When it comes to misogyny in advertising, 1947’s Pitney Bowes Postage Meter ad easily ranks in the top ten.
And that’s saying a lot in a culture that was prolific in sexist advertising.
In the ad we learn Pete Jones, has spent 6 months convincing the home office to finally purchase a Pitney Bowes Postage Meter for the office. But he hits a wall when the only stenographer he has, a redhead named Miss Morissey balks at using it. Pete tells his story:
“‘I’ve no mechanical aptitude. Machines mix me up, kind of,” she says. “As if we asked her to fly a P-80. I almost blow my top,” he recalls, clearly in need of anger management training.
He attempts to explain this modern efficient machine to the ditzy dame, explaining that “it’s practically heaven’s gift to the working girl…and so on. But with the Morissey, no soap.”
Mr. Jones continues his story:
“I try diplomacy. ‘Miss Morissey, I want you to personally try it for two weeks. If you don’t like it then-back it goes to the factory! Okay?’…She acts like an early Christian about to be lunch for a lion, but gives in.”
“So help me- two weeks later she has a big pink bow on the handle of the postage meter-like it was an orchid or something. I give it the gape.”
“‘Kinda cute, ain’t it,” says Miss Morissey. ‘But a very efficient machine, Mr Jones. Now the mail is out early enough so I get to the girl’s room in time to hear all of the dirt’.”
Exasperated Pete wonders finally :”Is it always illegal to kill a woman!”
These ads may cause a snicker but they are powerful enforcers of suffocating stereotypes and underlying assumptions of a culture that continues to reinforce traditional alpha masculinity and submissive femininity.
Truth or Consequences
The vile misogynist manifesto written by the madmen who killed 6 innocent people in California has inspired the #YesAllWomen twitter movement to draw attention against violence to women at the hands of men.
Elliot Rodger’s rants may seem as antiquated as these sexist vintage ads but his attitudes continue to permeate our culture in subtle ways with devastating consequences.
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