Milk is such a clean product. White and pure and wholesome. It comes from cows who though ugly in real life have been charicatured into the picture of domestic tranquility and harmony. They have been portrayed as happy go lucky ‘happy cows’ making tastey, sweet cheese with the milk that comes from their plump, soft udders. They’ve been adorned with aprons and flowers leis around their sweet little bovine necks and portrayed as domestic Goddesses – the very essence of mother-love.
And now the milk industry brings us an advertisment so insidious in its undertones it makes my milk fortified teeth hurt. The background music is an R&B classic instrumental. Very sexy. In the ad men are seen hoarding milk, grabbing it away from each other at the convenience store, looting it out of the delivery truck while hastily tossing some spare change on the seat, carrying home so many cartons that they have to put a little carrier pack on the dog to move it all. The men are clearly wracked with fear, desperate to acquire as much milk as they possibly can. The screen goes black and we are shown the message –
“A recent study has shown that calcium may reduce the symptoms of PMS”
– which is read to us by a guy with an Al Green voice.
We then switch to a shot of a man with roses in one hand and several cartons of milk in the other creeping into his own home and warily calling out “honey, I’m home” while his head swings back and forth like a solider on the lookout for a sniper.
Terrific. We are introduced (in a big way) to yet another image of woman as a once a month emotionally fractious, irrational Hulk moment wating to happen – to the image of wife as a potential fire breathing dragon just waiting to castrate her man under the influence of a hormonal rage.
When I was a kid I remember my mother telling me that women couldn’t be pilots because their vision changed once a month during ‘the curse’. She believed it, too. She believed a lot of sexist claptrap and was herself a misogynist having been well trained by her Victorian era parents. Now we don’t need parents to give our daughters a good dose of self loathing – we have the advertising industry stepping up to the plate and making sure that all of those image positive young girls don’t get too full of themselves.
If you look at the Got Milk web site what you see is a story about how calcium supplements help women with dibilitating symptoms of PMS feel better. The Got Milk newswire information includes the phrase ‘mood swings’ to lead the reader to believe that one of the PMS symptoms that can be alleviated by drinking milk is mood swings. However, if you dig a little further you find an abstract that states: The women were monitored throughout three menstrual cycles. Each provided daily documentation of 17 core symptoms and 4 symptom factors including water retention, food cravings, and pain. The results showed a 48 percent reduction in total symptom scores compared to a 30 percent reduction seen with the placebo. The researchers concluded that calcium is a simple, effective treatment in premenstrual syndrome, resulting in a major reduction of associated symptoms.
See anything in there about mood swings? Neither did I but that comes as no surprise. It isn’t the science of the study that is important. What is important is using hackneyed old stereotypes to trash women. And so to the milk industry I say a hearty Fuck-moo.