Samsung’s “Evolutionary Husband” Raises Sexism Controversy

STORY BY Grace Jung

Published: May 28, 2013

Samsung recently came out with a commercial that has been met with strong criticism from the male demographic. Men are calling the ad “sexist” and are even organizing boycotts for Samsung products. So what exactly is causing all the rage and fire?

The commercial, which now has over 10 million views on YouTube, features a woman fantasizing about using Samsung’s latest product on her Neanderthal-like male partner. The product enables the male partner to complete all sorts of tasks that are stereotypically completed by women, such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children. It sounds relatively harmless and rather similar to countless other commercials we see on everyday television—right?

Not exactly.

In Samsung’s commercial, the profile of the male partner is taken to a whole new level. He is sloppily eating food while stupidly gazing at an equally dumb cartoon. He even appears unable to speak a language, for he simply grunts a few times and does not speak at all for the entirety of the commercial. Men are utterly outraged by this extreme projection of the “lazy male” stereotype and claim this is blatant, unfair sexism.

So the question remains…is it sexist?

The simple answer is yes, and there’s no getting around that. But whether or not it’s sexism should not be the focus of this controversy. If anything, it should be on the responses. Highly rated comments on YouTube and other news outlets covering this story prove that the men who are most offended by this commercial do not understand the sheer irony of their rage.

Women are subject to extreme, stereotypical projections of their gender role every single day, whether it is in the media or the workforce. Women are equally as offended by these extreme projections, but when they decide to speak out as feminists, they are told that they are “overreacting” and making a big issue out of nothing. Worse, their extreme projections have far more dangerous roots. They are sexually objectified in the media and normalized in rape culture and domestic violence. The extreme stereotype portrayed in the Samsung commercial, on the other hand, does not share those roots.

The men who are most offended by this commercial, in other words, are finally having “a taste of their own medicine.”

But this is in no way condoning the commercial’s creative direction. If anything, it’s actually counterproductive to feminism. As a feminist, I ask women and men to engage in strong, intelligent, and political conversations about women’s rights and issues. Those conversations can be combative and do not necessarily have to end with one side being right over the other.

However, the foundation for all those conversations is respect. But the responses to this commercial have been—ironically enough—quite sexist and disrespectful to women, and I simply believe that feminists and feminist allies do not have to stoop down to the same level in order to win the fight.

At any rate, Samsung’s enjoying the free publicity.

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