We’ve found some of the most magnificent women out there. Women whose superhuman strengths make them inspirational role models, and whose quick speed and heightened tastes make entertaining look easy.
That’s the pitch for Samsung’s Women of Steel contest, and its been cooking up a lot of controversy. The winner, this amazing, fantastical creature, is being rewarded with…a kitchen.
If Samsung just wanted to reward the best hostess out there with a new kitchen in an effort to promote their home appliances, then fine, so be it. But to equate hostessing prowess with superhuman strength and inspirational capabilities, to hold these skills up as a pinnacle of womanhood, is regressive and insulting.
For Samsung and those promoting the contest, being the best woman you can be is still tied to the private sphere (her home and kitchen, to be exact), and even though she "isn’t superman’s wife", it is still assumed that she has a vested interest in being a homemaker. And even though there is nothing wrong with a woman who choses to reign over her house and home, Samsung’s PR team needs to acknowledge that there are other ways to be an influential women beyond antiquated gender roles. They are trying to imagine the most awesome women possible, one who is “inspirational,” “the ultimate” and “the most magnificent”...but she still can’t be these things in man’s world. Instead, she must have an interest in entertaining and her kitchen.
Of course this is a marketing gimmick, but it has a real negative impact on those who consume this type of narrow-minded media. As the saying goes, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” Samsung needs to stop contributing to a system where sexist advertising is so rampant that it is normalized. When girls are surrounded by positive and aspirational images of women, in advertising and beyond, they can envision themselves the same way. When girls are surrounded by messages telling them that their biggest dreams shouldn't leave the front door, it's harder for them to become an actual woman of steel.