients necessary.

            Culture merely reflects the biology of men. So lots of naked cheering bodies, all under 24 yrs old, all female, while the male viewer emotionally identifies with the mock conflicts going on in the sports game… this is a highly appealing pastime to men.

            It’s just like throwing a furry squeeky toy across the floor gets your feline in a dopamine frenzy. The cat’s brain is designed to see a round gray object making squeeky noises, to crouch and hide flatten its ears and enlarge its pupils, and prime to sprint/strike/kill/eat. I did not need to teach or condition or acculturate my kitten into doing this. His brain was programmed from birth to do it.

          • wisegirl says:

            “Culture merely reflects the biology of men.”

            But should it? Is it harmful to women? This is what you need to ask yourself.

          • paige says:

            I see this “should” business constantly, particularly amongst “progressives”. Lets transform society to pander to my sensibilities, even though it completely disregards biological tendencies. Maybe if we close our eyes and wish really hard what we want will actually happen.

            OR we can construct a society that brings out the best in each of us by cooperating with our base urges and instincts rather than pretending they don’t exist.

          • wisegirl says:

            “Maybe if we close our eyes and wish really hard what we want will actually happen.”
            No, but the Media, the NFL, the movie industry has the power to be more responsible in the way it portrays women. Not too long ago, blacks were portrayed in movies and ads as tap dancing jigaboos and mammys until society wised up.
            Until recently, gay people weren’t positively represented in television.
            I’m sorry I just don’t buy into the “I am male therefore I objectify women” construct. It’s a harmful, hostile premise.

          • Fifi says:

            pastabagel – “Deep means deeply enough that you can’t imagine a world where there is no objectification of women.”

            An extremely relevant point – thanks for making it. Dan brought up creativity elsewhere in this discussion and it seems relevant to add that imagination is a very big part of creativity. We are often limited by our lack of imagination – being stuck in binary (either/or) thinking is about a lack of creativity and ability to see other options and then create them. Creative problem solving is ALL about imagination and being able to think outside the box.

          • Fifi says:

            wisegirl – “I’m sorry I just don’t buy into the “I am male therefore I objectify women” construct. It’s a harmful, hostile premise.”

            Agreed and it’s quite belittling towards men as well. I suspect people who view others as objects have a hard time imagining them as people with their own desires, insecurities and volition that have absolutely nothing to do with the viewer. Also, it totally denies that it’s become increasingly common for women to objectify men as sexual objects. Advertising commodifies men just as much as it does women, increasingly in exactly the same way.

            There’s a difference between finding someone sexy and/or beautiful and objectifying them – you can still admire how sexy someone is and be physically attracted to them and respect them as an individual with their own desires (which may or may not include having sex with you). Maturing beyond objectification doesn’t mean giving up sex or noticing that someone is sexy, it just means realizing that other people are just as much a person as you are. You know, other people aren’t all about you (or me, they have their own agency, dreams, desires and autonomy).

            It’s a bit like there’s a difference between admiring a beautiful painting and needing to own it as a reflection of your own self worth.

            To quote Spinal Tap, “sexy, wot’s wrong with sexy?”

  6. Dan Dravot says:

    I mean, you’re just reading waaay too much into this thing. It’s fluff. What I see in it is a silly “girl power vs lame square old Dad” narrative, but on such a light, fluffy level that it doesn’t even begin to get on my nerves. I can see your narrative in it too, but it’s absolutely weightless. It’s fluff.

    The fact that your hideous Freudian nightmare scenario is treated as silly fluff should be your clue that in America it’s just not a big deal.

  7. paige says:

    Adult fathers understand the mind of a teen boy better than a teen girl understands the mind of a teen boy. Hence so many girls say “I THOUGHT IT WAS LOOOOVE!” as they are crying over their lost virginity to the high school quarterback. You know songs like Taylor Swifts “Fifteen” are popular because that actually happens.

    Yes, Fathers do feel a need to protect their daughters from their foolish girly feelings because they should. And girls should respect their father. And that father in the commercial should have thrown the damn skirt away instead of putting it in the hamper (wtf?). And then gave his wife a spanking for being suck a freaking dunce to let her buy it in the first place.

    • Pastabagel says:

      “gave his wife a spanking”? For letting her buy a skirt? Are you serious? So he should hit her for being stupid? This line of thinking is incredibly stupid and grotesque, but thanks for reminding us about what made the patriarchy work “so well.” Good old violence.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      Agree very much.

      Big nod toward your subtle caricaturization of the wife as a child (in need of a “spanking”). She’s behaving like a child by teaming up with her child against her father. Thats what sisters and friends do, not mothers.

      I forgot to mention this in my “what I first thought” comment. Another reason this commercial is so f*cking annoying is because it encourages the “I’m a 35 year old child tee hee” mentality so many adults in america have. Never grow up peter pan, never grow up.

      • paige says:

        Exactly, that was my point in saying “spanking”… because the woman is so ridiculously childish. Obviously a mature discussion would be better but I was using a bit of hyperbole to make my point.

      • philtrum says:

        Well, okay, but damaging your kid’s things behind her back isn’t exactly mature either.

        It’s a thirty-second spot, so I’m not expecting a sequence where Dad soberly and respectfully consults with Mom and/or the daughter about proper attire, but he’s still being passive-aggressive.

    • towle says:

      (I’m replying to your above comment here because it won’t let me there.)

      The “should” business is indeed frustrating. The word allows the speaker to make a strong positive claim without supporting it. Essentially, it lets you make an unfounded assertion sound/feel like a substantiated claim. That shit’s dangerous.

      There are a few more worth noting. “Should” is the biggie, but others include “supposed to,” “deserve,” the “he was just doing his job” defense, and so on. Even the use of passive voice to remove the primary actor, if you will, from the statement: “mistakes were made” …who made them?

      You may or may not find this enlightening. It’s a little long, but if you aren’t familiar with the author, I’d recommend it. You’re Neo, this guy is Morpheus. You sensed the Matrix, now he’s here to show you what it is.

  8. Rebecca says:

    The mom is the ego, mediating between the two and finding a way through.

    You had me up until this point, and it seems like you’re giving Tide a little more credit for deep thinking than I am. When I first saw it, I saw a women’s lib advertisement. Dad is the traditional male role-model. He’s involved and concerned for his daughter’s well being, he takes care of his family, but he can be rather heavy handed in getting his way.

    Mom, with the help of Tide, can exert control over that role. She can reflect on how her husband is exactly like her father, but now she can do what her mother never could and allow her daughter to be an independent young woman. Mom has regulated Dad’s role as a provider and protector. Those traits are good in moderation, and Mom has the power to reign in Dad’s tendencies when they get in the way of her daughter’s journey to feminism…

  9. Pingback: 15 Year Old Girls are Not Sexually Liberated Feminists « Raise Your Glass

  10. Neex says:

    I can’t help seeing this through the whole teen pregnancy, sexual assault thing. The commercials skips the night before where the dad is wanking to barely legal porn. And not caring about how that affects the girl. But his daughter he cares about. Those girls who no one cares about, that aren’t his daughter, they can be exploited even though IN HIS OWN MIND he believes he is participating in something that damages her.

    He doesn’t care though so long as it’s not his daughter. And after all, he “knows what men think” (he knows what HE thinks about doing to teens) and his daughter matters. She’s a REAL human beings. All the others are…. to be used even to their (percieved and likely desired) detriment.

    Teens aren’t that great at using birth control, so pregnancy is still a very real risk, and men (this characature of a man) know that the way sex works in a lot of guys minds is the girl protests a little and the guy pushes and so long as she relents enough to not verbally be saying no or fighting back sex can happen and it’s “not rape” and there was no protection used but who cares cause she’s a slut now, so it’s all on her. And the older the guy the more skills he’ll have at making sure things go his way, of course making sure she actually breaks under his will– if she actually fights you have to back off in order to avoid icky rape charges. (At least for the portion of men who fear such consequences and social stigma of such behavior.)

    And god forbid tax dollars help her.

    I would prefer a world where parents DID care about these kinds of consequences to their daughters. But maybe also a world where men thought every woman and young girl should be protected from such treatment, not just their daughters.

    Supposedly the logic of this sort of thing seems to be that the dad trusts the daughter but not the men. Is he wrong in doing so? Considering sexual assault statistics and nature of predatory sexual interactions that operate out of “convince her to submit even if she’s resistant” that is at least a portion of males way of approaching women, wouldn’t it be right to be protective?

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      Wild applause from the crowd.

    • philtrum says:

      It’s a very large logical leap from an item of clothing to acquaintance rape.

      • Neex says:

        You think so? Where is the girl going out to without parental supervision? A party? Will there be alcohol? Will there be other parents supervising? Who is giving her a ride? A guy? Who has a car? Will she be alone with him?

        I don’t see this as a huge leap… or that the word acquaintance was mentioned. Most of these kinds of sexually exploitive situations happen with people the girl knows. And in the dad’s mind, he believes that enough males to pose a threat view sex in an exploitive way like this.

        How do teens get pregnant? How to teens get STDs? These are real things that happen, whether through rape or through exploitive sex. A guy having sex with a woman without a condom poses very little benefit to the woman. She doesn’t get enhanced pleasure from the cap being off. She doesn’t benefit from possibly getting pregnant. In situations were a man/teen guy is pushing for unproteted sex and the woman/girl submits, the guy only stands to gain and the girl stands to face really awful consequences. And often teens beleive they can go on a date or have a boyfriend and not have sex or go all the way, so they aren’t on birth control. If a coercive situation happens will she be able to psychologically or physically get away? Will she THINK she’ll be able to be assertive and then find that she collapses? And do guys know that the goal is to get her to collaps even if she is trying not to? Are they equipped to try to be one step ahead of her initiatives to try to avoid exploitive, hurtful or dangerous sex?

        I would hope parents would be looking out for their daughters because these things happen, one has only to look at the number of teen parents/teen abortions/sexual assaults on teens, statutory rape etc.

        • philtrum says:

          You think so? Where is the girl going out to without parental supervision? A party? Will there be alcohol? Will there be other parents supervising? Who is giving her a ride? A guy? Who has a car? Will she be alone with him?

          Yes, but would any of that be different if she were wearing a longer skirt?

          • Neex says:

            In the hypthetical dad’s mind, yes because he knows how he views (or viewed) women/girls who show more skin than other women. He fears she will signal sexual advances that she isn’t psyhologically prepared to handle, and that other males will know that her youth predisposes her to not being able to protect herself from sexual advances that could be harmful/hurtful/overwhelming to her.

          • philtrum says:

            Fair enough, but the dangerous activity here isn’t wearing that skirt, the dangerous activity is going to a party where there’s alcohol etc. (Although given that the entire commercial seems to take place in daylight, I expect the girl is just going to the mall or something.)

          • Neex says:

            Right on, but when I was in highschool and went out with guys, no alcohol involved and during the day time— it was being alone that was the problem. Those other variables only inrease an already present risk.

            Even at a park. Apparantly. I’m not saying the hypthetical dads fear is entirely accurate (that the cause is the skirt)— but it is based in something he SHOULD be trying to protect his daughter from. As a girl you can be taught about assertiveness and what guys are after but it’s really different than when you’re actually faced with it.

            I think it’s a good thing for parents to worried about this kind of thing, even if the representation of the skirt is not actually the CAUSE. And hopefully in more cases than none, when guys understand how much they want to protect their daughters from things they thought about doing or DID to women— maybe they’ll increase their compassion to non-genetically related women and young girls as well.

            I would hope.

          • philtrum says:

            But I still think that’s projecting a lot on to a piece of clothing. And here’s the thing:

            And hopefully in more cases than none, when guys understand how much they want to protect their daughters from things they thought about doing or DID to women— maybe they’ll increase their compassion to non-genetically related women and young girls as well.

            Maybe. But it seems to me that focusing on the clothing is a good way of maintaining the illusion that there was nothing wrong with the way you thought about behaving/actually behaved with those other women — because THEY dressed like sluts, or did something else that you would never let your daughter do.

  11. Neex says:

    “Mom has regulated Dad’s role as a provider and protector. Those traits are good in moderation, and Mom has the power to reign in Dad’s tendencies when they get in the way of her daughter’s journey to feminism…”

    Meh, I like your take better. Always with the downer perspective aren’t I?

  12. localhost says:

    PB, you’re making a fundamental error. Dad isn’t protecting his daughter from her own sexuality. He’s protecting her from the 20,000 creeps who’ll see her in that skirt and feel emboldened by the message they think it directs at each of their narcissistic complexes. He’s not worried about her having sex. He’s worried how she’ll be treated before and after.

    Also, as a Dad of similar age, I don’t mind how Tide is stereotyping me here at all.

    • philtrum says:

      Except that when the fashion for teenage girls was long skirts, or knee-length skirts, or baggy jeans and hoodies (i.e. 10-15 years ago), teenage girls still got hit on by creeps.

      I know; I was one.

      • philtrum says:

        I was a teenage girl, that is, not a creep. Hee.

      • Rebecca says:

        LIES!

        Just about the only way to avoid being hit on is to wear a burlap sack. And, for some girls, even that isn’t enough.

        But, and I’m putting my Mommy Hat on here, there is a legitimate point to fathers wanting to mitigate the attention their daughters get. Short skirt == attention grabbing. There will always be a certain number of guys who will hit on her because she has a vagina, but the number increases when she flaunts that fact. Risk mitigation…kind of like wearing a helmet…that makes kids pissy, too…

  13. Fifi says:

    What’s interesting is how many people buy into dichotomies – men vs women, black vs white – when reality is actually much more nuanced and complex. It’s like people can’t or don’t want to get beyond being reactionary – I suspect it’s because people are uncomfortable with uncertainty (the same reason why so many people are uncomfortable with science or unable to see it as just another form of religion – which is not to negate how social beliefs can influence science or how human subjectivity impacts scientific research). What about a society where people share responsibility and power? I’ve got plenty of friends who are married with children, both people in the relationship are dynamic individuals and share power and responsibility – in some instances it’s the fathers who are the primary caretakers of the kids, in some it’s the mother. I’ve also got friends who are no longer a couple but have kids they both care for equally. This is hardly rocket science or complex, it just involves seeing other people (including one’s children) as people and valuing them for their uniqueness and being respectful.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      Humans evolved the mental machinery to generalize (i.e. stereotype) because it works and it helps.

      If eating plants that have a red stripe down the side typically result in people getting sick, you better avoid red striped plants from now on.

      We make generalizations and try to compartmentalize what we see into labeled boxes (“hes that kind of person”) so we can predict how they might behave and affect us in the future.

      If I see an 18 year old man with gang tattoos and thug wear walking down the street with several companions dressed similarly, I cross the street. TV and the news has taught me that such individuals are prone to crime and violence and I don’t want to be a victim. Only a moron would walk passed them unflinchingly. If you don’t want to be treated like a violent criminal, don’t dress/act like one. This is why I hate when thug4life morons get all butthurt when people rightly treat them like they might commit a crime. If you dont want to be treated like a criminal stop making everyone think you are one by modeling your behavior after them.

      Without our beautiful wonderful life-saving ability to stereotype, you would have died a long time ago. Imagine living in a world without the ability to form quick generalizations and learn from them so as to predict future outcomes?
      We don’t need to know the complex reasons behind why we think what we do, usually our stereotypes are partially/entirely correct.

  14. Fifi says:

    Neex – “I would prefer a world where parents DID care about these kinds of consequences to their daughters. But maybe also a world where men thought every woman and young girl should be protected from such treatment, not just their daughters.”

    That’s the key really – you can’t treat women like objects then want your own daughter to be the exception. It’s a bit like the whole “I know how men think” thing, which is actually really saying “I think like this about women, therefore I project and assume all other men think the same thing”. Actually, no, some men do view women as people…really, they do. You’re not “all the same”, just as women aren’t all the same. Btw, noticing that someone is attractive isn’t the same as treating them like an object – you can think someone is attractive and you’d like to have sex with them without conceiving them as someTHING to be possessed or used.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      No, I don’t think any man views women in a sexually neutral way.
      Some men are really good at convincing women that they do because they think it means they will get more sex that way (if he can convince her that he experiences arousal like she does, oriented toward people as opposed to bodies).

      In men, the desire for sex (and not the person) cannot be separated from the resultant necessity of using/exploiting/discarding afterward. If you agree that men sexually desire female bodies (as opposed to individual people inhabiting them, that they select in the way a woman might be attracted and want to have sex with a man)… you must then agree that men desire to sexually use women. They don’t perhaps *want* to hurt her but it does mean that his interest in her body is his primary interest (and not her as a person). If hurting/using/expoiting results from this sex-seeking behavior, that is unfortunate.

      Big cultural myth alert: men and women feel and experience sex and desire the same way.

      Why should we assume that what women feel is anything like men feel and vice versa?
      Why do we assume it’s “just a few men who are bad” who think this way, whereas the ” good men ” think more like women do and have a socially acceptable type of sexuality?
      Why wouldn’t we assume that the way men experience sex arousal and interest might be entirely different when compared to a woman?

      It’s said “men are visual” when it comes to sex.
      This is a nicer way of saying that men are by nature paraphilic.
      Men, by nature, are into physical stimulation and objectifying/fetishizing. All it takes is a body (if heterosexual, then a female fertile looking body), and that’s the primary ingredient in male sexual interest. Men are visual. Men are paraphilic. Men are not interested in people when it comes to sexual arousal. Paraphilias are common in men because the male brain is biologically primed to objectify. It’s not narcissism. Its masculinity of the brain.

      Women are much different, as they are selective and tend to feel aroused / sexually desire specific PEOPLE who have specific QUALITIES with specific ATTRIBUTES who hold a certain STATUS. Women do not drive down the street, see a 17 year old boy with his shirt off after a basketball game, slow down and cat call him from her car and invite him in the backseat for a quickie. At least not seriously, at least not if she is sane and her brain / endocrine profile is congruent with her physical sex. That’s not how it works for women….it takes more than a naked body. Women are not paraphilic. The female brain is designed to be people-seeking, to specify and select certain types of men who have markers of not being a loser. This is how she wants sex: when the body is inhabited by a winner. The body is just a necessary part of the overall package.

      But men are quite different, and normal men are content to just have a faceless sea of late teens-early 20s girls for casual meaningless sex because that’s how they are sexually.

      This is pretty much what it means to be male at least in so far as sexuality is concerned.

  15. Fifi says:

    The ultimate problem with advertising and commodity culture is that ALL people become objects (this predates contemporary culture and women participated too so it’s not a man vs woman thing – historically poor men have been seen as cannon or factory fodder). Women, given the opportunity and economic power to do so, are just as likely to use men as objects if they see others as objects to be used. All one has to do is look at how many women avail themselves of male prostitutes given the opportunity. Granted, much of this takes the form of sex tourism (Bali, the Caribbean, etc) but it’s not exclusively in that form. Sure women may lie to themselves about their beach boyfriend’s motives but it’s not like many men don’t want to believe that a prostitute considers them special and different than the other Johns in some way).

  16. foxfire says:

    Wierd, I saw something completely different.

    What bothered me when I saw the commercial was the complete lack of communication between the parents.

    Who let the girl buy the skirt in the first place? Mom, or she bought it herself.
    Then the dad decides to do something about it without talking to the mother about it.
    Then the mother counters without talking to the father.

    The total lack of communication between the parents in the commercial is frightening enough. Now, we have 70+ comments from people who all seem to think that the lack of communication is normal?

    I just watch this commercial and think if they had just communicated with each other directly, then things would have been so much better than this passive-aggressive territorial pissing match.

    • philtrum says:

      Yeah, in retrospect, I’m ashamed I didn’t pick up on that immediately. Dad doesn’t actually communicate with anyone. And while the mother and daughter are in the laundry room, he’s sitting alone in the living room, watching TV, disconnected from the family.

      What I find really interesting in this comments thread is that so many people apparently think Dad did the right thing, is nobly trying to protect his daughter, etc. No. He’s making a weak token gesture, but he’s not setting any real limits. As far as she knows, he could just be inconsiderate, wiping his dirty hands on whatever’s closest by. In fact, in real life, I think the gesture would come off as hostile: “when I have a problem with you, I won’t engage with you in any real way, but I’ll ruin the things you like.” A real teenage girl would probably be angry, not amused.

      • paige says:

        I don’t think Dads intentions were good, but his actions were ineffective.

        • paige says:

          grrr..I meant to say I think Dads intentions were good.

        • philtrum says:

          Right. But as TLP has written many a time, intentions don’t matter. Dad is an uncommunicative guy who occasionally does something passive-aggressive and then goes back to watching TV by himself. That’s who Dad is.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          Dad is not supposed to be a jerk. Dad is a symbol of male power.

          The mother makes the final decision not because dad is uninterested/uncommunitive (that is your take)… mom makes the final decision because “grrr female power!!!!, take that patriarchy!”
          Dad goes back to watching TV because he knows he can’t compete and the women have outdone him and his silly attempt to control them. Women 1 Men 0.

          That’s the message we were SUPPOSED to get.

          The real message is this:
          1) It is okay to disrespect your dad
          2) It is okay to identify with your daughter and be her friend rather than her mother, in fact it is the best way to raise your daughter
          3) There is no solidarity in the family unit; parents never agree and are always fighting
          4) Children are equal to adults in power and decision making, and any parent who disagrees is outdated/old/a misogynist

          That dad is an ass who sits watching TV and doesn’t really care… meh, I think you are projecting. The dad cares. He was fixing the fence, he wants to be a good father. Bad fathers neglect fences. His lack of communication is implied to be the result of knowing he can’t win because everyone knows women are better than men (duh everyone knows it, duh!)
          Would YOU attempt to argue someone who you knew had you beat? No, I would stay in the living room hiding as well if I just got my ass womped in a power struggle.

      • Rebecca says:

        And while the mother and daughter are in the laundry room, he’s sitting alone in the living room, watching TV, disconnected from the family.

        And Mom communicates only with her daughter. She doesn’t ask Dad what’s going on – she just gives her daughter a knowing look, “Oh, your father and his silly antics.”

        You’re making the mother out to be some kind of saint, but she just made the poor communication worse and castrated the father in the daughter’s eyes. Maybe that’s why he passive-aggressively attacked the skirt, instead of telling her no daughter of his would wear that and tossing it in the Salvation Army bag. Proper maternal response: “Your father obviously has a problem with you wearing this. Let me go talk to him about it. Wear your jeans tonight, dear, and I’ll let you know what we decide.”

        Instead, she took an action that says, “Your father is an old-fashioned imbecile, what he does is only in effect as long as I say it is. I have no problem with you dressing like a 1980s pop star, so, here ya go.”

        As AnonymousAtLarge pointed out, Mom is daughter’s girlfriend, not her mother. She’s a very powerful, very important, very enabling girlfriend, at that…

        • philtrum says:

          You’re making the mother out to be some kind of saint

          What? I’ve barely said anything about her.

          • foxfire says:

            You seem more focused on what the father was doing wrong. In that sense, both you and Rebecca are right.

            The father is making token passive aggressive gestures without actually setting any boundaries.

            The mother is actively undercutting the father and enabling the daughter in continuing the disapproved behavior.

            Both are wrong IMHO.

          • philtrum says:

            I am more focused on what the father was doing wrong, that’s true. The father is the protagonist; the mother merely reacts to what he does. Undercutting him is not useful or mature, true; it doesn’t deal with the issues. But interpreting his behaviour to make sure he gets what he wants, without acknowledging that it’s out of line, infantilizes him.

            Adults don’t deal with conflict by destroying things. As we say to two-year-olds: use your words.

          • Rebecca says:

            Mea culpa. Omission fallacy. Whoops.

        • philtrum says:

          Proper maternal response: “Your father obviously has a problem with you wearing this. Let me go talk to him about it. Wear your jeans tonight, dear, and I’ll let you know what we decide.”

          I don’t think so. Mind-reading without talking to him first just fosters miscommunication (“maybe he’s mad I didn’t put out clean towels”), enables his passive aggression (“I don’t like your Justin Bieber CD, guess I’ll smash it with a hammer”) and lets him continue to avoid having any hard conversations with his daughter. “I’ll let you know what we decide”, really? Why should she play interpreter/messenger for him?

          • foxfire says:

            From the knowing looks the mother gives the daughter, I would say she, at the very least, thinks she knows why the father is mad. Even if she is wrong about what is bothering him, her intent seems to be to make things worse, not better.

            If you seem to be mad about a paper cut, I should still refrain from rubbing salt into it.

          • philtrum says:

            Yeah, that’s true. Tide plays it as cute that she just cleans the skirt without confronting him about his behaviour or the feelings/thoughts that lead to his behaviour, but it’s not actually cute.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            You are being ridiculous if you are trying to compare a slutty skirt to a justin bieber CD. That might work if you are arguing with aliens who have no human emotions and cannot differentiate between the significance of innocent pop music vs sexually revealing clothing. TOo bad for you we are human beings and not autistic so all of us know you’re really grasping at straws here.

            Dad didn’t go around randomly smashing her things like some kind of psychopath.

            First of all, nothing was broken/destroyed. When a person BREAKS something you own, this is violent and threatening (the threat is this: if you step out of line, you are next to be smashed). Discarding something you disapprove of sends a different message: I will not allow this item in my home, I disapprove of it, therefore I throw it out. If he cut up the skirt that would be much more crazy and irrational. This is a very important distinction you are purposely refusing to acknowledge.

            Two, the father did not randomly throw out random things, he threw out one (1) very spectific thing: a sexualizing skirt. This is not an unreasonable thing for a father to do, assuming he paid for the skirt and the owner is his dependent child living in his home (which we are assuming is true). She isn’t even doing her own laundry, who is she to decide to sexualize herself? If her parents crazy brand of outdated morals say that dressing like brit brit is a no no, she always has the option of learning how to wash clothes and finding an apartment in the city with some roomies or something. If dads rules are so horrible, she can leave any time she wants.

            BIG CULTURAL MYTH: parents are obligated to finance their childrens lifestyle no matter what they do. There are no consequences, someone will always be there to bail you out and buy you a new pair of black knee boots when you end up knocked up for the 3rd time and need money for Plan B.

            This programs people for debt slavery to credit cards.
            Media supports it on purpose.

            The old model (parents have control and children must listen to them) programmed people for hard work and saving/earning wealth. It is not an accident that our media has destroyed this in a hurry. Respecting and honoring your parents is fundamental to becoming a decent adult that is capable of working for a living and earning wealth. When you have respect for the things you have and how they got to you, you are far less likely to CHARGE ITTTT and buy things on credit you cant afford.

    • Neex says:

      Yes communication would have been better. I don’t have a husband and my dad wasn’t around much past grade 6 so whatever it is that dad’s do is rather fictional to me to begin with. There are probably a lot of people for whom “how moms and dads actively communicate” is completely imagined because they’ve never seen it happen or even have a concept of that as being the ideal sense their idea of having a mom and dad in the same house is made up from images in the media.

      Are there fathers who stick around and come home to their families at night? Fathers who actually stay in a monagamous partnership and provide? That’s nice. Fathers that want to protect their daughters from bad things happening? That’s nice. Is there such a thing as people who actually like being in a monagamous partnership, even with some flaws? Gosh that sounds so nice.

      I’m stuck on the idea of fathers being involved being a nice thing and therefore didn’t jump on imperfections. There are an awful lot of people in this country with limited or without any father involvement at all or with only noncustodial father involvement so anything above that comes accross as an involved caring dutiful father. Not to mention that among the dads who stay, a dad whose worst abusive behavior is trying to mess up a skirt because he’s worried about what might happen to her if she wears it is a lot better than what a lot of people get from the primary male role model in their lives.

      And yeah, that’s a bit sad. I wish marriage wasn’t so miserable for men that so many of them have to leave. I guess if we entirely give up on marriage as a culture, perhaps the kids will be less affected beause they won’t imagine it could be any different. Maybe.

      • Rebecca says:

        That’s an enlightening and slightly depressing take on it. If you’re correct* (“their idea of having a mom and dad in the same house is made up from images in the media”), I wonder if that wasn’t an intended undertone of the commercial. Many commercials are geared toward evoking a sense of how people want things to be (rich people buy this, pretty people buy that). Tide is now positioned as a product purchased by idealized middle-class, dual-parent households to handle their mundane middle-class problems.

        Because, as any middle-class housewife will tell you, Tide will not, in fact, magically remove oil stains from a white denim skirt.

        *I say it this way because I came from a dual-parent middle-class household and am a housewife. ‘Tis all I know first hand.

      • philtrum says:

        Not to mention that among the dads who stay, a dad whose worst abusive behavior is trying to mess up a skirt because he’s worried about what might happen to her if she wears it is a lot better than what a lot of people get from the primary male role model in their lives.

        Sad, but probably true.

        I grew up in a two-parent household where Mum and Dad actually talked to each other — it’s still not that rare — and that no doubt colours my responses.

      • foxfire says:

        Those fathers do exist. I am one.

        What we need to do is get rid of the “happily ever after” BS Hollywood has spoonfed us for so many years. Relationships are hard work, and “Happily ever after” doesn’t just happen on its own. I walked into my marrage knowing these things, and I have never once regretted my decision to get married. I love my wife more today that I did the day we got married.

        As for my ideas about communication in marrage, they are very much real world. My wife and I have a fairly traditional marrage. I love my wife and I try my best to make sure she knows it. She has a very different perspective on things, so I talk to her a lot and always try to get her thoughts on things, but at the end of the day someone has to have the final say on things, and that is me. In 5 years, I think I have had to overrule her once. My wife doesn’t have a problem with this because she knows I love her, and she trusts my judgement. My wife is far from a submissive doormat. I often joke that she is really a redhead, because if I piss her off, I will know about it in short order. She speaks her mind freely, and I try my best to listen.

        This is why I have a problem with the commercial. I have a hard time imagining the lack of communication that would result in a mother and father being so far apart on an issue like this. This is not some minor quibble over the length(like 20″ is ok, but 19″ is too short)between two parents . These parents are not even operating out of the same book, much less on the same page. Futher, the dad is likewise massively out of touch with his daughter. Where has he been for the last 15 years of her life, that she can so casually dismiss his opinion? I see a lot of conflict with little to no actual communication. This isn’t a family, this is 3 people cohabitating.

        Throwing 2 random people together does not a good marrage make. Having a kid will not “fix” a failing relationship. Marrage is not about tricking or manipulating your partner into staying with you. It is about building a family(emphasis on building as a form of work). It takes work, and a lot of communication to make a marrage work, but if you do it right, it is absolutely worth it.

  17. bean says:

    Ok. Here is why the tide commercial is creepy. It is so subliminal that none of you has noticed it and yet it such an obvious subtext. Of course the obvious other message is the intended one. But this is another unconscious subtext communicated by the actor/ director/ writer.
    The dad sees a sexy skirt. He wipes his hands on it in such a way such that his hand prints are on the back of it. If his daughter put it on now he would essentially be grabbing her ass. Then when he sees his daughter wearing the skirt he looks guilty. He does not speak up and say why are you dressed like that. He looks away as though he has been caught.
    Let us remember that men often have trouble with the sexuality of their daughters. They are sexy. But unacceptable mates. They have to rationalize their conflict by projecting it onto the other men and boys that see their daughter.

    • paige says:

      That is way out in left field and ridiculously misandrist.

    • vprime says:

      I think you have a point. After all, if men are encouraged to objectify women, what happens when their daughters become women?

      • paige says:

        The instinct the drives sexual attraction is successful reproduction. Mating with your own child does not tend towards the best results, hence most men are not attracted to their own children.

        • philtrum says:

          No, most men do not have sexual contact with their own children. Feeling an attraction is another matter.

          • paige says:

            Not true. Most men have an instinctual repulsion to incest because it results in biological disorders like hemophilia ( a clotting disorder).

          • Fifi says:

            Hemophilia isn’t caused by incest, that’s a rather weak evolutionary argument so someone has been misinforming you I’m afraid. Incest is not that uncommon and we do tend to be attracted to people who look like they’re related to us (often our mothers or fathers) so if you’re going to make an argument from biology/evolution then the science is not on your side.

            However, putting incest aside, men who see women as sexual objects are going to have a very hard time dealing with their own daughter’s blossoming sexuality. They may well try to control their daughter and her sexuality instead of controlling themselves, particularly if they blame women for their sexual desires or actions rather than taking responsibility for themselves. If you believe that raping someone because they’re wearing a short skirt is a case of – “she was asking for it” – then you’re going to think that if your daughter wears a short skirt or looks sexually attractive in any way then it’s an invitation to rape her.

      • Fifi says:

        vprime – I agree, this is part of the issue – if you objectify women, then your daughter becoming a woman becomes an issue for you. There’s a difference between treating your daughter as a person (and teaching her self respect and boundaries) and trying to make sure that she remains a certain kind of object that you, and only you, own. There’s a very big difference between thinking you own and control your children and bringing up people who are self possessed and can control themselves. One is treating your children as objects to be used for your own satisfaction, the other is raising a person. I’d suggest that these are aspects of some (probably many) teenage daughter/father relationships that few like to acknowledge.

        In symbolic terms, white is associated with purity/virginity in our society. Bean’s reading is actually not that “out there” at all if we’re deconstructing the ad’s symbolism. The central theme in the ad is about sexual vs virginal – clean vs besmirched – dad puts his dirty hands all over the daughter’s skirt (which is symbolic for both sex and virginity…short and sexy but purely white) and then mom washes that sin, er greasy dirt, right out and sexual innocence is restored without anyone actually dealing directly with their feelings or desires.

  18. bean says:

    Not so out in left field even you remember that someone making the commercial chose to show a clear handprint on the back of the skirt not just dark smudges all over the skirt.

  19. Fifi says:

    The handprint is on the front of the skirt (and not the crotch, “family” advertisers aren’t that dumb and a lot of advertisers aren’t really that self aware – seriously, people who work in advertising agencies often aren’t really that clever or aware, they buy into their own hype and market themselves as svengalis but a lot of that is marketing). I’d suspect that the advertisers merely chose the central story – dad disapproves of a skirt that’s not really very sexy (it’s virginal white, not nearly as short as girls really wear their skirts currently), does something passive aggressive and then wife thwarts him. It’s aimed at housewives in passive aggressive relationships and references a common issue that fathers and mothers often don’t see eye to eye on.

  20. bean says:

    Yes I watched it again and I see that it is not so obvious as I thought. But I still think what I said is true. The father is defiling an object of his daughters sexuality. And clearly the dad is the only one thinking how sexy this skirt is. The mom and daughter don’t think so.
    I liked fifi’s comments about clean vs besmirched. The mom is definitely involved in undoing the defilement which is interesting.
    Also, Imagine how this would seem if it were reversed gender wise. What if the mom was dirtying and hiding some sexy clothing object of the son. it would seem weird, right? Like some issue of the mom’s, some weirdness she was inflicting on the son.But we find it more socially normal and acceptable in a dad. No dating until you are 30and all that. If he were truly protecting her he would be more authoritative and not so sneaky and easily thwarted.

    • Rebecca says:

      It would only seem weird because boys don’t have the same kind of social constraints girls have. In order for your analogy to make any kind of modern sense, mom would have to be destroying his condoms, which is wrong on so many different levels (beyond the reverse Oedipus complex). Aside from that, there is truly just a different dynamic between parents-sons and parents-daughters. Girls need to be protected; boys need to be kept alive until they can be reasonably expected to take care of themselves.

      Also, mom’s aren’t usually the ones to “undo” the sexual damage done by a predatory father. “Pack your bags and get out, but hide the body first” not “I’d better call the cops on my husband.”

      I’m assuming you don’t have kids. To a parent, your hot 15 year old daughter isn’t a woman – your friend’s hot 15 year old daughter is a woman, but your baby girl is your baby girl and you’re hardwired to protect her from everything. There’s a reason parents despise incestuous molestation so much; it’s not someone exposing everyone’s “dirty little secret” it’s because it’s sick. Hella sick.

      The Oedipus/Electra complexes go in the child -> parent direction because parents (normal parents, with properly functioning brains) just don’t go there.

  21. BluegrassJack says:

    Any slacker working for less than a year in the Procter & Gamble marketing department will learn more about successful marketing than any college or university could teach over 4 years of classes.

    Of course, no slacker would ever be hired there in the first place.

  22. BluegrassJack says:

    What if…

    the man in the ad was a single mother’s live-in boyfriend? Would he have acted in the chuckle-headed way the biological father did?

    • foxfire says:

      Or if the live-in boyfriend had acted in exactly the same way as the biological father would it still be funny, or would it be creepy and wierd?

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      That commercial would not exist because it is assumed a recently adopted boyfriend of the mom would have no right making parental decisions for a teenage daughter of his girlfriend (who he is likely sexually attracted to anyway, assuming he just met her, and isn’t even remotely in a position to pretend to be a father).
      If the boyfriend acted this way it would be very out of line, since he cannot possibly be acting out of paternal love. We would draw the conclusion he was expressing inappropriate control, perhaps grooming her for abuse. By the end of the year he would be beating/molesting/raping her.

      If you saw some random kid on the street, or a new neighbor who moved in, would YOU interject into their life? Not unless you were a rapist psychopath who was aiming to control and exploit that person.

      • foxfire says:

        Yeah, that was kinda my point. Any man other than the girl’s biological father or maybe an adopted father who had raised her from a very young age who acted like this would come across as creapy and wierd.

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  24. lorgalis says:

    The problem with so many of these comments arguing about “the patriarchy” and “how men have screwed up society” and all that is that they do a couple of things:

    1. Show how adversarial American men and women really are with each other.
    2. Show how willing American men and women are to apply this adversarial dynamic to the entire history of men and women.

    The society that existed before the recognition of equal rights for women was participated in by both men and women, by and large, and it worked for what it was, because both genders (perhaps through equally limited understanding of human nature and ethics) worked together to make it work.

    • Fifi says:

      The past isn’t some mythical “society that worked” any better than society works today (depending what metrics you use and what time period you’re talking about, society actually works much better today in terms of longevity, general distribution of wealth, innovation, etc) . Society today is also participated in by both men and women – as it has been throughout time – otherwise we’d have no society.

      What past society are you actually talking about? 1950s American society? Victorian society? Hunter gatherers? The Middle Ages? Colonial America?

    • foxfire says:

      Add to that the Myth of Women didn’t have any political power before they gained the right to vote. Before the 19th amendment, and am pretty sure that there were plenty of women who wielded political power via proxy.

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