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Milk: It Does The Patriarchy Good?

Ads linking milk to alleviated PMS have feminists feeling irritable.

by
Jenn Taylor

Bio

July 23, 2011 - 12:00 am
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This daft feminist strategy would be sad in a pathetic sort of way if it wasn’t so deliciously entertaining. What better way to expose portrayals of women as irrational whiners and hysterical bitches than by whining irrationally and bitching hysterically? Nicely done, and empowering as ever. Maybe next they can attain true legitimacy by railing against Summer’s Eve for degrading the trans* community with ads that dare to suggest only women have vaginas. Oops, those darn feminists are way ahead of me.

But I’m not complaining. I’m all for feminists busying themselves with the activist equivalent of pushing plastic gingerbread men around a Candyland board — it leaves them less time to scrawl their appalling, morally bankrupt defenses of gender-based abortion, female genital mutilation, Peace Corps rape cover-ups, and other genuine assaults on women and girls.

Prior to discontinuing the “Everything I Do is Wrong” campaign, Steve James, executive director of the Milk Board, blew off feminist criticism in an interview with the New York Times:

“If you do a microsite about how cute puppies are,” Mr. James says, “you’ll get feedback that says, ‘You’re exploiting puppies.’ ”

The reliable controversy generated by that type of feedback is exactly what the Milk Board sought to harness, and it worked. Hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and blogs are discussing the ads, and thousands of women are newly aware that chugging milk might alleviate PMS. And oddly enough, the Milk Board managed it with equal opportunity caricatures of men and women — no dairy offerings to the patriarchal gods necessary.

There’s plenty of sexism in advertising, but this ain’t it. Poking fun at gender stereotypes doesn’t thicken the glass ceiling or widen the mythically expansive wage gap any more than the average knock-knock joke. But try telling that to the anti-milk protesters whose every criticism validates another longstanding stereotype: the humorless feminist.

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Follow Jenn Taylor on Twitter at @JennQPublic and catch That's What She Said Thursday nights at 9 p.m. EST on FTR Radio.
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