Due to the fact that my original historical object is ultrasound machines and at the time that it came out and even in this day and age it is not advertised very much or at all, I chose to look at ads focused on women at the time that ultrasound machines were first invented.
My first advertisement is a woman cooking breakfast and looking very happy. The advertisement is for a drug that reduces the symptoms of morning sickness so that even while she is pregnant, women can still do the normal duties of a wife. This ad came out in 1959, just a few years after the ultrasound machine was created. Many ads that I looked at this time period, including this one and the other two ads that I will be focusing on are very sexist. The ad is saying that even if you are sick because you are pregnant, you need to still maintain all of your normal duties as a wife. The fact that she is smiling in the picture could be due to the fact that she is no longer feeling sick, but the fact that she is smiling could also be contributed to the fact that she is happy cooking breakfast for either her family or her husband. She is also not obviously pregnant, which is interesting due to the fact that this ad is geared toward pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness. This could be to help men pay attention to the ad to widen the consumer consumption of the ad because there is an attractive woman in the ad instead of a large pregnant woman.
My second ad is also very sexist and came out in 1952, just four years prior to the invention of ultrasounds. I chose this ad to also show that sexism was prevalent before and after the invention of my historical object. This ad is for a coffee company. Like the first ad, it focuses highly on the duties of the wife to her husband. In this ad it shows that the wife should be making sure that she is buying fresh coffee and if she is not and her husband finds out, “woe be unto you!” This ad shows that if you do not perform your duties as a wife correctly and your husband finds out, you deserve to be subject to domestic violence from your husband. This ad is geared toward women and is trying to sell their product by saying that if you buy this product you won’t have to worry about disappointing your husband. This ad, like the last, shows that men are the dominant gender.
The third ad that I chose is of a woman holding a bottle of the product they are trying to sell and was published in 1961. I chose to analyze this ad because unlike the other two ads that showed men as the dominant gender, this ad shows women as being helpless and needing help to do simple tasks like opening bottles. The ad also underlines the word “woman” emphasizes that it is surprising that a woman can open this bottle and therefore showing the easy use of the bottle. This would appeal to consumers because the bottle is easy to open. This could be seen that since women are able to open this bottle they won’t have to ask their husbands to do it and can therefore complete their work more easily and efficiently. They could also open this bottle if their husband is not home to help them so they don’t have to wait for their husband to get home to complete their duties as a wife.
Analyzing all of these ads together paints a bleak picture for women around the time of the invention of ultrasound machines. It is also not just these ads that paint this picture; as looking through other ads, many of them showed women as the weaker gender. The first two ads show that wives have a specific role in the home and they need to complete their tasks to be a successful wife. The second one even goes as far to show the consequences of not doing your duties correctly and the first one shows that it doesn’t matter what state of health you are in, you must find a way to complete your duties. Overall, men are shown to be the dominant gender and women are expected to serve their husbands in any way they need. This theme was strewn across many more ads that I came across in my search for these three ads.
Kenwood Chef Advertisement. 1961. Postcard. You Mean a Woman Can Open It…? The
Woman’s Place in the Classic Age of Advertising. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media
Corporation, 1999. Print.
Chase & Sanborn. “If your husband ever finds out”. Life. 11 August 1952. 103. Web. 1 December 2014.
Mornidine. “Now she can cook breakfast again”. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1959. Web. 1 December 2014.