Thursday, March 21, 2013

Men Come from Apes; Women Come from Cows

Image from BuzzFeed:  The 13 Worst Plastic Surgery Ads in the World

This advertisement for a plastic surgery clinic in Bucharest plays on the classic image of man evolving from ape.  That image has long been criticized for normalizing "man" as the epitome of evolution (What about women?  Or people of color for that matter?).  This image feeds into the sexist undertones of the evolutionary story by showing us where women come from:  ugly cows.

Image from Skeptical Raptor

The cow is laden with symbolism--they are seen as unintelligent commodities in need of husbandry (similar to how women are perceived).  Of course, women are often insulted in being labeled a cow--something ugly and undesirable to men.  Comparison to the ape, on the other hand, tends to be more flattering, as apes are often seen as clever, adaptive, and independent.  They're also seen as the most human of the "animal kingdom."  When being "human" generally defaults to being "male," these images clarify that men are privileged and women must manipulate their sexual desirability to achieve social worth.