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I Am Not Saved By Cleaning Products – Powerful Woman Monologue #3

January 30, 2012

About the Author: Shaba is 25, married, South Virginia dwelling displaced Yankee, dog mom, and fabulous feminist. She blogs at, tweets under the handle @aboho, and tumbles at She feels powerful when she’s wearing heels and holding a firearm–not necessarily at the same time.

Of the many, many offensive media messages we’re exposed to every day, I have to say that television cleaning commercials are the ones that continually drive me crazy. I hate the Swiffer commericals, where mostly female-represented grime particles are “saved” by the white knight of velcro cleaning pads. I hate the Charmin bath tissues bears where Mama Bear always seems to get the lovely job of “inspecting for pieces left behind,” um, gross. I think Papa Bear ought to take a turn. I hate the air freshener commercials where women use overpriced chemicals to try and convince their friends they made that pie “from scratch, honest!” I hate them all.

I don’t want to be saved by my cleaning products, Swiffer. I don’t want to shoot a knowing glance to my messy kids and husband while I rip a single sheet of Super Absorbent paper towel off the roll to clean up after them. I don’t want to think about whether I should still be sorting my laundry or how to remove those pesky spots off my dishes, and I don’t want to be bombarded with messages that I SHOULD be thinking about these things. More so, I don’t want to be bombarded with messages that I’m the only one  in my household who is concerned with these things.

As an avid tv watcher, cleaning product ads are just something I have to deal with (unless I had the foresight to dvr, and then I’m fastforwarding through those babies) so I try to make the best of them. My husband and I have conversations about how sexist they are and how ridiculous it is for a woman to be cleaning her bathroom in pearls and cardigans. We talk about how the media sends gendered messages to every age group, and how we will keep these conversations going when we have children in the future. We battle these messages the best way we can and hope that one day the advertising agencies will come around.

It is getting better, one small fresh scented step at a time.  I recently saw a commercial for a laundry product that caught me off guard. I can’t tell you what the product was, who it was by, or even definitively state that it was in fact for a laundry item, what I can tell you is that there was a man in the commercial.
A man!
And not the dummy-husband-who-needs-to-be-saved-by-his-domesticly-informed-wife man. This was a cleaning commercial without a woman. This was a commercial where a man was talking intelligently about doing a household chore. And when he was done talking about housework, he agreed to braid his daughter’s hair.
I may have applauded the television.

About the series: Powerful Woman Monologues are compiled in response to the media’s representation of women as inspired by the film Miss Representation. If you would like to participate, email me. Any kind of creative contribution is welcome from anyone.

Special thanks to Ashley of Little Leaf Photography & Design for graciously creating the badge for our series!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather B permalink
    January 30, 2012 12:02 pm

    I hate those cleaning commercials too. They don’t make me want to buy their product anymore than if they weren’t like that.

  2. January 31, 2012 12:22 pm

    I agree 100%. I don’t understand why men are represented as grown-up children and women portrayed as the saviors of housework. Gimme a break! Men can do the cooking and cleaning and women can do more than that. Even housewives and stay-at-home moms are capable of more than picking up a mop and baking pies. I do love pie however. Ha!

  3. January 31, 2012 7:40 pm

    Love this! It is so true. 99% of the cleaning commercials out there show an impeccably dressed woman happily cleaning the house. It is time for those stereotypes to be gone!

  4. February 1, 2012 10:30 pm

    Great post!

    These advertisements are so intricately linked to oppressive gender norms & concepts that it makes me want to fling something at my television every time it comes up. I wish I could say that this isn’t prevalent across the globe, but the ads are similar in pretty much every place I’ve ever been/lived.


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