A screenshot from the Castro commercial 'Where is the dress from?'.
(photo credit: screenshot)
It doesn’t matter if the commercials are for clothing, food, kitchen appliances or even water. Advertisements in Israel repeatedly and persistently feature sexist themes and harmful gender stereotypes.
Ahead of International Women’s Day, the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) has released its annual ranking of the most sexist commercials in Israel last year.
In the top spot? A controversial Castro ad titled "Where is the dress from?"
The commercial, starring Castro presenter and TV host Rotem Sela, showed Sela kidnapping, robbing, murdering and burying the body of a young woman who refused to tell her where she bought her dress. The ad garnered so many complaints that it was barred from airing on Israeli television by Israel’s TV authority.
“This ad was ranked first place by WIZO because of its use of violent motifs to justify chasing after a sexy item of clothing,” the organization said in a statement. “The commercial reinforces and promotes gender stereotypes that women are ready to kill each other over a dress, and that their only interests are their external appearances.”
In second place, WIZO ranked a pair of anti-gambling PSAs from Mifal Hapayis, Israel’s national lottery. One of the commercials featured a woman so obsessed with shopping that she ignored her boyfriend’s proposal and shrugged over him dumping her, while the second featured a man so addicted to his phone that he didn’t pay attention during couple’s therapy or the birth of his child. WIZO said it was even worse to see such stereotypes be reinforced in an ad from a public body.
WIZO rounded out its top five worst offenders of the year with an ad for faucets that reimagined the faucet options as naked men being admired by a woman; a commercial from the chain Hatzi Hinam (Half Free) that features two women fighting over feeding a man on Passover; and an ad for a diet system, which claims that every woman’s greatest fantasy is to lose weight.
In addition to the 2018 rankings, WIZO included a top three worst offenders list for the past decade. Topping the list is a 2009 commercial for the Mei Eden in-home water dispenser. The ad features a half-naked Bar Refaeli lying across the kitchen counter, attempting to seduce the man in the house into drinking water.
That ad, WIZO said, “displays a submissive feminine image, a servant, confined to the kitchen... minimizing and determining the place of the woman as required to satisfy the will of the man.”
Despite the offending campaigns, WIZO CEO Gila Oshrat is still hopeful that the trend is heading in a positive direction.
“Over the past decade, there have been huge changes in the presentation of women in commercials,” said Oshrat. “Today we see less pornographic representation or reinforced stereotypes in advertisements.” However, Oshrat said, the problem still remains, and “there is no doubt that this infiltrates us as a society and distorts our social perceptions, especially among young people... we hope that the advertising market will adopt a higher level of self-regulation to prevent sexist advertising, which no longer has any place in our lives.”
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