In case anyone was thinking of visiting Biltmore this fall, I wanted to ask you to reconsider.
This afternoon I was driving home from lunch and class, and I heard an ad on the radio for Fall at Biltmore Estate. I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, an ad for Biltmore. It probably extolled the virtues of horseback riding with loved ones, sampling the best in wine in a wood paneled room, or seeing a really big house.” You would be wrong.
The ad began by comparing men to dogs in behavior and implicitly intelligence. In the background a woman said in a her best dog-owner voice, “who’s a good boy, who’s a good boy.” It ended by urging women to let their men out of the house to wander around and sniff things. The tone, impossible to convey completely here, was one of condescension.
I am sure that many who hear the ad will consider it playful and innocuous. It is true, most people love dogs and many men like it when their ladies talk to them in a playful tone. We can appreciate being made fun by friends and family for being the rougher sex, for indulging in sports, video games, and other manly attributes. In this context a jokes and teasing can be taken and accepted. I can even accept beer commercials that use male stereotypes to promote their product to me, because most commercials like that don’t insult their subjects.
However, color me incensed when a business trying to appeal to women compares men as a class of people to pigs, dogs, a Neanderthal, or some other lesser being. If that same business asked men to come to Biltmore to leave their nagging women in the kitchen while a male voice in the background said “make me a sandwich”, there would rightfully be an uproar. It would be offensive.
In the context of business advertising, I will not tolerate being demeaned and offended while a business is trying to earn my money. In this culture, there is a strong sense that no one can be made fun of using stereotypes except for certain classes of people (men included) and as a society we should not tolerate or patronize businesses who promote this sense through advertising.
I will just have to see some other big building this fall.