Shocking Ad Posters Remind Us How Sexist and Racist the 1950s Were
By Laura Dang
November 16, 2015
Some outrageous posters from the golden era of advertising during the 1950s and 1960s would be considered pretty ridiculous today. It’s hard to believe that some of the campaigns put out by the Madison Avenue team of advertising executives were socially acceptable back in the day. A number of them portray women as submissive and weak while others are outright racist.
The beautiful and submissive housewife and stay-at-home mother. That is why she needs a vacuum cleaner.
The ad implies men’s sexual dominance and control over women, particularly in the context of a marriage.
Women are weaklings so this ad says. This housewife can open a bottle of ketchup? Didn’t women make tanks and bombs during wartime a few years prior?
Ads back then commonly and openly perpetuated gender stereotypes and patriarchy. Women were perceived to be inferior and needed to be taught to be “in their place.”
This advertisement clearly promotes female inferiority and submission to their male counterparts. Women are an oppressed group of people who make up half the population.
Women are objectified as sexual beings. They are also passive and open to manipulation by cigarette smoke apparently.
Bleach and soap companies had racist ads claiming their products were so effective they could whiten dark skin.
Valium is an effective method to pacify women and reduce their psychotic tendencies.
Cocaine was hailed for its painkilling benefits and promoted as an anesthetic. It was also widely available in pharmacies at one point in time.
In competition with artificial sweeteners, the sugar industry claimed sugar decreased fatigue and appetite while providing fueling energy to the body.
Radioactivity was believed to be a good thing in the 1950s. There were ads for products that included radioactive toothpaste.
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