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EU Wants Women To Feel Empowered To Scrub Floors

Posted by: David Kiley on September 10, 2008


Imagine my surprise when I began reading The New York Times article about sexual stereotyping in ads that women want us to think that they are just as able to tackle a dirty floor as a man.


Again….say it more slowly. Maybe it will make sense. Can I have a show of digital hands on how many women are fighting their husbands for the honor of scrubbing the floor?

The European Parliament voted to 504 to 110 to scold advertisers for “sexual stereotyping,” adopting a nonbinding report that seeks to prod the industry to change the way it depicts men and women.
Says the Times: “The lawmakers’ ire has many targets, from a print ad for Dolce & Gabbana, which had a woman in spike heels pinned to the ground and surrounded by sweaty men in tight jeans) to Mr. Clean, the 1950s advertising icon whose muscular physique might imply that only a strong man is powerful enough to tackle dirt.”

The article also notes: In France, the Senate is considering a proposal — already passed in the National Assembly — to levy fines of up to 45,000 euros, or $64,000, for advertisements that promote or incite anorexia. The European Parliament took note of the issue during its debate last week, calling on advertisers “to consider carefully their use of extremely thin women to advertise products.”

Okay—that I can get my head around. I can also see discouraging advertisers from stereotyping Dads as household idiots and career Moms as neglectful of their kids. Going so far as fining advertisers for such behavior seems like a reach.

What’s next? Demanding that we have a Mr. Butterworth so as not to suggest that only stout women can make a mean pancake? Perhaps a LiL David, so Lil Debbie doesn’t get us thinking only little girls eat junk food. How about Mr. Goodwrench? Yikes. Let’s find a Mrs. Goodwrench and have her change a tire.

Poor Mr. Clean. In Europe, he is called “Mr. Proper.” I love that.

Now,I think I’ll go home and tell my wife that in the interest of equality and fairness, I am going to give her the honor of proving she can scrub the kitchen floor as well as I can.

Something tells me she would prefer flowers. I know I would.



News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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