Sexism Watch #1: The bank says women still need men to buy them stuff

I'm tired of spotting blatantly sexist ideas and advertising perpetuated all around me, and having to put up with people (men and women) telling me that it's nothing to be concerned about and/or that I should be glad that I have it so good as a woman in Singapore. So I bring to you Sexism Watch --- to highlight all those pesky little gender-based assumptions that insidiously plague our modern existence because it's easier to ignore or even indulge in them, than to challenge them.

Because women still need men to buy them stuff

Our first edition of Sexism Watch is brought to you courtesy of United Overseas Bank (UOB). I received a promotional pamphlet today that carried the above image on the cover (image taken from the bank's website). It advertises the UOB Personalised Supplementary Card, with the slogan, "With Love. From You." In the image above, the black credit card in the woman's hand carries, beside the bank logo, the words in cursive pseudo-handwriting script, "With Love. Jonathan".

So in attempting to encourage people to sign up for these personalised supplementary credit cards, the bank is appealing to men to give women the card --- because in this day and age, when 94.93% of women in Singapore work and women make up 44.54% of the active workforce (source: Statistics Singapore data as at June 2005 (PDF)), women still need men to extend to them the credit line that, it's implied, they couldn't otherwise have, in order to buy stuff.

Oh, and given the art direction for the photograph above, clearly we are also meant to think that love = giving your lover the ability to consume more. Disturbing on so many levels.

Granted, inside the pamphlet, the copy clarifies that the card can be for anyone who matter: "be it your parents, siblings or spouse". But a picture's worth a thousand words, right? Not to mention the fact that in terms of parcelling out its advertising budget, the bank chose to invest its money in the image above rather than to highlight any other relationship with a loved one.

As someone who's always made a decent income comparable to my husband's (and it would have been on par with his if not for certain sexist practices in government payroll principles), I'm mortally insulted by the advertising's inherent assumption that I can't afford to have my own credit card and/or be trusted with a credit line to buy my own stuff. (All this, of course, assuming I want to buy more stuff and consume more in the first place.) I work hard for the money, okay, and I like being financially independent. Stop telling women that they ought to desire a man who'd give them a credit card "with love". Thank you.


Technorati Tags: , ,

Labels: ,


At 6/12/2006 1:20 pm , Blogger Elia Diodati said...

The latest materialist instalment of the usual woman-man mind games.

At 6/12/2006 6:34 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

They actually have a credit card for women paid by men? What happen to all those cats that are waiting for credit line from their owners? I bet they're pissed.

Ok... I know that was flip but yeah, you's right again!

At 6/12/2006 8:53 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I would really love a man to give me a supplementary card :)

At 6/12/2006 10:21 pm , Blogger cour marly said...

Oh c'mon, you know it's really a covert campaign by women to make men pay for stuff they can afford themselves, right? We don't need men to buy stuff for us. We want men to buy stuff for us. After all we live longer than them so they don't need the money...


ps: UOB's head credit card person for the longest time was a woman (until she took early retirement 2 years ago).

At 6/12/2006 11:27 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The image is actually trying to say: Give 'em some lousy plastic card and you'll get some good humping! Yeehaaa.

At 6/12/2006 11:53 pm , Blogger Little Miss Drinkalot said...

Actually, I don't get the impression that the advertisment implies women cannot afford their own credit line.

It seems the bank is marketing the credit card like any other consumer good. Instead of giving your loved one a pair of earrings (for example), give her a credit card so she can buy whatever she wants.

At 6/13/2006 1:08 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've learnt to ignore this picture.thought it quite 'unchic'. it totally sends out a different message from their ladies' card- which happen to have better rewards/points than this particular card.

At 6/13/2006 11:15 pm , Blogger cour marly said...

> So perhaps we men can look forward to getting our supplementary cards

It's not as common but does happen. A friend of mine gave her boyfriend a supplementary card, and I know of someone else doing the same. I do not know of a wife giving her husband a supplementary card...

At 6/15/2006 1:46 am , Blogger Mandrake said...

I saw an ad in Malaysia HSBC regarding creditcard for the significant others.

The guy showed his "love" by buying a necklace for her.

The gal showed her "love" by giving him a credit card statement with $0 on it.

At 6/15/2006 9:26 am , Blogger Tym said...

LMD > Yep, they're marketing the card, and they've chosen to do it by putting the woman in the subordinate position of receiving the card (which is meant to be seen as a prized good and, ugh, worse, a sign of affection). Or put it another way: the entire brochure carries only one image --- and they've chosen that image to be the one above. That says something. Also, unlike a one-off purchase of jewellery or accessories or whatever, the consumer good being given away is inextricably linked to one's income and ability to continue earning that income.

Imp > Ugh, don't even get me started on why there is a "Ladies'" card in the first place and what that says about assumptions of gender-based consumption and the perpetuation of those assumptions.

TaLieSin > I'm not arguing for the de-gendering of everything. Some consumer goods are gendered for a very good reason. (Btw, earrings are nowadays arguably potentially gender-neutral, depending on the style.) However, when the item in question, as I mentioned in response to LMD above, is a "gift" that reflects one's ability to maintain an income that satisfies the bank's requirement for issuing a supplementary credit card, then that gift, and the giving of it, becomes loaded with a wealth (ha ha) of assignations about gendered roles with regard to work and providing for one's loved ones/family. In Singapore, at least, men are not --- and should not be assumed to be --- the sole breadwinners anymore.

cour marly > I have given Terz a supplementary credit card before ;) Just as he's given me one. It helps us to cover our bases without having to juggle too many separate bills.

PMG > Amen to that, except for your comment that "our numbers are dwindling, so the old excuse of women giving birth makes no sense since they are not giving birth as much anymore." There is a physical difference in the ability to bear a child, whereas on the other points (alimony, child custody, NS, glass ceiling, paternity leave, employment laws), I'm completely with you. But sorry lah, already married, so cannot give you a supp card :)

Mandrake > ARGH! Just the thought of that ad makes my blood boil!!

At 6/19/2006 1:50 am , Blogger the baker said...

loved this post of yours.

just too bad gender bias will always prevail no matter what. thanks to capitalism. sucks but that's how the world functions. don't you just hate that? i know i do. us ladies always have the shorter end of the stick.

At 6/19/2006 2:50 am , Blogger Unknown said...

man i really do hate the banks' advertising here.

At 5/09/2007 6:56 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

in my honest opinion, i don't think it is a question of who buys what for who. this is advertising. advertising is often crude and most of the time senseless. and if you are really gonna argue about this ad, i think we will be all fools for we are giving advertisers the attention they most desperately want. this ad is only trying to get more customers. don't be offeded by such trival things.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]