Not all mothers do your laundry

Greyhound’s advertisement campaign gone, but not forgotten

Peter Saczkowski, ArtSci '07
Peter Saczkowski, ArtSci '07

I am not sure how many students have noticed this, but there has been an increasing amount of sexist advertising being displayed in the men’s washrooms in the JDUC targeted against women. The first advertisements went up last year and I was disturbed by them at this point, but I figured that someone might notice and do something about it. Sadly, this did not happen and the advertisements are still there.

I am referring to the Greyhound Bus Lines advertisements and I’m sure most men at Queen’s have seen them because they are placed on the wall directly above the urinals. They profess that buying a bus ticket will allow you to bring your laundry home to your mother, implying arbitrarily that only mothers do laundry, have time to do their son’s laundry whenever the son asks and don’t have anything better to do than sit at home waiting for their son to call up mother and ask her to do his chores. This also implies that sons have the only claim on their mother’s care. The others depict moms as waiting in the kitchen for their hungry sons to return from school, always ready to make them spaghetti.

I find this type of imagery revolting at best, and patriarchal at worst. On what grounds do mothers do more laundry, or cook more, than anyone else? Don’t mothers have other things to do? Why is the father left out of the equation? All of these questions can be answered simply: sexism is the single most pervasive form of institutionalized and accepted arbitrary discrimination that continues to exist despite feminist’s best efforts. In answer to the questions, women cook and clean more because their “place” is in the home; mothers don’t have anything else to do because they don’t have careers and the father is too busy playing golf or attending a business meeting.

I am assuming that these advertisements are not in the women’s washrooms, but then again, I am sure someone who oversees these advertisements’ implementation is a woman.

Why hasn’t anyone said anything? Why is this being kept quiet? Why are we not asking “Why is Queen’s so sexist?” We are supposed to be a reputable institution—why aren’t we acting like it? The easy answer is that Queen’s will do almost anything for money, and this includes, but is certainly not limited to, the breaching of basic moral standards integral to the self-respect of women.

However, not only does this show the hidden rot of exploitation within Queen’s, but that it is pervasive—and is assumed by advertising companies that it will be pervasive within the majority of the male population at Queen’s.

This is obvious because advertising is meant to sell things and if the advertisement is offensive it certainly will not. However, the majority of the male population has certainly not found it to be, since the advertising has been there last year and hasn’t received any criticism of which I’m aware.

I am sure Greyhound and Queen’s was banking on this fact. It is the subtle complacency and ignorance of the student body at large that is so infuriating and it is the assumption that this type of sexist attitude is the accepted norm that is quite rightly terrifying.

Though Queen’s continuously spouts concern for “diversity” it’s obvious that their actions belie this claim.

In 1989 at a Board of Trustees meeting members vowed to endorse “…all efforts to mount education campaigns aimed at combating (sic) the attitudes of sexism which prevail at Queen's.” Though they did not vow to not support sexist campaigns, such as the one by Greyhound, aren’t Queen’s actions, in the face of this claim, monumentally hypocritical? Because they haven’t removed the ads, the University’s and its administrators are sexist, or avaricious and sexist; the majority of the male population must be sexist for this to have gone under the radar for so long, but everyone continues to lie about it. Queen’s has been professing to combat sexism for at least 17 years, so it’s high time they actually look in to what that entails.

I hope in response to this, that all of the advertisements are crossed out and labelled sexist in bold, black lettering. However, maybe my optimism is not well founded. It certainly hasn’t been thus far.

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