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This here is a low traffic blog on topics close to my heart. As such, comments and engagement on old posts are always welcome and will be responded to. Except! for comments on old posts telling me to lighten up, not take things so seriously, or let things go, 'cause that shit's just plain ironic. Those comments will get a suggestion to visit Derailing for Dummies.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Catchy Songs, Misogyny and Racism, Oh MY!

It's almost as offensive with the sound off, so feel free to watch it that way!

[White girl]: Sometimes a girl can’t help feeling a little blue. [Petting a fluffy cat] When everything’s a mess, my favorite thing to do: is mow the lawn, mow the lawn.
[Chorus]: Mow it! Do it! Cut it! trim it!
[Black girl]: Some bushes are really big,
[Asian girl]: some gardens are mighty small,
[White girl] whatever shape your topiary, it’s easy to trim them all. Whenever I see a weed, I mow that rascal down [cut to footage of black woman] so all that’s left for me to see are [two lips] on the mound [two tulips]
[Asian girl]: So mow the lawn,
[White girl]: mow the lawn! Toolshed’s equipped, my flora’s clipped. Never feel untidy, just spruce your Aphrodite,
[Chorus]: and mow the lawn!
[White girl]: Feeling rough around the edges?
[Chorus]: And mow the lawn!
[White girl]: It feels great to trim the hedges! [Hairless cat being pet]
[Chorus]: and mow the lawn!

I just want you to know that watching that long enough to transcribe the whole thing was... a zen challenge, too bad I don't get any useful karma from it.
So let's examine this one, shall we?

First off let's start with a partial list of the creepy sexism?
  • There's a fluffy cat, oh haha, I get it. It's a "pussy"!!! Just like women! Good one advertiser Dave! Hey Dave, after they've all "mowed the lawn" perhaps we could have a hairless cat. Oh we can?! Saawweeettt. (Doesn't anyone think this is a bad analogy? When I pet a cat, I like it to have fur, am I the only one?)
  • Anyone else find it creepy that they are singing into the clipping shears as though they are mics, but it just looks like they are about to cut their own heads off?
  • I'm not sure when heart-shaped pubic hair became a standard. Anyone want to clue me in?
  • Tulips! haHA. Two Lips. Two Tulips. The Wit, it burns.
Ok next for the creepy racism?
  • I don't think I need to mention that the "gardens are mighty small" oh so conveniently references the fact that asians are considered "petite" and that includes assumptions about their cunts*, or that the comment about "really big bushes" could be seen to be referencing the fact that black people are assumed to be bigger, also including their cunts, do I?
  • Similarly, does anyone need a primer course in why having the sole black woman in the video using a POWER TOOL to cut her "bush" perhaps push buttons surrounding how white people have "nice, easy" hair and black people don't? Even though, come to think of it, I don't know many people whose pubic hair is long and flowing and straight... just sayin'
  • Perhaps an astute watcher might also notice that the black woman is the only woman in the video who shows anything but unabashed cheerfulness. This surely has nothing to do with the fact that black people are portrayed as "angry" Surely not!
  • And DEFINITELY they forgot to put the asian girl in with any power tools, not because of weird assumptions about the "daintiness" of asians and assumed ideas about power tools, but because, maybe she just didn't want to stick around for the whole day of shooting! *shrug* who knows???
Just a reminder, that's Schick with an S-C-H-I-C-K for all your gardening needs.

*I use the word cunt because of the book: Cunt by the talented Inga Muscio


  1. Did anyone else notice that the cat goes from super hairy to very neatly trimmed in the end?

    Also, this is apparently a real advertisement; I went to www.mowthelawn.co.uk, and it was actually a site selling razors...

    Doesn't that mean this was actually shown on tv at some point? That's a little disturbing to me...

  2. 1. The racist implications in that video were OUTRAGEOUS.

    2. I have no problem with people modifying their bodies in various ways, including hair removal. What I do have a problem with is the intense, unrelenting societal pressure on people to modify their bodies to conform to various beauty standards. Sorry fellas, but these pressures are exerted disproportionately on women. If women don't conform to said beauty standards, they're labeled ugly, disgusting, unfeminine, and unattractive. They are frequently compared to animals (or, in this example, unruly plants.)

    Now, if ladies want to modify their bodies for themselves, that's peachy keen with me. (Men, too, of course.) Power to you, ladies! Do it because it feels good, so that it doesn't chafe you, to improve your sexual experiences, whatever!

    But when women start doing it out of internalized shame - e.g. in order to "feel beautiful" - that's when, for me, it starts to become problematic. Yes, I want people to feel beautiful and sexy and attractive, but why do they need to spend so much time and money and effort and pain to get there? (Yes, pain. Have you ever been waxed?)

    Of course, people shouldn't have to feel ugly or uncomfortable with their appearance just to make a point; I'm not advocating that. The problem is with society at large, and the shame and self-loathing it trains into all of us. The "Mow the Lawn" ad is an example of that shaming: it shows half a dozen beautiful models in skimpy outfits prancing around singing thinly-veiled euphemisms about their pubic regions. What's the take-home message here? If only all of us "mowed our lawns," we too could be beautiful and happy, the way all of these women are! In fact, they're such cool ladies that they can laugh and joke about shaving their pubes, because hey, everyone does it!

    I remember distinctly when, as a teenager, I realized that shaving my legs (and, later, my armpits) was optional. Before that, I just assumed it was something that all women did, period. I've talked to other women who had similar experiences. Why did we feel this way? Because it was modeled to us by all of the adults around us. To me, that says that body hair removal, particularly for women, is not seen as a personal choice; it's a societal obligation. If making the choice not to conform causes anxiety and shame, it's not really much of a choice, is it?

    In that respect, I don't think it's accurate to compare body hair removal to men shaving their beards or to people styling their hair. Those are areas in which we have a high level of choice. Men who grow out their beards may not be the norm, but it's not considered disgusting. On the other hand, I've heard numerous people say that women with armpit hair are disgusting.

    I wish I could laugh at the Mow the Lawn commercial. I can certainly see how it's funny, and when I was a teenager I probably would have found it hilarious. But now all I can see is coercion and racism.

  3. Another thing I find funny about this is what it says about British vs. American culture. Have you seen the advertisements for the bikini trimmer in the US? You have to think about it for a few minutes after the commercial to understand what they're really selling. "A bikini trimmer? What does that even.. OH!" I'd like to find a happy medium between:
    America-making me feel ashamed for having hair in my nethers but more ashamed because I have to buy a product to trim said hair.
    England-making me feel like it's culturally acceptable to buy a hair trimmer for my lady region so now all of a sudden it's totally unacceptable for me to have an unkempt box.


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