The 1970s in America highlighted women’s fight for advancement and liberation from their lives formally known as homemakers and caregivers. Although women had the right to vote for over fifty years, the Equal Rights Amendment had still not passed since it had been introduced to congress in 1923. With the inequality still widespread, it came as no surprise women were still fighting for their equality in all aspects of their lives. Many women in this time turned to newspapers and magazines for the news and advice on the topic of women’s liberation. One such magazine, Redbook, targeted young married women with children. Although the magazine did contain several articles discussing women’s advancement, Redbook in 1971 perpetuated traditional gender roles as women being housewives and men being the working factor of the family.
A large portion of Redbook is advertisements. They are meant to pander to women and the items women would want to buy for themselves, which included undergarments, cosmetics, and weight loss programs; this is strikingly similar to the advertisements featured in the women’s magazines of today. Along with the traditional women’s items featured throughout Redbook were advertisements for items such as cigarettes, children’s clothing, furniture, and men’s clothing. The majority of the ads shown were very sexist, and some exploitive of the women’s rights movement.
Virginia Slims cigarettes were the main exploiters of the feminist movement using their campaign slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”1 In all their full-page ads, they feature a woman dressed in pants and smoking their cigarettes. The top half of the page shows women attempting to smoke in public and men not allowing it. Another of their ads following the same tone shows men in a bar with the caption, “The neighborhood bar, voting, and cigarettes are for men only…just like pants.” Virginia Slims uses smoking as an example of a previously male dominated activity, and now that women can do it as well they should do it as an act of feminism and how far they have come. However, the ads also proved to be slightly contradictory as in the fine print it describes how Virginia Slims cigarettes are thin and not like the “fat cigarettes” that men smoke. The exploitation of the women’s rights movement and the addition of how their cigarettes are made for women display how women were still being told that they need to maintain femininity even while doing manly tasks such as smoking. Roper Appliances had an ad for a gas and electric self cleaning stoves with the tagline “Roper votes for women’s lib!”2 There are women on the half-page advertisement holding protest signs reading “No pot watching!” and “No oven scrubbing!” In the ad, it discusses how using a new Roper range will give women more freedom in the kitchen and by choosing a Roper range women will make their “vote for women’s lib really count!”4 While the advertisement is meant to draw similarities to the women’s rights movement erupting at the time, it comes across as almost mocking the struggle. It jokes around about how women will get freedom from the boring activities in the kitchen, such as pot watching and scorched pans, but ignoring the fact that they are implying women will be remaining in the kitchen and performing traditional female duties, such as cooking and cleaning, for their families. Along with the kitchen duty advertisements is an ad for Du Pont’s Teflon II featured in pots and pans. The ad has the Teflon II seal with writing above it reading, “Look for this seal and don’t get stuck in the kitchen.”3 By using pots and pans with Teflon II, the women will be able to spend less time in the kitchen doing their feminine tasks such as cooking and cleaning. Although they say using it will let the women not “get stuck in the kitchen,” they are still saying women will be doing the conventional womanly task in the kitchen, similar to the Roper advertisement. Not every...
Cited: Armstrong, "Place ‘n Press Excelon Tile Advertisement" (1971), advertisement [from Redbook Magazine, (New York: Hearst Publications, October 1971)].
Coty, "Emeraude parfum" (1970), advertisement [from Redbook Magazine, (New York: Hearst Publications, January 1971)].
Du Pont, "Teflon II Advertisement" (1971), advertisement [from Redbook Magazine, (New York: Hearst Publications, April 1971)].
Eve Cigarettes, "Eve Cigarette Advertisement" (1971), advertisement [from Redbook Magazine, (New York: Hearst Publications, February 1971)].
International Correspondence Schools, "International Correspondence Schools Advertisement" (1971), advertisement [from Redbook Magazine, (New York: Hearst Publications, February 1971)].
La-Z-Boy Chair Company, "La-Z-Boy Advertisement" (1971), advertisement [from Redbook Magazine, (New York: Hearst Publications, June 1971)].
Roper Appliances, "Roper Appliances Advertisement" (1971), advertisement [from Redbook Magazine, (New York: Hearst Publications, May 1971)].
Virginia Slims, "Virginia Slims Advertisement" (1971), advertisement [from Redbook Magazine, (New York: Hearst Publications, March 1971)].
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