Several people have sent me this link:
That’s right: extra soft cotton panty conductor.
The question people are asking me is: “What’s more offensive: the bad conducting or the woman in her panties and high heels?” Penny put it: “+1 for female conductor, -100 for everything else?” Allegra put it, “woman-as-conductor in an ad yay, or objectification boo?” Other people just sent the link with no text, just exclamation points. Of excitement or shock, I couldn’t say.
When I watched it again a moment ago before I started writing this post, I sighed and covered my face with my hand. My husband inquired as to the source of my expression, so I showed him the video. He asked the same question everyone else has, then immediately answered himself, “the bad conducting is a lot worse, to my mind.”
I think I agree with him. I don’t mind that she’s wearing only underdrawers. Scantily clad women are used to sell a lot of things–mostly to men–so it doesn’t bother me to see a woman in her underbritches to sell panties to women. And it’s sort of nice that they chose to make her a conductor: someone powerful and professional and passionate. I feel comforted that it occurred to some advertising professional that a woman could be a conductor. And it’s nice to have a no-big-deal, take-it-for-granted depiction of a woman on a podium with a baton in her hand, because that’s the kind of thing that will help break down the implicit association of men with conducting.
I suppose they chose to make the woman a conductor because women and conducting have been in the news recently? Because it’s a safely non-sexy job with authority? Because of all the potential cliches and puns? “Face the music!” “The world’s a stage!” “Rockin’ the house!” “Music to your…” Sigh. Or maybe they had the goal of promoting a feminist perspective on the role on women in leadership positions. Maybe they were pissed off at the anti-feminist comments about women conductors in particular!
It could be better in terms of feminism and accurate portrayal of conducting. I wish she had a more typical body shape. I wish her hair were more practical. I wish she didn’t do that especially big flailing gesture like she’s doing the backstroke. I wish, when they cut to her clothed at the end, her performance attire was less masculine. But, for example, it’s better than the adult diaper commercial that likened a baton to a magic wand, and suggested concert musicians might have professional make up artists on staff. Its factual errors are in their depiction of conducting, not in the actual text.
So, I think it’s an improvement. And I think the take-home message is that, when extra-soft-cotton-panty-conductor is an improvement on the popular image of women conductors, the popular image of women conductors needs a great deal more help. So, here are some awesome women conductors you should see:
Ann Howard Jones:
and composer, song leader, musical supergenius Alice Parker:
These are all women who are artists and leaders–powerful, professional, and passionate. There are many more! They are real, not just fantasies. It’s not pretend, or some media-speculation rarity. There’s lots of us, and we’re awesome. This is what we really look like, how we really do our jobs. They can make as many goofy commercials as they like, wearing whatever they want to sell, but the real image of us is uniformly powerful, professional, and passionate. We’re happy to be a group to which underwear models aspire.