this commercial for ravioli-in-a-can pretty much stopped me in my tracks, and it was unexpected, to say the least. i didnt expect to have anything to say about it, but there you go. the thing about radfem analysis is that it applies to literally everything.
here, we have a girl with a “security blanket” thats male. male. a male security blanket. and judging by his voice and mannerisms, he appears to be quite a bit older than she is. and he “wants to snuggle.” the second girl has a male security blanket too, which she doesnt want anyone to know about: young bridget is keeping a secret. about a presumably-also-older male blanket named “rick” from whom she gets security and comfort. okay!
there are a lot of things that probably deserve our attention here: grooming young girls to accept “security” and comfort from men, when in reality men are whats wrong with women and womens lives, due to mens PIV-entitlement and the epidemic of mens sexualized violence against women, as a sexual class around the world. young girls getting sexual attention from men, or older men. young girls keeping secrets about all of this.
but what interests me at the moment is the blanket’s voice: a vulgar-sounding older mans voice. why did they use this, when they had thousands or hundreds of thousands of other voices to choose from? thousands upon thousands of unemployed and working actors, and virtually unlimited digital and mechanized voices they couldve created in a lab, and they chose this one. why?
without re-imagining this commercial in literally infinite ways with the infinite number of other voices available, lets imagine if it were a womans voice: if a female played the part of “blankey”. if she said “lets snuggle” at the end, it could sound maternal or it could sound lesbian: are both equally unacceptable? i dont know, but they didnt choose a female voice and there is absolutely a reason for that. dangerous, sexualized attention from men, even as applied to minor female children, is more acceptable than maternal attention, and its waaaay more acceptable than lesbian attention isnt it? even though both maternal and lesbian attention arent going to get you pregnant. they arent likely to get you raped, by men. they arent going to remove you from the relative safety of the women in your life because they *are* the women in your life.
so what is the advertising agency creating advertising for chef boyardee really selling here? they are selling heterosexuality. they are selling dangerous male sexuality and sexual attention as “comfort” and security for women and girls, even very young girls. they are running far, far away from lesbianism, or any hint of lesbianism, even a whiff of it would be too much. even when it would be less creepy and pedophilic to have a womans voice here than a mans, they dont care about creepy and pedophilic: they care about not sounding lesbian, and not evoking either lesbianism or maternalism. not evoking female, even in the context of feeding children. its weird mkay? the lengths to which they have gone here, to leave out female entirely, in a sexualized and feeding-context involving young girls. why they felt they had to sex it up in the first place, is, of course, an issue as well. childrens food, and sexualizing childrens food? really?
in case anyone wonders, advertising hasnt always been this way, and it hasnt always been this way for this brand either: here are some vintage boyardee commercials, where what they are “selling” is very obvious. what they used to sell is food. nutrition, taste, and value. 15 cents per serving!
why are they working so hard to sell men and heterosex currently, in any and all contexts? and why are they specifically targeting young girls, and selling them on men and older men, when they are very young? this is a serious question. could it be that heterosex and heterosexuality are a hard sell now, and that it didnt used to be this way? it is possible that women and girls can see freedom from here, or some version of it, and need our vision obscured and diverted? interestingly, childrens “convenience food” can be read as being liberating for already-heterosexed women with children, who dont have time or energy to provide homecooked meals *and* do other things, like performing wage-labor or going to school. so while women may (or may not be) using these products this way, its advertising is grooming very young girls to accept men and heterosex uncritically, so they end up needing “childrens convenience food” just the way their mothers did, instead of oh say, not having kids at all, or having them in the context of extended communities of women that share caretaking duties including providing food and security from men, and mens sexually predatory behavior, and all the ills men and heterosex are known to cause women, as a sexual class, around the world.
and…what would the fun-fems probably have to say about this one? i wonder. since they dont criticize mens PIV-entitlement and the female specific harms of the penis at all, if they said anything about it, they would probably be limited to addressing the pedophilic implications here, and say or imply that it had the same effect on boys and men. but they would be wrong about that, wouldnt they? not when “pedophile” and “heterosexual” and het-partnering look so much the fucking same, and they do look the same, from the perspective of girls and women who are the targets of abusive male sexual attention for our entire lives. and when the end-result of sexualized male abuse for girls and women ends up being indistinguishable from a beloved institution: motherhood, marriage, and the nuclear family.