Layers upon layers of sexism in this Wilkinson Sword Quattro commercial from the UK, entitled “Butterfly Effect.”
The scene: A man and woman canoodle in the back row of a moving bus. The man tries to run his hand up the woman’s leg but she pushes his hand away multiple times. Finally, he succeeds (despite her protests) and violently recoils when (we presume) he feels stubble. What follows is a butterfly effect of people stumbling and bumping into each other until something flies at the driver, causing him to crash into a billboard advertising the Wilkinson razors. Embarassed to have unleashed such terror onto a bus full of strangers, the woman hangs her head in shame.
The woman hangs her head in shame. Not the man, who ignored his girlfriend’s non-consent and reacted with exaggerated horror at her body hair, causing the ensuing “butterfly effect.” It is the woman’s responsibility, it seems, to keep herself smooth in case a man wants to feel her body (against her wishes).
It’s no secret hairlessness is a compulsory component of “femininity.” Adhering to feminine beauty standards is framed as a woman’s obligation to the rest of the world: from lovers to perfect strangers. This commercial uses fear as a motivator not only to buy the particular product, but to engage in the beauty ritual in the first place. It motivates me to let my leg hair grow out as douchebag-repellent.
Has anyone in the UK actually seen the commercial on television?