A French television station has been forced to withdraw an advert designed to promote its female friendly credentials – because the ad was deemed to be ‘sexist’ by feminists on Twitter. The ad campaign, which was scheduled to run for three weeks, will now never be aired.
Publicly-owned France 3 prides itself on its embrace of gender equality and track record for employing females, so commissioned an advert to boast of its success. The resulting 40-second film shows a series of household chores being left abandoned – a shirt catching fire as an abandoned iron sits on it, an oven smoking thanks to the neglected food inside, a child’s bedroom in disarray.
Finally, a well known French 70s pop song poses the question: “where have all the women gone?” As the camera pans back from a neatly arranged wardrobe full of shoes, a message on screen reads: “they are on France 3. The majority of our presenters are female.”
La majorité de nos présentateurs sont des présentatrices ! https://t.co/iXTEwFNWlh
— France 3 (@France3tv) October 2, 2015
The station tweeted the advert, commenting: “More different, more modern, more feminine! France 3 affirms its values with this new campaign showcasing our presenting!”
If it thought the advert would win it plaudits from the feminist community, it was sadly mistaken. Instead it was panned on social media.
Prenons La Une, a collective of female journalists, told 20 Minutes the advert “feeds cliches rather than deconstructing them. You get the impression that the people who made this video start from the principle that a woman is always behind her ironing board, that she has a massive shoe collection.”
Feminist blog Balle de Sexisme tweeted that France 3 “wants to promote feminisation of its workplace, and serves us a heap of clichés,” together with the hashtag ‘#sexisme’.
— Balle de sexisme (@balledesexisme) October 5, 2015
Even Pascale Boistard, France’s minister for women waded in, tweeting that the campaign “does not seem to be a good way to highlight professional equality” among TV presenters.
— Pascale Boistard (@Pascaleboistard) October 5, 2015
Delphine Ernotte, the new head of France 3 immediately ordered the campaign to be pulled, while her entourage quickly moved to distance her from it, telling media that she had not seen the advert before it was released and that it “was not close to her sensibilities.”Boistard tweeted her approval shortly afterwards. None of the critics have suggested how the channel could have alluded to the lack of a female presence without resorting to easily accessible and recognisable clichés or stereotypes.