This photographer reversed the gender roles in these sexist ’50s ads
Much has (thankfully) changed for many women since the 1950s. Back then, a “perfect” wife was expected to handle all of the household duties while remaining at her husband’s beck and call. And the advertisements of the day made this abundantly clear.
Which is why Lebanese photographer Eli Rezkallah decided to reverse the gender roles in a variety of print ads of the era. He wanted to show the sexism “through a humorous light to spark a conversation through role play,” Rezkallah says on his site.
The series, which Rezkallah calls “In A Parallel Universe,” was inspired by a conversation he overheard during Thanksgiving last year. He explained,
"I overheard my uncles talk about how women are better off cooking, taking care of the kitchen, and fulfilling “their womanly duties. Although I know that not all men like my uncles think that way I was surprised to learn that some still do, so I went on to imagine a parallel universe, where roles are inverted and men are given a taste of their own sexist poison."
The absurdity of the vintage ads is what makes the contrast between the original female subjects and Rezkallah’s updated photos so stark. The first ad Rezkallah recreated shows a man spanking his wife who didn’t “store-test” for fresher coffee (scroll right to then see the original version).
Rezkallah then tackled an ad for ketchup. The original catchphrase read, “You mean a woman can open it?”
Finally, we see an ad for dish detergent sporting the line, “Get out of the kitchen sooner!” In the original version, a woman is surrounded by dirty dishes while her husband and child play in the upper corner.
You can see more of Rezkallah’s images from “In A Parallel Universe” on his website.
It’s comforting to know that we’ll (hopefully) never see ads like these ever again, and Rezhallah’s work serves as an important reminder that so many of the freedoms we take for granted today were hard-won by women of past generations. Let’s never forget to take the torch those women gave us and keep running towards full and intersectional gender equality.