This commercial for Volkswagen’s newest vehicle model may not seem like an item that can be analyzed from a feminist perspective from Sellnow’s text, at least not typically, but when analyzed through each respective feminist lens, I think what it evident is that even in a minute long commercial, underlying hegemonic and patriarchal ideals still form the backbone to this ad.
From a Liberal Feminist Perspective, which Sellnow defines as the brand which aims to include women in traditional male-dominated areas (92). To some, perhaps, this means in other places than the home, but in this ad, it perpetuates hegemonic familial roles and even gender roles, by depicting the woman in the room that it often crassly joked about: the kitchen. This ad means to depict a typical family, the man being the breadwinner, as indicated from him coming home from work, carrying a briefcase –and the woman being in the kitchen, making a sandwich for her child, staying at home while her husband works to earn the money which in turn then buys this new, practical Volkswagen. Through a Liberal Feminist Lens, I would argue they would advocate for the woman in this ad, and in many ads alike, to be in the breadwinner role which defies typical patriarchal systems. Perhaps where we see a woman outside the home and driving the family car, coming from work where she earned money to pay for half the vehicle rather than this atypical female caretaker role cliché.
The Radical Feminist Perspective would recognize how this ad perpetuates ideological views on family roles (93-4). This ad is designed to sell ideals to a target audience, for this one it is a family audience. It represents what every family should aspire to be like: the man runs the house, he works, he provides for his family and the woman stays at home, cleans (for the house is nice, clean, spacious), and cooks for her children and husband (as she passes a sandwich to her child). Because these are presented as ideals they are therefore continuing an already existing system, this is how Volkswagen sells cars; they would not be able to sell nor would this ad even translate to begin with if there were not existing systems in place for this ad to play off of. It’s very existence proves they are in place on ideological levels (because it addresses economical/political levels ideals because most things can be summed up on this level, but I digress). The woman is the caretaker and the man is the breadwinner, that is how they are depicted and because it is an ideal, it is an ideal that is being perpetuated as what most people should be like in their familial roles.
The Marxist Feminist Perspective is especially important with this text because it is a text that is designed with a capitalistic motive (96). The man, being the breadwinner for the family, means he has the control to decide to which car he buys for his family. It is the man who is driving it, who leaves the house, while the woman remains inside unaffiliated with the car whatsoever in the ad. A Marxist Feminist would argue that because of this, the man being the sole earner of the house, he has power over his wife and family because he decides what car he can buy. The woman has no say on the vehicle because she has no money invested in the family.
These are three feminist perspectives discussed in Sellnow’s texts that I think are relevant and apply to this text and that are the most apparent. One thing is clear when using these analyses is that there is evident perpetuation of an ideal rather that the real situations a lot of families experience but also of a misogynistic ideal of how a family should be.