Swiffer Sweeper Idealizes Hegemonic Culture

Morty are you listening?

“Did you notice how clean it looks? Morty, are you listening?”  We have all experienced a moment when we are in a conversation and the other person stops listening.  This phenomenon in society is so common that when it occurs in advertisements we can recall a similar experience.  This is the power of media.  Social media provides powerful examples that reinforce hegemony in society. Hegemony is dominance by a class or gender over another.  This power can be coerced upon society as something that is acceptable so much so that it is seen as the way the world functions.  However, this can result in long term damage for society’s members who are not a member of the elite and powerful.  Typically, American culture power is centralized around patriarchy.  This is evident in society since the gender wage gap makes women’s earnings 0.77 cents to a man’s dollarThis perpetuates issues in society in families where the woman brings home the money for her family since a 25-year-old woman working full time earns $5,000 less than her male counterparts.  This is due in part by the media’s lack of coverage about unconventional families as well as a lack of knowledge about the hegemonic society of America.  Furthermore, women are depicted as caretakers and in charge of the home environment.  The Swiffer Sweeper commercial is a prime example.  In the beginning, the man vocalizes his concern about the danger his wife faces when dusting their home.  Upon receiving a Swiffer, the husband becomes disinterested to the point of lounging on the couch and sleeping.  This typical household dynamic is apparent in most of society because the man comes home from a long day at work and is allowed to rest.  Oppositely, women who are in the workforce are still expected to maintain a job and a good home for their husbands.  Thus, this hegemonic ideology where women are treated as the maids of the house benefits men because they are allowed to relax while the women prepare dinner and do the chores.  Some may argue that there is nothing wrong with this picture; but, this picture has become a staple ideology since the 1950’s with shows like I Love Lucy where we as a society have become blind to it.  Thus, the commercial “Morty are you listening?” is an everyday occurrence in television advertising that undermines the cultural values that support the hegemonic, patriarchal state by blinding the audience with humor and something we perceive to be normal.  Still, society can change the way media impacts the hierarchy of society.  Antonio Gramsci, a Marxist philosopher who developed the idea of hegemony, argued that investigation into the history of what seems to be a natural way of life can result in societal liberation.  We, as a society, have to understand the meaning behind the cultural norms and be able to look beyond that to overcome the hegemonic culture that plagues subordinate social groups in the United States.



11 thoughts on “Swiffer Sweeper Idealizes Hegemonic Culture

  1. First off, I like how you started off your post with a quotation. This surely caught my attention and made me want to read on. Furthermore, I agree that women are portrayed in the media as caretakers of the house hold and the man should only work and come home and do nothing after that. I think this is a shame because in my house hold, my dad and mom do about the same amount of work around the house. However, the fact that you posted women make roughly 5000 dollars less than men is true because my dad makes significantly more than my mom and they both have full time jobs. Good post!

  2. Thank you for shedding light on this topic. I think your example about how your dad makes more money than your mom adds to the dysfunction of our society on issues related to gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and religion.

  3. Clearly Morty is not listening or has selective hearing when it comes to cleaning. If he was listening, he’d know how easy it is to clean with Swiffer. Or he’s caught up in society’s portrayal of a woman’s job is to cook, clean and have babies so cleaning is not a man’s job. Why is Morty this way? I agree that he learned it through the media portraying women staying at home, while the man has a career outside the home. This perception of women was attempted to be changed in the 40’s with Rosie the Riveter with the “We Can Do It.” However, many women in society today are still viewed as in superior; especially in other countries. My motto is, “if given the chance, I can do it.”

  4. Although I do not specify as per why Morty was not listening, bad hearing, hearing aids, wasn’t listening or sleepiness, that detail is irrelevant. All that matters to my point is that he didn’t hear his wife. This act occurs simultaneously when he is sleeping and resting on the couch. Thus, he is contributing to the hegemonic society where a man can come home after a long days work and relax, while his wife continues to clean despite also having a full-time job.

  5. This is selective hearing. I do not know of a time when it was not in place. Women used to always stay home and the men worked. Then when women started working the mentality was so entrenched that it was really not looked at as a change for men. It has been true of child care as well. While women were cleaning they were also raising the children. It has taken a long time for this to change toward equality. Some war with it still.

  6. Another thing, the Swiffer company appears to support the men work outside the home and come home to rest and the women work in the home only. They need to promote a sharing household.

  7. Thanks for your comment Judy. I agree with you that society has been structured where the men work outside the home and the women work at home, cleaning and raising children. This helped establish male dominance. However, when the majority of the abled bodied men went to war in the 1940’s, this left America’s industries with hardly any workers. Thus, women were brought into the workforce that was framed, by the media, as “helping my husband on the homefront.” This brief counter-hegemonic lifestyle opened the door for women to work outside of the home. But, in order to regain dominance, the hegemonic division of labor was reconfirmed by the media throughout the “Golden Age” or the 1950’s and 1960’s. It has to do with the level of comfort the dominant group feels about and issue and whenever their dominance is in question, due to female presence in a once all-male workforce, the media regurgitates old values. Thus, it is common to hear people remark, “I wish things were like the good old days” or “America needs to return to the ‘Golden Age'” because that is a comfort zone. Although it may seem like things were better back then in a documentary entitled, “White Like Me”, Tim Wise states that people think the government was smaller back in the 1960’s when in fact the tax rates were almost 3X’s higher at 91% than they are today, 30%. Thus, the media has desensitized society into buying into the greatness of the “Golden Age” while ignoring the facts which show it is not as great as it is painted to be. Instead, it is a means to maintain white, male supremacy over society, ei. Hegemony.

  8. I enjoyed all of the postings on this blog. While I agree with many of the statements I do feel (hope) we as a society have become more then these examples. Social norms do encourage many of these suppressive stereotypes but things have change, for the better. In days gone by interracial dating would have been met with violence now it is so widely accepted television shows commonly have the main characters as an interracial couple. A women in a leadership of a large company would have never happened and now women are at the helm. In America, we are blessed to have freedoms to work towards advancing ourselves, marry who we chose and enjoying a life of freedom. With that freedom does come the two edged sword. While we are free to choose who we marry, the job we have, and where we live. To get those things might look different for one person then another. As an example, people who go to Harvard or Yale will get a comparable education as someone who went to a state college. The advantage to the high price tag of that education is the connections that were made. These connections allow a person to move up within a company based on whom you know. It is clear in the example of The Pursuit of Happiness the main character was seen as less than his counter parts. I present it is not only because of his skin color but also because of where he obtained his education. Women are sexualized and it has been proven sex sells. Until people stop buying what sex has sold thing did not change. If we look at a car commercial, we will see it is not a “blonde bombshell” draped over the car but a family, an interracial family at that, showing how the car improves their lives. Stereotypes are alive in America but with blogs like this more people will be aware of the stereotypes individuals will look at themselves and their belief systems that will create the continued change equalizing everyone.

  9. Charlotte, thank you for the insight. Thank you for shedding light on elements that have become better over time, as in your interracial relationship example. Two well-known present television shows depicting interracial relationships are Scandal, with Olivia Pope torn between President Fitzgerald Grant and Jake Ballard, and Mistresses, with Dominic Taylor dating Savi Davis and April Malloy with Richard. You discuss the idea that, as American citizens, we have the right to decide who we marry, the job we have, and where we live but this varies from person to person. This is due to the idea of privilege. Based upon someone’s class or economic status, his ability to obtain higher success, both socially and domestically, may be better than someone else who has to work for a longer period of time, to become financially stable, before pursuing marriage. The key is to realize the road to success, which can mean a successful job, a successful family, a successful community, or all of the aforementioned items, varies over time from person to person since some may have more privilege, which was un-earned and un-asked for, expedited the process. I agree with your assessment about the Pursuit of Happyness being a prime example of the struggle an African American faces compared to his white counterparts. I have attached a commercial about the new Chevy traverse depicting the variation of American families. The problems society faces in regards to stereotypes, can be overcome because as said by sociologist C. Wright Mills, the solution lies in “the ability to see the relationship between the individual and the larger society” for “many of our particular problems (& our successes as well) are not unique to us but are the result of larger social trends.”

  10. I really love the way you start the blog post. It makes me find the similarity between the writer ( you) and the audience (me). An article about how to be a good wife which is published in the same time with I love Lucy (http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×5528902) is one of the most obvious example of how women were treated in the past. The situation now is much better, especially in the US, but in my country (Vietnam) where the patriarchy still have a profound impacts on our daily lives, the situation has not been improved much.

  11. Thuy thank you for your comment. I enjoyed reading the link to “The Good Wife’s Guide.” I did not know anything like that even existed. I think every country still faces some form of privilege associated to sex. The problem is that hegemony is so engrained in each society that it will take several decades to fully reframe it and carry-out the treatment.

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