Swiffer's Rosie the Riveter Ad Called Sexist. Why Are Cleaning Ads So Outdated?

What's wrong with this Swiffer ad? (Image: Swiffer.com)Swiffer swept its latest ad campaign under the rug just a day after much of the internet took offense at how World War II feminist icon Rosie the Riveter had been pressed into service steam-mopping floors.

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That's right. An icon of women's war-time strength and adaptability, back in the kitchen where she belongs.

Heather Beschizza spotted the ad, snapped a picture, and posted it on Instagram and Twitter along with the caption: "We can do it! Because cleaning kitchens is a woman's work. #swiffer #sexist"

Consumers were not amused. "Swiffer tells women 'We can do it!' 'It' in this case being housework," tweeted the Women's Fund of New Hampshire. "We're super unimpressed."

"If you can't see why it's offensive, or at least incredibly ignorant, to use her likeness to market a FANCY BROOM, then you're not looking," commented Raina Douris at Buzzfeed. "The whole point is that Rosie symbolizes women's DEPARTURE from being solely responsible for homemaking. This ad is backwards."

"What was the thought process behind the Rosie ad?" asked Bailey Spitzer, on Facebook. "Our target demographic is women, let's be condescending to them?"

"Because nothing says, 'I can’t wait to rush home from my full-time job to start my second shift of devalued, unpaid household labor with my Swiffer Bissel Steam Boost!' like Rosie the Riveter," wrote Maya at Feministing

Surprised to discover that women in 2013 don't necessarily think "We Can Do It!" should apply to housework, Swiffer's parent company, Proctor & Gamble, is scrambling to undo the damage.

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"It was not our intention to offend any group with the image, and we are working to make changes to where it is used as quickly as possible," the company said in a statement (and repeated over and over again on Twitter and on Facebook).

The Steam Boost mop officially launched on Tuesday, but we don't think Proctor & Gamble has gotten the message yet. On their Facebook page, they're touting the product with a photo of a light blue floor, puffs of steam, and a message from "Christina G.": "Where have you been all my life?" The company also still has three other Swiffer ads in heavy rotation, and all of them feature women who "break up" with their old mops and dusters while falling in love with Swiffer's sleek cleaning products.

Swiffer isn't the only brand that links housework to romance. There's hunky Mr. Clean who makes the ladies swoon as they start scrubbing (why doesn't he ever clean anything himself? He just hands the cleaning product to the nearest women and watches). There's Target and its 2013 ad campaign to lend laundry a little sex appeal. Liquid Plumr tries to prove that their Double Impact drain unclogger is so good that it not only flushes your pipes, it, um, flushes your pipes in the middle of the supermarket while the sexy guy at the deli watches.

And then there's the flannel-shirt wearing Brawny guy, who inspires helpless women to buy manly paper towels to clean up big, scary messes. Remember the "I'm Just Running WIth This Rock" commercial? No? Let us refresh your memory:

Swiffer's Rosie the Riveter ad seems horribly outdated in 2013 but, you know what? In spite of the fact that women make up 40 percent of the sole or primary breadwinners in the country, according to the latest data from the Pew Research Center, women still do the bulk of the housework, and so cleaning companies are still marketing their products to the ladies.

We just wish they understood that they're never going to get us to swoon about it.

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