Radfem-ological Images (Yoplait and Febreze)

by FCM

is scaring women in real life a new advertising schtick?  how about evoking serial killers and amateur porn?  i guess so, judging by these ads.  i found these to be deeply troubling and anxiety-producing, which doesnt make me want to eat, and it doesnt make me want to take long deep breaths of freshness (or of anything).  so what do these ads for yoplait yogurt and febreze “fabric refresher” accomplish, who are they targeting, and why?

the above ad features two women being scared shitless by some dood that jumps out at them menacingly appears unexpectedly from inside a vending machine.  the women respond with observable fear, including quick, involuntary muscle movements, vocalizing and retreating.  dood speaks to them as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened using a calm tone and not acknowledging what he just did.  one woman is then given food to eat, and is given praise for eventually “smiling”, a facial expression which is notably absent during the entire exchange.  (is this real?  who knows.)

heres another ad for yoplait in the same vein:

febreze has taken a similar approach to hawking its chemical brew: they blindfold women, bring them into unexpected places under false pretenses designed to invoke terror, and then film the womens response.  again, i dont know if this is real or not, but the effect is extremely anxiety-producing as we observe women being duped, frightened, then mocked, and soothed.  the sets used in the febreze commercials are also evocative of serial killers and amateur porn: one features copius amounts of carved meat, blood and bone, while another resembles a filthy basement dungeon filled with dangerous animals and dirty linens (and a porn-tastic three-cushion couch!  oh goody!)

here, have a seat on this filthy disgusting couch (it has three cushions!!!1!1!) thats been god knows where!  follow our instructions while blindfolded!  there are numerous potentially dangerous animals in the room, including a dog.  oh, you dont like dogs?  oh well.

interestingly, that one is done documentary-style, and during the after-interview one of the women admits feeling “violated” by the whole process (while the other reveals that she doesnt feel violated, because shes a “good sport”.)  violating women to the point that they actually admit to feeling violated!  yay!  now thats good advertising, whether its real or not.

heres another one: following in the same vein evoking serial killers and porn, this one features cut-up animals and blood.  i also was left with the distinct impression of knives being there, like, everywhere, but when i watched it over again, i didnt actually see any.  i guess the meat was carved with a wet noodle, or a tulip (or perhaps the animal’s corpse was dismembered by one of the chopsticks in the sink?)  interestingly, i dont see a single sharp object in this entire kitchen, which strikes me as bizarre, because clearly this scenario involves the use and presence of knives, but they have been removed, or hidden.  why?  would it have gone too far to blindfold women and bring them into a dank secluded meat-porn dungeon and to then also have them surrounded by knives?  did someone decide this?  i wonder.

does anyone see a single knife in this kitchen?

to round it out, heres one from woolite that perhaps even more-obviously evokes serial killers and porn, in advertising allegedly targeting women and creating consumerist-desire.  in case there was any lingering doubt that this is now a “thing” in modern advertising.  apparently, it is.

women being humiliated, terrorized, then mocked, and soothed.  these emotionally-charged scenarios being combined with an orchestrated/forced evaluation of desire, needs and wants (consumerism).  us being targeted in this way in our own living rooms, with the full physiological cycle of engagement, arousal and resolution taking place in as little as 17-seconds (but the effects linger much longer).  more of the death-by-a-thousand-cuts that women experience daily, at the hands of patriarchal institutions and male-centric culture, as well as actually moving product off the shelf.  i find it overwhelming in its evil-ingenuity that advertising must do and be both of these things, but it must, mustnt it?  it only benefits men that we are constantly, constantly reminded that we are targets of sexualized violence; that we are shocked, poked, and prodded, and subjected to adrenaline-rushes and unable to relax anywhere, at any time, so long as theres a television on.  and it benefits all men, including the ones selling stuff, that we process all of this in the context of consumerism: desire, protectionism, and fulfillment.

clearly, the intent here isnt *just* to move product, but also to reproduce “gender” and dom/sub in a tangible way,  by subjecting us to the toxic chemical brew that bubbles up when we are afraid, and giving men boners as they watch.  these things change and affect us, physically.  this is intentional.  its not just “sexist” its actually much, much worse.

27 Comments to “Radfem-ological Images (Yoplait and Febreze)”

  1. I stay way the hell away from “products”, “communications”, and “entertainment”. Thanks for the descriptions; I was thereby spared the necessity to watch any of those video-clips.

    Males have nothing to sell us but death, and whatever they have plundered (and then polluted) from the Earth.

  2. i agree mary. men are constantly evoking, manufacturing, selling and worshipping death. i even found a toaster online that makes toast with an image of a skull-and-crossbones. as if thats what a normal human being would want to look at while they are eating breakfast. its 24/7 with them isnt it? its fucking everywhere, in all the corners, in every nook and cranny.

    toaster here:

    more on mens necrophilic tendencies here:

  3. ugh! i can’t even believe the woolite commercial! they are all disgusting, but that one will give me nightmares. it’s so depressing that the general public lives with these messages without questioning them.

  4. A less horrifying, but still misogynist commercial from Febreze which annoys me: A housewife is staying home to do housework, but actually goes out and has lunch with friends, comes home and squirts Febreze around, so when hubby comes home he thinks she’s been slaving all day, since it smells so clean. Yeah, that’s all there is to cleaning, us lazy bitches have it so easy.

  5. yes those are really aggravating. the ones where the doods are satisfied or pleased to see that their wives are proper slaves, and can police themselves while the doods are away. apparently men are so stupid that putting some flour on your nose indicates “cooking” to them, even when there is nothing on the table that would require actual flour to make (like rice krispies treats) so thats good to know.

  6. So we have the role of the man whose actions and words are in conflict, plus the willing victims role of women. Women must never trust themselves. They must always trust the words of men and disregard the men’s actions and their own reactions.
    Gee, where have I seen that before? Everywhere, all the effing time, throughout my life.
    Cultural conditioning must be constantly reinforced else the cracks begin to show.
    Sometimes I think that girls haven’t got a chance. How can they wade through the FOG (fear obligation guilt) when the effing FOG machine never shuts down for a second.

  7. Yes exactly! Don’t believe your lying eyes laydees, believe what I SAY not what I DO. And PS you’re crazy, over reactive, and mean!!!11!11

  8. Criminy. That was eye-opening — a great post.

    Have you read Augusten Burroughs “Sellevision” about his years as an ad exec? I don’t like Burroughs much, but one thing really stayed with me: Ad lingo for two women discussing a domestic product in a commercial is is “Two C’s in a K.”

    Two c**** in a kitchen.

  9. I have never reached a point where I think ‘things have never been worse’, because for the patriarchy what ever its politics requires to keep re-inventing the notion that womon are inferior, foolish, easliy duped and their own worse enemy……hence viable targets for all kinds of death mayhem…..to sooth their SCUMness…

    I agree that girls barely have a chance to exist as human beings with all the FOG that beats them everyday…..

    Nothing shocks me about the depravity of men……

  10. I thought I’d seen the worst that commercials would throw at me, but those are just sick. I think sex in advertising is finally being surpassed by violence. I guess that shows that men get a stronger release out of brutishness than anything.

    Kudos to you, ad execs, for showing us the true colors of men once again.

  11. Thanks for the eye-opening post + comments.

    “women being humiliated, terrorized, then mocked, and soothed”.

    It’s exactly like the cycles of violence used by abusive partners: Terror/violence & threat of violence, humiliation, blackmail (etc). Then for a while he’s all nice again and say he’s soo sorry and he will never do it again, so he gets the victim confused, she begins to hope that he’s worth staying with => this triggers or reinforces the trauma bonding effect – until he progressively starts being violent again, up to the point of another “violence crisis” – usually the violence escalates every time, thereby increasing the victim’s tolerance to violence and pushing her limits.

    The soothing part is so integral to violence against women in general. It always gets the victim confused, guilt-tripped or trauma-bonded and prevents her from naming the violence immediately – since he’s nice to me he can’t have been violent could he? Nobody will believe me, he’s so nice, etc.

    Two c’s in a K. That’s horrible, but unsurprising really. Ads have always only been about selling women to men, male bonding over the humiliation of women or terrorising women into subordination, whichever the product they find as a pretext.

  12. “Nothing shocks me about the depravity of men……”

    Totally agree. Their obsession with rape, death and destruction is limitless. What would surprise me profoundly would be the opposite, them stopping their mass reckless, necrophilic and misogynistic stupidity.

  13. Ugh, the Febreze one has been driving me insane for a while now. The part at the end where she says “Hello?” and no one answers is actually where it ends in the TV edit (!!!!) and I feel so gross every time I hear it 😦 I’ve been waiting for it to show up in the feminist blog world.

  14. yes that “hello” at the end is disturbing, and yes the clip i posted here is *not* the television edit. i had never even seen this docu-style one before yesterday when i found it on you tube. i still cant tell if its real or not, and her “hello” actually doesnt help me evaluate that bc i would like to think that she would be more visibly pissed off or shaken if she took off her blindfold and saw what she saw, if it were real, and particularly if she felt “violated” by it. but i also know that we are so conditioned to NOT respond with anger (or even violence) when we are violated this way that its believable either way. i still dont know what to make of it.

    ive been wondering about the lack of knives in the kitchen as well. if this were real, and they knew the women would be terrorized when they realized where they were, is it possible that they removed the knives so the women wouldnt use them in self-defense? or…were they removed so that the women wouldnt accidentally cut themselves as they were wandering around blindfolded? or what? the entire concept and scenario is beyond bizarre. i didnt even know what to say about it at first, and i am sure theres much more to say about it. please, discuss!

  15. Well, I’d say they retrieved the knives for safety reasons because of the blindfolds and in case one women would take a knife (or stumble on one accidentally) out of fear when seeing all the butchered animals. In any case seeing the knives plus the meat everywhere must be way more frightening, so maybe it’s also to reduce the possible trauma.

    Plus the accent is meant to be on smelliness and dirtiness rather than butcherlike horrorfilm-ness, so I guess the presence of knives might have distorted the message or could have been too easily spotted as abusive. Dunno…

  16. i dont believe for one second that anyone considered reducing the trauma for these women. if anything there were probably legal concerns. i smell the legal department’s hand in this one actually, although we will never know for sure!

  17. My guess is the scene was a prop rather than a real kitchen. I mean, what restaurant would allow or agree to having their kitchen to look like that and risk the health dept shutting them down? There’s so many code violations, it’s ridiculous. So it’s not that the knives were removed, it’s that the prop men probably never brought them in to begin with. It’s not only knives which are missing. I don’t see any utensils at all. Not even a spoon. But yes, good idea not to bring knives to the scene of the crime. You never know how people might react.

    When the dude jumped out of the vending machine, I flashed on my childhood and my brothers jumping out at me every chance they got. After all, terrorism begins at home. Sisters and/or other female relative are usually the first to serve as target practice for the boys. But it didn’t work. I was born with this flaw. I have a very unhealthy lack of fear. So they could jump out at me until the cows came home and I wouldn’t flinch an inch. However, after I was trained in martial arts, it became a problem. Especially when combined with my deafness. Folks who live with me know to make a lot of noise and yell out to me that they’re home. Otherwise, if I come round the corner and run into them, I’m likely to strike first and ask questions later. Which, unfortunately, has happened several times. IOWs, if some strange dude jumped out of a vending machine at me, I’d be likely to take his head off. So I highly recommend that women learn martial arts. Maybe after women have taken enough men’s heads off, men will find a new hobby other than terrorizing women.

  18. LOL Lucky! That’s such an amazing skill! To just instantly attack like a knee-jerk effect when scared. It would have been great to see you cut the guy’s head off in the ad. Unfortunately I don’t have this super “flaw” (amazing power!) and get scared really easily.
    Men tickle ou scare women all the time for fun, even as adults. As a teenager, I remember that tickling or scaring women was a way for boys to show their “interest” to the girls. It’s just a form of emotional abuse, a way to enforce hypervigilance and to assert power + to ridiculise women women often shriek in fear, but it’s always brushed off as a joke.

  19. @witchwind – a lack of fear is a flaw and not healthy. It worried my poor mother to no end. I don’t have enough sense to zip it up or run when I should. I’m also prone to risk-taking. All of which has often put me in harm’s way. That’s why it’s a flaw.

    Knee-jerk reaction? Sort of. But it’s more like reflex. It’s drilled into you until it becomes reflex. The problem? Reflexes are much quicker than thoughts. You react before you think. Good for when dudes jump out at you. Not so good when grandma comes around the corner and startles you.

    Scaring people can be a form of torture. Tickling can also be a form of torture. So when boys/men scare or tickle girls/women, their motive is often sadism and torture. As my mother taught me, it ceases to be playing the moment someone puts their hands on you. It’s a good rule to go by. Cuz men will often inflict torture/pain and tell you they were just joking/playing. I have an ex who was real sadistic like that. One day he kept snapping clothespins on my ears. Three times I told him it hurt and to stop it. But he kept right on doing it. So I decked him. He started crying like a little baby and said, “I was only playing.” I said, “So was I. Why aren’t you laughing?” Everyone in the room got mad at me and said, “He was just playing.” I turned the tables right back on them and said, “I was just playing too. Where’s your sense of humor?” It’s, of course, a typical case of the good old double-standard. One rule for the boys. Another for the girls. When boys inflict torture/pain, it’s playing. When girls do it, even when it’s in self-defense, they’re just mean and can’t take a joke. Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to live with being mean. :p

  20. @Luckynkl, ok thanks for your reply, I see what you mean. I feel sorry about your grandma!
    You’re right, it IS sadistic torture (scaring, tickling, prodding, etc), especially when done repetitively and over long periods of time. Ugh that ex seems like an awful bully. Soooooo typical though! I wonder if any women *hasn’t* experienced this. Good thing you even reacted and that he got what he derserved, even though it was turned against you. Many women are too emotionally vulnerable to fight back.

    Having said that, sometimes I do wish I would be less fearful. I always hated violence so I never defended myself, as result I was constanty trampled on. But my fear of men came from my growing awareness of how dangerous they are, and from personal experience. Fear is horrible, it eats you from the inside and paralyses you completely. When I first started to properly react it felt so liberatory!

    “As my mother taught me, it ceases to be playing the moment someone puts their hands on you.”

    That’s an amazing limit to tell to girls! I’ll keep that in the back of my mind.

  21. i wish my mother and grandmother had given us that advice about playing vs touching! grandpa was all hands and he smelled funny, and we all hated him. grandma made us “give grandpa a lovin’!” (EW) my mom didnt make us do anything and i think she told us we could refuse, but i dont think she ever told either one of them that grandpa better not touch any of us ever again. luckily grandpa wasnt overtly sexual that i recall, although he did beat all of his own children with belts. and all our uncles ruthlessly tickled us. not surprisingly, the only girl in the family, my aunt, never had any interest in men. i dont know what they all did to her over the years, but i am sure it was terrible. im actually really proud of her that she never married. i mean really, why would she? she knew better than anyone what men are all about, and she probably knew this very young and throughout her life. she was the oldest of 5 kids and the only girl.

  22. Wow, that woolite one particularly gruesome – seriously wtf???
    Thebewilderness is right, this stuff is 24/7 and aimed at females. Which is why I don’t watch broadcast TV any more (and in the UK when you do that, and no longer buy a TV licence, an arm of the government will hound you with threatening letters and visits, so the scare factor doesn’t go away!)

    Advertising has always followed porn, albeit about 15 years or so behind. Just look at the average shampoo ad, lingering on naked women in the shower, rather than say… the results of the product. Having this version of softcore porn in your living room is thoroughly offensive. And it seems now advertisers have moved into the horror/torture genre.

    The woolite one has the serial killer feel because it appears that all the clothes are female clothing (and basically used as a substitute for a female). Females are also the majority of victims of serial killers. Anyway, the ad is creepy and I will know to avoid this product (and continue to buy supermarket generic products without this hype). A really disturbing advertisement.

  23. Ummm, yeah. The BBC is financed via the TV Licencing system in the UK (still going, after all these years). According to the TVL, everyone has a TV and watches broadcast TV – it is inconceivable to them that you could have television equipment and only watch DVDs (therefore controlling the amount of patriarchy propaganda you are subjected to). It is now £145.50pa (40p per day whether you watch it every day or not). Now frankly, if I am going to be subjected to state or patriarchy propaganda, I am certainly NOT going to pay for it! http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/

    But TVL act like a bunch of thugs/extortionists, and they start by sending threatening letters (of the ilk as if you were a major league tax avoider). Thereafter they send around “inspectors” to your home. There have been at least a dozen “inspectors” convicted of crimes, mainly fraud (against TVL) and theft (not the sort of people that pensioners or single women want to let into their homes). And at least one dude convicted of rape, during his working hours (but not on an actual official visit). So frankly, hell would freeze over before I let one of these thugs into my home. They aren’t really inspectors either, they are trained in high pressure sales techniques and bombard householders into buying a licence whether they need to or not (particularly the elderly, or those easily confused). It is also worth noting that the majority of convictions for not having a TV licence have been female, mainly single mothers on benefits. I have a policy of not opening the door to people I do not know, well, males anyway.

    Revenue from TVL is over £3.5 billion per year. It is a tax by another name, hence they behave like they are from the tax department, and assume everyone guilty until proven innocent.

  24. I had a whole other ick reaction to the Yoplait ad and I hope I can convey it without being too gross. The man jumping out and telling the women that THEIR choice was not going to be “satisfying” and that what HE had would be. The product is edible, white, creamy and has MORE protein than other yoghurt. He tells her again that she will find this more “satisfying” and then “compliments” her by telling her it’s good she smiled FOR HIM after eating the product FOR HIM.

    What very specific porny man-pleasing act does all of that bring to mind?

  25. That’s not gonna satisfy you. Heh. And, EW!

  26. Holy crap, YES. I remember being picked up, squeezed, kissed, tickled, etc, by male relatives and a few female friends of my mom… I remember having my face smashed into strangers’ chests, mmmfff! UGH, no! THAT is the thing I try to convey to people when I talk to them about male privilege- the privilege of NOT being told almost from birth that you have to let any random slimeball pick you up or kiss you or whatever, cuz don’t you want to be NICE? It’s ‘loooove’ they want to give you. ARGH, no! I ALWAYS wanted to say no, and when I was too young to say it, I’d cry and they’d keep doing it anyway… 😦 Women are socialized from birth to not be ‘allowed’ to establish boundaries.

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