Feminists suck all the humor out of sexual harassment

An ad expert gets his panties in a bunch over Method's decision to pull a commercial that offended female consumers

Published December 9, 2009 4:10PM (EST)

Steve Hall over at AdRants believes that "Cause groups and feminist blogging should be outlawed." Why? Well, before the authorities seize my laptop, I'll try to explain. A lot of people from those two categories were offended by a recent commercial for Method's environmentally friendly cleaning products, and the negative response prompted Method to pull the ad. The video is below, but here's what you need to know: It begins with a woman watching a bunch of happy, singing bubbles making her tub sparkly clean, then shifts to her getting into the shower and discovering those bubbles are still there, and they're not so nice anymore. In fact, they're the toxic residue of her environmentally unfriendly cleaning products, and they will not only slowly poison her but provide sexually threatening commentary while they're at it! "We give you the impression of clean, and then we get to watch you clean," one explains, at which point they all start leering at the now extremely uncomfortable naked woman and moaning "Oh, baby, yeah" as she washes herself, with the creepitude culminating in a chant of, "Loofah! Loofah! Loofah!"

After the ad began airing, humorless "cause groups" and feminist bloggers raised a lot of questions about it. Questions like, "Who the hell thinks it's funny to watch a naked woman being sexually harassed, even by animated bubbles?" And "Were they on crack?" And "They do realize their market is women, right?" And "Seriously? Seriously?" So eventually, decision-makers at Method went, "Huh. Given that the market for this product is primarily female, and this commercial seems to alienate a lot of women -- not to mention attach our brand name to threatening bubbles, even though they're supposed to be from the other brand -- perhaps the wisest business decision would be to stop airing it."

But you know who thinks it's funny to watch a woman being sexually harassed by animated bubbles? Steve Hall, that's who! "Words fail at this point," he says in a post optimistically titled "The Last Word on Method's Horny Shiny Suds," but that doesn't stop him from using them. In addition to his recommendation that feminist blogging be criminalized, he also thinks that the following would be appropriate punishment for angry women who toss around inflammatory phrases like "rape culture" just to make sure normal people never get to have any fun:

Everyone with a stick up their ass over this should promptly shove it all the way through until it pops out the top of their head. Hopefully they'll die and allow the rest of us to "use the loofa" [sic] without feeling like we're being gang raped in the shower. (Where the hell do people come up with this crap?)


Just for fun, Dow should hire an army of men in Scrubbing Bubbles costumes, send them to BlogHer (and the rest of the female conference circuit) and have them ejaculate foamy white stuff all over attendees. That ought to get some panties in a bunch.

So, to sum up: Because women told Method that the ad was offensive to its target demographic, and Method responded by taking Steve Hall's favorite commercial away, all the women who complained should be prohibited from writing on the internet, die violently, or maybe just be the targets of a little public faux-bukkake. Now that is how you defend freedom of speech while reminding all right-thinking people that this feminazi nonsense about "sexism" and "misogyny" and "trivializing violence against women" (who the hell comes up with this crap?) is just cuh-razy! Well done, sir!

Hall also thinks "Brands should grow a pair and proudly lift their middle finger when confronted by a gaggle of idiots who have nothing better to do than to suck the last drop of humor out of life." That suggestion might have some validity --  from a business standpoint, if not an ethical one -- if the commercial were serving its purpose, and the outraged critics were never going to buy the product in the first place. But this really can't be emphasized enough: Liberal, educated female consumers -- a group that often overlaps with feminist bloggers -- are the fucking market for environmentally friendly cleaning products. Men who think sexually threatening bubbles are a laff riot may enjoy the ad, but the only important question for Method is whether they will then think, "I shall reward these creative geniuses by buying their soap." Logical answer: Probably not! And almost certainly not in numbers large enough to justify alienating women. So what Hall is saying -- in his capacity as an advertising expert -- is, "Brands should lift their middle finger at their actual consumers, rather than acknowledge a failed concept and move on, because I think the ad is funny." I guess we can agree on one thing, then: Words fail.


By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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