Women Are Still Stuck In The Kitchen


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.


Misogyny disguised as Female Empowerment – A Gleeful Analysis by Jessica S.


Every episode of Glee has a theme; and in one of their most recent episodes, Sadie Hawkins, the theme is female empowerment. The episode starts off with Tina, a glee club member, complaining to the “Too Young to be Bitter Club”, a group of girls who complain about being treated unequally, but the name in itself is degrading. She questions “Why are the guys so empowered to ask us to a dance, when we just have to sit around and wait, wouldn’t it be great if we got to choose?” She then proceeds to organize a Sadie Hawkins dance, where the girls can ask the guys. The main hegemony of the episode is introduced, where it is abnormal for a girl to ask a guy to the dance and that they are not allowed to do it any other time otherwise it is abnormal.

The girls are portrayed as models, the viewers are supposed to agree with them. We are supposed to agree with Tina, it is desirable to want to feel empowered, but undesirable to go against societies rules to ask out boys.

In a lot of ways Glee can be looked through an inflected oppositional reading just because the show itself tries to break away from the status quo. However, in Sadie Hawkins, the messages can be seen as preferred occluded reading because they are telling you what is normal and desirable under the blanket that the show is promoting feminist empowerment.

There is a scene where a couple of the glee club guys are walking down the school hallway, the girls are gawking at them, and they feel awkward. Artie and Ryder are having a conversation and Brittany interrupts.

Artie: “I feel totally powerless”                                                                                           Ryder: “This must be what the girls feel like all the time…”                                           Brittany (annoyed): “It is”

These few lines exemplify radical feminism. The ideology being that, women have less power than men. The males feel the difference between having power as a male, whereas feeling powerless when put in a situation a female is usually in. What is worse is that the female reinforces that feeling is accurate. It amplifies the patriarchal system and the masculine hegemony.

Even when asking out the guys, Kitty, one of the cheerleaders in the glee club encounters backlash because she is seen as obnoxious. To refute this she states “I’m a mean, hot, bitch, who likes to get what she wants”, deducing that in order to get what you want if you are female, you are labeled a “bitch”, and she accepts it, as it is what she calls herself.

The girls, in this episode, never actually display any “female empowering” qualities, other than asking out their dates, but instead the men just keep saying that they are “empowered”. The even sing a female empowered song titled “No Scrubs” by TLC. But, by having the men tell them this, they still have all the power, and only if they tell the women they are powerful it gratifies it. Essentially, after the Sadie Hawkins dance is over everything will return to “normal”. At the end of the episode, it seems the females have become empowered and feel good about themselves. The “Too Young to be Bitter Club” gets cancelled, and a bunch of the girls are seen celebrating their newfound empowerment.

When a show such as Glee heavily promotes and endorses acceptance and being different, misogyny tends to get overlooked. The main characters are part of a glee club, and are considered outcasts; they are multiracial, transgendered, gay, bisexual, lesbian, handicapped, and have mental illnesses. Their targeted audience is assumed to be more cultured and accepting, which in some ways makes it easier to accept what is normal on Glee, because the viewers expect them to go against the social norms of society and promote equality. Being a show that is both trying to break away from the social norms, and at the same time ratifying misogyny sends mixed messages. It can make the viewers agree with certain anti-feminist ideologies without thinking about the actual message the show is trying to express.