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Why Pantene's Gender Inequality Ad Is Total Bullsh*t

12/14/2013 10:49 am ET | Updated Feb 13, 2014
  • Ashley Hesseltine Writer, media personality, occasional standup comedian, and founder/editor of Witty + Pretty

I noticed people posting the Pantene commercial illustrating gender inequality and had a weird feeling about it before even clicking play.

I watched it... and I was pissed.

Yes, I see the point: To shed light on double standards in the workplace and elsewhere (apparently, men are "bosses" while women are "bossy" -- men are "persuasive" while women are "pushy"), but to DRILL this notion into women's heads over some depressing, melancholy music, then say, "Don't let labels hold you back"?

Fuck. That.

This is playing the victim if I've ever witnessed it, and not all women think this way, nor want to. But thanks for the note, Pantene.

I assure you plenty of successful, powerful women aren't speaking in boardrooms and worrying about being "bossy" or "pushy." Newsflash: Those kinds of negative thoughts only hinder your success.

As for the man working late at night who's "dedicated" but the woman who's "selfish." Oh please. If I thought I was selfish every time I chose to do work/stay in/pursue career goals over spending time with friends/a guy/whatever, I'd punch myself in the face. Guess what? You think those things about yourself, and everyone else will think them, too.

And don't even get me started on the man strutting down the street who's "smooth", but the women is a "show-off." Pantene was grasping at straws with that doozy. If a woman is walking down the street holding herself with poise and confidence, the ONLY jerks who would call her a show-off are jealous, catty females, and guess how many fucks you should give about them? Exactly.

I understand there are chauvinists out there who have the mindset this video depicts, but I choose to think it's not so commonplace anymore (I mean hello, Beyonce said we run the world!), and I surely don't put on "It's a Man's World" and cry myself to sleep at night worrying about people calling me bossy/bitchy/vain.

No, I'm not Sheryl Sandberg (who awarded this the ""Lean In prize of the day" on Facebook), so I have not encountered the type of gender inequality she probably has while rising up the ranks at a little website you may have heard of, but I'm also willing to bet she ignored and/or steamrolled the issues this ad is serving as a gentle reminder of.

I'm all for female empowerment, but I do NOT think this video accomplishes it (as for dramatizing sexism to sell shampoo, I can't even). It didn't leave me feeling empowered and inspired; it left me feeling like I needed a shower.

Yes, women still get paid less than men and it blows; so let's see an intelligent article/video exploring that with facts, educated opinions, and an inspirational undertone rather than a "woe is women" piece with a song that should be on an ASPCA commercial. How about: "Screw double standards! You can do anything men can do... and even do it better!" instead of "Don't forget ladies, while men are being persuasive, you may come off as pushy. And don't show too much confidence or people will think you're showy."

Pantene, your products may not be toxic, but this ad is. Why don't you stick to throwing labels on your shampoo bottles instead of us?

Ashley (aka Hess) is a writer, media personality, occasional standup comedian, and founder/editor of Witty + Pretty.