How can washing machines connect up to sexism in tech?

// 12 December 2008

To find out, follow these simple steps.

Step One:

Watch this advert for a Seimens washing machine (but not if you’re at work!)

Link: Fleg Master Tlpizza

Step Two:

Read this post about it, on TechCrunch, by high-profile tech blogger Michael Arrington.

Via girlonetrack

Comments From You

Lea // Posted 12 December 2008 at 10:59 am

Oh for cod’s sake, will the world grow up and move on from this bollocks already?

a) nothing to do with washing machines

b) old man in a suit

c) beauty standards – young, white women with fake breasts (mostly/all blonde?)

d) unrealistic – wouldn’t one need a bra on to parachute, I can’t imagine the pain of doing it without one? Also people don’t file their nails after they’ve put nail varnish on, that would chip it, duh

e) idiotic blonde stereotype strikes again

f) I’m never going to buy anything from Seimens, ever

Qubit // Posted 12 December 2008 at 11:36 am

I can’t comment fully as I can’t watch the video due to being at work but it strikes me as lots of breasts means a commercial designed to sell to men. I know it is a sexist stereotype but I’d imagine it is fairly true that in a lot of cases the women does most of the washing. The conclusions from this could be it is designed to encourage men to buy as a present for women or that it is expected that men are in charge of big purchases like this. I guess it might be designed to appeal to men who do their own washing but I am sad to say I don’t see this being a large target market. (Note, I don’t think men are incapable of doing their washing but it isn’t a fun so a lot don’t).

As for nudity I think female nudity is fairly normal and accepted and I think this is just going to become more so. I also think while the body image is unrealistic this isn’t going to change because nobody wants to see a normal person when they can see someone who is the ideal. I can see why feminism objects to such images but I think they will never be got rid of they are what the majority of people both male and female want.

The responses on the board show how effective the image was at selling things to guys and I don’t think such images put many women off. As was posted on the board many straight women much prefer naked women to naked men or at least feel more comfortable with it. In the end I think it is a lost cause trying to change it and I am not sure we should anyway.

Jess McCabe // Posted 12 December 2008 at 11:44 am


You’re commenting on what you assume the advert is showing, not what it is actually showing.

It’s not naked women I find objectionable, far from it! It’s the advert in the whole, the way that women are presented, the way it’s filmed and, well, everything about it. Really, I’m not sure there’s much point into getting into a discussion about the advert with someone who hasn’t seen it, though, and is just guessing what I find problematic about it(!!!)

Leigh // Posted 12 December 2008 at 12:22 pm

There have been topless sky dives and tits DON’T stay that shape in free fall. NSFW. This advert is like everything wrong with gender and society distilled into 2minutes and 45 seconds. Worse, it attempts the pathetic ‘but it’s ironic’ excuse by making the sky divers an advert within an advert, as if they were some kind of comment on the messages used to convey product quality.

Depresso // Posted 12 December 2008 at 2:06 pm

The whole ad just made me feel queasy.

And Qubit’s supposition that it’s aimed at men to encourage them to buy the washing machine “as a present for women” is just hysterical! From where my husband and I are, a washing machine is a household necessity, not a gift idea!

Qubit // Posted 12 December 2008 at 5:03 pm

I didn’t mean to imply a washing machine was a good gift idea but it is fairly common to hear of women receiving irons etc.

I remember reading a discussion on wedding lists which mentioned that items like Playstations were now going on them because men were getting to put on what they wanted. This implied the normal items on such a list plates, irons, ironing boards, microwaves etc are items for women and could be seen as equivalent.

I think giving someone an iron for Christmas is insulting, I’d feel the same about a washing machine however that doesn’t mean I don’t think a significant minority of people will give gifts of this type.

Bekk // Posted 12 December 2008 at 8:06 pm


Get real, It’s like something from the fifties but with tits!

Rose // Posted 12 December 2008 at 8:35 pm

Sick sad world.

What I took from that it a sweet sentimental reminding that that house slave that does your dishes is also a piece of meat, there for your amusement, and in need to orders to follow, (from being lead onto the aircraft, being utter bimbos, and all powerful/prefessional sorts shown to be male… and looking in an un-fatherly fashion at the comparative children).

Just reminds me of my utter contempt for the patriarchy, really.

The Boggart // Posted 12 December 2008 at 8:56 pm

Racist, ageist and sexist, or should just that be “young white women and their gravity-defying, silicone enhanced breasts”?

As a feminist, for me the icing on the cake was the additional “dumb blond” stereotype at the end. I also agree with Qubit’s suggestions that Siemens felt that men were more likely to be involved with the “big” domestic purchases.

However, as a consumer – admittedly a female heterosexual one – the advert failed on every level. It was far too long, there was no real coherent narrative, its attempt at humour is best left undescribed, the aesthetic is ludicrously outdated, and it told me absolutely nothing about the product.

In fact, the only amazing thing about it is that despite the credit crunch marketing types are still being paid to churn out this sort of hackneyed drek in the name of edginess.

Finally, am I the only one who doesn’t get the gormless style of self-consciously “sexy” poses and smirking that always appears in these sorts of adverts?

Oh, and one more thing – can *anybody* imagine the advert’s opposite ever being made; pouting muscle-bound “hunks” dropping out of the sky, genitals flapping in the breeze, to the obvious delight of middle-aged *female* golfers. Whilst I admit that in advertising there have been a few exceptions to the rule of men leering at beautiful female models, they are only a drop in the vast ocean of media surrounding us, such as the infamous Diet Coke ones. The adverts are always for “girly indulgences” such as chocolate or fat-free yoghurt dessert replacements and the women “leering” are always young and beautiful. I bring this up because it is just another way in which I have noticed that our society strips women of their sexuality past the age of forty. Of course, in ad-land it’s only natural that overweight, balding, middle-aged men are allowed to leer at pretty young girls.

Sorry for the rant, but since starting to read Feministing and other feminist blogs I have become much more aware of the cultural weight which advertising exerts and of the mirror which it simultaneously holds up to our society’s unspoken assumptions and deepest desires.

SnowdropExplodes // Posted 12 December 2008 at 11:35 pm

I can’t help but feel it would be a lot more amusing (and therefore a better advert) if the genders were reversed in the video.

Not that unrealistic beauty standards are okay if they’re aimed at men, of course.

(Although, it would be extremely funny if you got to see their agonised expressions when they pull the ripcord, and the harness bites into their privates! Sorry, my sadist side acting up there…)

tom hulley // Posted 13 December 2008 at 9:53 am

I was thinking of the exploitation at work side. People argue that there is a choice about appearing in adverts but when you are young and poor and trying to break into entertainment it is a tough choice. Young actors and dancers are asked by agents if they are willing to appear nude but saying ‘no’ may mean fewer offers of work. Advertising can keep people fed while they are waiting for a better break.

I suspect it would be easy to criticise the women in the advert for pandering to sexism but they are victims of it too.

Advertising often treats people as objects -what about those dreadful Halifax ones where people are moved around to create images? Yuk!

I remember an old old ad when a woman was sniffing her ironing (man’s shirt) and fantasing a romantic evening – as if drudgery were an erotic dream.

Try complaining to the advertising standards people and they just come up with excuses.

Matt // Posted 16 December 2008 at 10:34 am

I don’t disagree with anything here, the ad is clearly sexist. But I’ve read similar arguements about sexist arguements in the past… and you know why advertising like this is still here? Because it works. It’s not an advertiser’s job to ensure they don’t offend you (up to a point), but it IS to sell as many of their client’s units as possible. Don’t forget – it’s not YOU who is being advertised to. You are clearly all relatively smart people, but you are also in the minority, so they’re just playing the numbers game. The amount of dimwits who will respond to an ad because they got a cheap thrill out of seeing some tits or a laugh out of a sexist stereotype far outnumber the people who are likely to get offended and refuse to buy the product in question. Call it exploitation, but if it works to flog units, advertisers will keep on doing it to both women and men.

Jess McCabe // Posted 16 December 2008 at 12:53 pm

@Matt To which I say, what’s your point?

That doesn’t justify them putting out an offensive advertising campaign.

Sabre // Posted 16 December 2008 at 1:30 pm

It would have been much better with falling men, then they could have played it to ‘It’s raining men’ by the Weathergirls! I love that video.

Er, that woman who fell into a pool without a parachute would have been killed. But I suppose the rest of the ad was totally ridiculous, why stop there?

Leigh // Posted 16 December 2008 at 2:38 pm

@ Matt- The people would devise and produce the ad have the creative power to do something else. They may also, as participants in a mass media culture, choose to follow ethical guidelines that exclude using sexism, racism or misogyny as part of their work. They are members of a shared culture and contribute to it through their output. They choose to use sexism as a tool here, when they could have chosen something else. Creatives have the power to change their clients’ minds and the expectations of the public through their work, here they chose not to and it’s up to us, the audience to pick them up on why.

gtluke // Posted 24 December 2008 at 5:12 am

that was awesome!

endlessMyk // Posted 24 December 2008 at 6:27 pm

Were they selling washing machines? Flights? Skydiving trips? It wins.

Commercial was great. It accomplished everything it was out to do. It got your attention, kept you captivated, and sold it’s product (or maybe two products).

Would watch again.

endlessMyk // Posted 24 December 2008 at 6:34 pm

I’d also like to point out that if this commercial featured a bunch of naked guys doing the same thing none of you would complain. Well, except maybe the ones who just found the sight of dick to be offensive and wrong.

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