Dirty Jobs

My husband and I were watching television recently when a commercial for the Swiffer Wet Jet floor cleaner came on. I watched nonplussed as the gleeful woman traded in her dirty, ineffective mop for a super clean, Swiffer with pre-moistened floor cleaning pads.

“Doesn’t that make you angry?” my husband asked. “What?” I asked, intently watching to see how the floor looked before and after. “That,” he said pointing to the tv contemptuously. “You mean all the disposable, wasteful stuff they try to sell us?” I asked “No,” he said,” the fact that it’s always a woman doing the work in cleaning commercials.”

It had never occurred to me but my radar primed, I started noticing all the commercials for cleaning stuff. Sure enough, one after another were filled with impeccably dressed, serene and satisfied looking women happily scrubbing toilets and mopping floors.

There were no men in site. Were the men conspicuously missing in these commercials to trick us into thinking that if we clean really good with their product, absent the men, our houses will stay clean. Oh wait, let me not forget the one man, the only man who does make an appearance in the world of cleaning product commercials, Mr.Clean. Mr. Clean, standing there with his arms crossed like some maniacal taskmaster or hypercritical foreman, watching you clean.

Maybe I’m so conditioned to accept that ensuring the house is clean is my sphere, that I don’t balk that every product is directed at me. I brought this up at lunch with a few other women. “Why do you think they don’t show men cleaning in these commercials?” I asked them. “Because men don’t clean and if a woman saw a man cleaning in the commercial, she would immediately see the hypocrisy and be even more pissed that they were getting credit for doing something they don’t do.”

But my husband does the floors a lot I thought. “Because women buy these products,” another friend offered. It’s true, women account for the majority of cleaning product purchases, but why do I want to see a well dressed, serene woman Swiffering her floors? Even on the Swiffer website, they show a picture of a women cleaning in white pants. White pants? Really? I can tell you, I have never cleaned in white pants, maybe white underpants because it’s a warm day or I’m waiting on the laundry. That is just not what happens in my house on cleaning days. Contrary to the halcyon depiction in tvland, on my commercial, you’d see a harried, unshowered woman in her nightgown getting poopy cat prints and 3 days worth of the children’s breakfast spillage off the floors before her mother-in-law comes over and reports her to child services. And if women are indeed the marketing target, why don’t they appeal to women’s desires? How about a little wish fulfillment here.

I can see it now, the commercial starts and on the screen we see the husband, furiously cleaning the floor, mopping the sweat off his brow as he wipes the prints from the refrigerator. He scuttles about putting toys away and hanging up his wife’s coat and dispensing with a weeks worth of mail. He white gloves the mantel making sure everything is just so. This tv husband knows what you go through and unlike your real husband, he feels the work is anybody’s to do. Why shouldn’t he do it, it needs to get done. Or find some hunky man’s man that appeals to both men and women to endorse a few cleaning products. Get Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs to brandish a Swifter and I’d bet men and women alike would be filling their carts up with Swifters galore.

Or target the men. This time the man has a toolbelt full of cleaners and every gadget and gizmo to make the house his bitch. We hear keys in the door, the door slowly opens and from floor view we see a woman’s legs in a sexy pair of pumps and she rests her briefcase on the sparkling floors. Camera pans up and the hot woman eyes the room with a look of awe and appreciation. Her husband sits on the couch waiting for her. She seductively walks over to him, takes off her glasses, shakes out her hair and sits on his lap, planting kisses all over his face. “Did you make the bed,” she asks, her voice charged with innuendo. Fade. Now don’t you think that would make men want to help around the house a little more? It sure works in my house.

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Anonymous said... May 28, 2008 at 12:17 PM  

Party favors for house cleaning is an absolutely brilliant idea. I wonder if I can dust using my yard blower?

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