The War on Terror Against Women

I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Fascism comes in many forms.”  Well, so does terrorism.  Merriam-Webster actually defines “terrorism” as, “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”  With that in mind, let us watch:

Better yet:

Brinks Home Security actually has an entire page on YouTube dedicated to these commercials (My personal favorites are “First Date” and “The House Party”) .  All of them feature male intruders. All of them feature female victims.  And all of them feature male saviors in the form of Brinks employees.

The consistent male intruder  –> female victim –> male savior scenario tells us that not only are women subject to violence from men, they are also dependent upon them for their safety.  This creates an especially terrifying picture:  the very people I am supposed to trust are also the ones that will hurt me!  And in my own home!  Without consciously or explicitly thinking this, a female viewer will probably still feel the effects.

Brinks hopes that the terror its ads inspire in female viewers will cause them to purchase a home security system, and indeed, many of them may do so.  However, the ads may effect a woman’s thinking in more ways than that.  It may cause her to feel uncomfortable being alone in her apartment or house.  It may cause her to be more distrustful of men, but at the same time, it may cause her to feel more dependent upon men.  She may only feel safe at home if a man is there with her.  And yet, she may not feel safe on a first date unless a girlfriend is there, too.

Of course, one viewing of a commercial like this will probably not cause a tremendous shift in thinking all at once.  But, it’s naive to think that our ideas, opinions, and beliefs are completely uninfluenced by such subtle (or not so subtle) messages.

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36 Comments

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36 responses to “The War on Terror Against Women

  1. Chelsea

    “She may only feel safe at home if a man is there with her. And yet, she may not feel safe on a first date unless a girlfriend is there, too.”

    Very well put! I wonder if these ads are a reflection of, or imposition on, our psyche? In 1955 it would have been men making these ads. Today I bet you there is a woman in creative control of at least one of the two you posted.

    • The Brinks Home Security system commercials play on our fears; if we fear, then we’ll buy their product. It’s not a new concept, the fashion industry has been doing it for decades.
      As a mother I appreciate the first video; perhaps it’ll remind kids (and not just girls, although girls are more often shamed for outlandish behavior while boys are congratulated) that the Internet is forever and our past does come back to haunt us.

  2. Interesting…Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. but…..but…We’re nice 😦

  4. Bruce

    Ok, but here is another point of view – I agree with you completely about these ads; but think about this…I am tired to death of being portrayed, as a man, of either being a psychopath or a complete idiot! There are a *lot* more ads that portray husbands and fathers as incompetant boobs who may only be “saved” from that stupidity by a woman. A recent commercial is a prime example, the one with the father dipping his son’s feet into what looks like a rubber concoction, because he and the son are “tired of socks that don’t fit!” The wife/mother even says, “that is just stupid!” and proceeds to hurl Hanes socks at the pair. He is a dufus, and she saves the day…how many commercials do you think a man could get away with telling a woman that a decision that she makes is “stupid”? Think Homer Simpson, an entire show dedicated to the fact that fathers are idiots, or the Lifetime channel, where pretty much *all* of the films deal with women terrorized by evil men! My favorite is the perennial favorite, “Mother May I Sleep with Danger?” starring none other than Tori Spelling…I mean, seriously? The implications of both of these stereotypical portrayals is damaging, wouldn’t you agree? I am neither evil, nor philandering, nor controlling, nor psychopathic. I believe in and strongly encourage the strength and independence of women; I am a husband and father, I adore my wife and pre-school daughter (with another little girl on the way), am happily monogamous and do not dream of beating women, breaking into houses to impose my will, or dipping a child’s feet into goo. Go figure.

    • Wonderful response Bruce. I was getting ready to imply equal points until I read your response.

    • Indeed very good response. I’ve seen that commercial you mentioned about Hanes socks. When it comes to kitchen appliances, home decor, and clothing, as well as any retail product that would hurt or help a child, the advertisements hone in on the mother figure’s buying power.

  5. srqpix

    I always thought those ads were weird. I’m surprised they didn’t do the ultimate and make the intruder a person of color…seeing how racism is back in style these days.

    • prowlerzee

      Oh, I’m so glad someone wrote about those offensive Brinks ads….and srqpix, there was one…when the mother and daughter came in from playing in the back yard and the guy spying on them broke in…that was so offensive I rewound and went thru it frame by frame. Because they did manage to make him look like a POC when he broke in. I almost thought they briefly substituted a POC, but I finally concluded they just made him purse his lips, and some other little things.

  6. Bruce, thank you for your excellent response.

    I think it’s foolish to read deep-seated psychological meanings into commercials.

    To say there’s a “war on terror against women” within some silly commecial is not only paranoid, but it also detracts from genuine examples of abuse against women:

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/campaigns/stop-violence-against-women

    The above link to Amnesty International presents disturbing examples of systemic violence against women, most recently in Afghanistan, Uganda, Albania, and elsewhere.

    Look, companies that advertise are capitalizing on the insecurities of *all* consumers – both sexes, all ages, one’s socio-economic status, all races – regardless of the product, whether it’s a home security system, or toothpaste, or a prestigious car. The message of commecials is not to pick on one group of people; the message is “Buy this! Buy that! Or you’re not a member of the ‘in crowd’!”

    • Just to be precise, a “war on terror” would mean fighting against terrorism. So, the commercials are not a “war on terror” because they aren’t fighting against terror, but are inspiring it in viewers.

    • not so anonymous

      And not to overlook the Congo…. Where is the reality based viewpoint that women and children are in fact less physically strong, less likely to express their bad character in breaking and entering or murder and mayhem, and more often in need of the provision and protection of strong good men? Has it become so PC to demand that women and men are not only equal but also exactly the same that we can not even see the real situation? I hate the constant poison drip message (referred to by Bruce )running through the culture that men are stupid and weak just so women can feel ‘equally’ strong and aggressive….it’s BS.

  7. A simple scare tactic, to make those without brinks security feel unsafe.

    This isn’t about womens rights IMO, its about appealing to fear.

    I”ve taken marketing too.
    Remain.Simple

  8. Thank you for posting this! Society needs to realize that the images of women in the media are constantly skewed- from women needing protection to the oversexualized portrayals we’re all too familiar with.

    • Bruce

      To be honest, when I saw the commercials referred to, I was out in fear for the safety of my daughter and pregnant wife. Don’t believe for a second that the only fear being played on here are the fears of women…I cannot fathom the depths of rage and revenge I am capable of producing should my family be harmed in the ways depicted. I do not believe that our government can or will protect me or my family, and there is case law which indicates that our police do *not* have the responsibility to protect us by putting themselves in harm’s way; I have made too many “emergency” calls to the police that go ignored for me to ever believe they will somehow show up “in time”. Therefore, I will teach my daughters to protect themselves with whatever strengths they possess, not to rely upon some non-existent knight to rescue them, to use their heads, and fight for the right of all people to be free of fear.

  9. You made so many great and valid points. I never thought of any of this in this way before! ANd you are also right about ‘terrorism’ and how it is defined. These days that word has been used mostly as a form of racial profiling when it in fact can be used in many other obvious ways.

    Great blog. Keep up the good work.

    Feel free to check out my blog too at http://www.norasalemwrites.wordpress.com

    I’m adding you to my blogroll!

    ~~NS
    http://www.norasalemwrites.wordpress.com

  10. Very good post. Thank you!

  11. We have seen these commercials on television and have thought they are quite ridiculous and almost comical. Especially because they make woman and children look extremely helpless as well as the only victims in violence. Let’s keep this awareness alive and continue to take a stance as you have done. Thanks!

  12. interesting! That Brinks commercial always pissed me off for those reasons. And did you notice how the silly broad actually ushered her kids upstairs, so that they would all be trapped when Richard the Rapist came inside? Wake up to 2010, could you have made a more stupid decision? haha.

    As for “not so anonymous”: equality goes both ways. That means that I hold open doors for men, pick up the check on a date, give you my seat on the bus if you’ve got shit to carry, and have the same opportunities as you do in our lovely modern society. Enjoy this a little. Men are not given this portrayal of being stupid and weak so that women can feel strong and agressive.

    example: a friend of mine who works in a nightclub was one of the people who caught some thug trying to steal a bunch of booze, and with all the bouncers and other “strong men” there, SHE choked him out and restrained him. She didn’t do it because she wanted to prove a point. It just had to be done, and since she didn’t have a burqa weighing her down, she solved a problem and came to the rescue all by herself. Amazing!
    I think the shift of power may have bruised your fragile ego over the years. There are still sexual inequalities in our society that are subtle, yet harmful. I’m just happy I live where I do, and am grateful that a whiny little sexist prick like you doesn’t have much control of anything anymore. 🙂
    Cheers, cool post

  13. Love it. It’s really important to acknowledge and discern the subliminal or subconscious effects the ever-present media, in its many forms, have on us and on the shaping of our culture. Thanks for pointing this out.

  14. nomad27

    While I agree that there are far more important issues to worry about, maybe that’s the point we should focus on. We’re not paying enough attention to real problems around the world, because we’re being encouraged to live in fear of every male we see. (Bruce, you make very good points.)

    Have you seen Saturday Night Live’s parody of the home security ad? I think it helps cure the fear by pointing out how ridiculous it is:

  15. Which came first: the deeply ingrained fear of rape or the advertising capitalizing on this fear?

    It’s hard to come up with a counter-campaign using men as the victim that doesn’t end up parodying a female assailant. Sadly, people do not appreciate the power of martial arts in the right pair of slim hands.

  16. These commercials should only encourage us to take self defense classes and be our own saviors. Brinks and other home security systems call before sending help. That doesn’t help me when I am being chased by a monster.

  17. Good point I have never liked these commercials. It always made me feel like they were trying to make women seem like they are weak or cannot be alone or protect ourselves from predators. It’s insulting!

  18. My solution? Purchase a handgun. Or get a dog, which is one of the best deterents against burglary. Self-reliance is important. As much as I love men, I know there are a lot of men out there we, as women, should fear. A gun gives me the feeling of power I need for the ones that cross the line, such as entering my home uninvited.

  19. Andrea

    Grea post. Amazing how the prince charming syndrome permeaes all our lives.

  20. Nicole

    I don’t know, I simply just don’t know. My life without a male figure taught me to be tougher than my exterior may have shown. I do, however, think it’s ridiculous that we constantly complain about our rights and our status in the States while other women around the world are put to death for simply suggesting they may have a brain that thinks. What? Women have feelings? Stone them. Execute them. Rape them and hang them in front of their children. While I don’t mean to offend, I do feel that we as a nation are selfish and tend to forget those in need. What could you give up today that may benefit a woman, a child, a vet in need? A cup of coffee? A gallon of gas? A lunch at Taco Bell? We take many things for granted. Many. Things. I pray you will make the right choice today. Don’t offer the homeless man on the street a buck. Take him out to lunch. I dare you.

  21. Good Sense

    Good that definition of ‘terrorism’ by Merriam-Webster: “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”

    Indeed that includes, outstandingly, what US armies do all along the world.

  22. “This creates an especially terrifying picture: the very people I am supposed to trust are also the ones that will hurt me!”

    In a conversation with a male friend several years ago, I mentioned the then-current statistic that 25% of all females in the U.S. have been raped by someone they know – a family member, a friend, or a boyfriend – by the time they reach the age of 20.

    John looked stunned while he absorbed the implications of this statement, then finally blurted out, “Then how can any girl possibly ever trust any guy?”

    I grimaced and shrugged, “I guess we just have to take our chances.”

    • Bruce

      Hmmm…you know, I still have the feeling that I am the bad guy here, because I am a man. Do your statistics tell you how many men/boys are molested or raped in this country? Of course not. Why? Is it somehow because we deserve it, because of all of the raping and pillaging men have committed in the past? Is the rape of a female child somehow more heinous than the rape of a make child, to the extent that we support the open discussion, support and vilification of one, while ignoring and minimizing the other? When you hear of priests (such as in the current disaster in Brazil) molesting children, who by and large is it that are raped and molested? Girls? Women? These crimes are done to both sexes, and I would suggest that they are in greater numbers than anyone acknowledges. The problem ultimately, is that those boys who are raped in many instances grow up angry and seek revenge of any type against anyone they can, preferably the weak(er) – other children or women. This is proven.
      Now how many of you have bought Disney princess videos for your daughters or nieces, have princess books, or you have dressed your children up or been dressed up as princesses, or even sons as princes (or *superHEROS*), suggesting that if you are female you need rescue, and if you are a boy you need to be a hero? If you are honest, I would suggest that statistically many of have done just that – and you wonder why as adults we mirror this? Men learn they are not heroes, will not have that six pack everyone loves (do you think poor media body images are only a *female* thing??) but rather we are powerless in the face of overwhelming economic and police power, that we are not respected by society, by the media, or by women in general (since you feel you have to take your “chances”), regardless of how nice or polite, sensitive or “communicative” we try to become (because since birth we are told to be strong, work hard, and yet be “sensitive” to attract a female -huh?), told we have the “power” and we find that we have very little real self-determination – *unless* we are called to die alone in the sand “for our country” in some barren place far away. Pissed off? Feeling lied to? You bet. There are several important points of view here that have to be acknowledged and taken into account when trying to make generalizations.
      “I am not prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be…”

  23. madmonq

    I work with a local government. I talk to a lot of single college aged woman, many of whom don’t seem to see themselves as people but as a future crime victim.

    After the 3rd or 4th in a day I want to scream in their face “There is nothing wrong with you! Fight any bastard who gives you a problem!” but they think that makes them the bad guy. They don’t believe they are capable of taking care of themselves. Is it wrong that this makes me furious?

  24. Personally I feel uncomfortable in my apartment and sometimes I hear voices but I have to take into consideration that I’m not the only person living in the building. I understand that most of the advertising is geared towards women because in essence they still think we are the weaker sex. Personally I’m in the Military and not only have I been trained in hand-to-hand combat, weapon marksmanship, and being able to use anything as a weapon if need be.

    I understand what they are doing. It’s the same with me (as a woman) being in the Army. If I’m wearing an Army shirt people always ask me if it’s my husband I’m supporting. I was at the Post Exchange buying something and the cashier asked me for my Spouse ID. WTF?! I sometimes feel like we are in 1950 where women are just housewives and holy crap if they are working someplace not doing secretarial work.

    Sometimes It feels like we women are still in the dark ages. If someone tried to break into my house I’m going right for my swords. You may have a crowbar but my sword is longer.

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