Culture Jam: My Jammed Ad

My jamming of this ad attempted to uncover the meaning and intention behind Bic’s offensive poem. I felt it would be effective to translate each of the four statements into a summation of why their message was wrong. The following will illustrate how my work correlates to the original ad.

I translated “Look like a girl” to “young girls are hot” because the element of sexualizing youth was the most offensive part of that statement to me. Asking women to look like girls is problematic for a number of reasons mentioned in my first post, but for me the constant pressure media places on women to be “youthful” and “pretty” is extremely offensive.

The second line “Act like a lady” was translated to “But must be reserved” because we understand acting like a lady to be staying quiet and non-threatening. In combination with the first line it highlights the dichotomy of corporate desire for women to be workplace eye-candy and for them to stay non-threatening to men.

Finally, the third and fourth lines of “Think like a man, Work like a boss ” were decoded to “Men’s brains are better, and their power deserved.” I read Bic’s add as a cause-and-effect statement—if you look/act/think in this way, then you will work like a boss. My construction of the final two lines followed the cause-and-effect structure to its conclusion: men are more capable and intelligent, and therefore their disproportionate success and power in the workplace is deserved.

Culture Jam: Bic’s Women’s Day Ad

The ad released by Bic on International Women’s Day in 2015 was met with fury by women around the globe. Bic, a company that produces pointlessly gendered products from pens to razors, posted a picture of a smiling black woman with the text, “Look like a girl, Act like a lady, Think like a man, Work like a boss.” The ad is highly misogynistic and problematic. I will deconstruct the issues with each line of the sexist limerick in the following discussion.

The first of the instructions, “Look like a girl,” places emphasis on the importance of a woman’s appearance. Given the woman in the photo is wearing a button-up shirt and blazer, it is safe to assume these instructions refer to a workplace setting. A pen company asking women to “look like a girl” in a workplace setting essentially requires them to perform femininity whether they’d like to or not. Furthermore, the choice of the word “girl” over “woman” is diminutive, implying a lesser status. Finally, there is an undertone of sexualization of youth—equating “looking good” with “looking like a girl” is ageist at best and pedophilic at worst.

The lewd limerick continues with “Act like a lady,” an instruction for behavior. In popular culture understand acting like a lady to be staying polite, demure, meek, and reserved. Asking women to remain demure in the workplace is asking them to take a backseat to male coworkers, to not ask questions or challenge authority, and to cede honors or privileges to others. The fact that women remain underrepresented across organizations[1]—especially at senior levels of leadership—is in part due to women being conditioned into this behavior. Numerous guides[2] exist on “talking while female” and overcoming the silencing women face in the workplace. A corporation asking women to “act like a lady” is exactly the type of conditioning women work to overcome so that their voices can be heard.

Possibly the most offensive line in the ad is the third, “think like a man.” For what reason would one benefit from thinking “like a man” in the office? It is implicit in the message that men think better and more productively. Men are smarter and more assertive, it is assumed, perhaps because they hold more high-level positions—though women are negotiating for promotions as often as men, they simply face more pushback when they do (Yee).

Finally, “work like a boss” drives home the point that in order to be a boss or hold power a woman must adjust her behavior in the three ways mentioned above: stay pretty, stay quiet, and get smart.

[1] Yee, Lareina, Alexis Kirkovich, Eric Kutcher, Blair Epstein, Rachel Thomas, Ashley Finch,

Marianne Cooper, Ph.D., and Ellen Konar, Ph.D. “Women in the Workplace.” Women in the Workplace. McKinsey Global Institute, 2016. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

[2] “Women, silence is not a virtue in the workplace!” The Washington Post, 2015.

“Talking While Female: How Not to Be ‘Manterrupted’ in Meetings” Time Magazine, 2015

“How Not to be an ‘Invisible Woman’ at Work” Telegraph UK, 2015