The Myth of the Heartless Business Woman
I was watching tv last night and this commercial for Volvo comes on. It opens with this very pretty yet harsh looking woman with pristine makeup and a very tightly slicked back bun. She’s wearing a high-end, finely tailored business suit and driving a sleek car that I assume they want you to think is the car being marketed in this commercial. She flips down her visor mirror to check her makeup as another car pulls up next to her. In it is an average-looking woman with loose, curly hair and minimal makeup. They look at each other through their windows, and the average-looking woman also flips down her mirror. Then a man’s voice says, “Volvo’s aren’t for everyone… and we kind of like it that way.” The average-looking woman then crosses her eyes and makes a funny face in her mirror and as the camera zooms out we see that she’s entertaining her two kids in the back seat. The voice over then says some catch phrase about making cars for “real people.” Then the car information comes up and the Volvo logo appears and it just annoyed the hell out of me because the Volvo logo is the male symbol (circle with an arrow sticking up and to the right) and I just couldn’t help thinking, “How dare they, with their male symbol and male voice over, make commentary on who is or isn’t a real person, and what kind of woman is or isn’t allowed to drive their cars?!” There’s this image in the media that if a woman wants to have a successful career, she must be cut-throat, stern, and heartless. She must sacrifice her emotions, her personality, and the possibility of a family. On top of all of those expectations, she is then portrayed as a bitch. Then along comes Volvo and basically says, “If you have fallen for this myth perpetuated by the media that you have to put your career in front of your love life, then you aren’t good enough. If the media has successfully convinced you that women can’t have it all, then you aren’t good enough. If you have fallen victim to the absurdly high expectations set for working women, you are not good enough to drive our car. Now here, let us flash our logo to remind you that we are men, and we are the ones making these decisions.” It drives me absolutely insane to see women who choose tho have a family and women who choose to have a career being blatantly pinned against each other, as though one is a more valid choice than the other, or as those it’s a choice that even has to be made in the first place. When it comes down to it, the media says that if women accept our myth that they can’t have it all, then we will judge them for picking one lifestyle over the other; there is no winning.