Culture Jam Assignment

The Original Ad

I choose the BiC South African poster that was originally used for celebrating National Women’s Day on Facebook in 2015. The poster shows a young African woman in a suit, smiling confidently and crossing her arms, it also states that “Look like a girl. Act like a lady. Think like a man. Work like a boss.”, which is a problematic statement that conveys sexist thinking, and I’d like to address them in this assignment.

First of all, why should women be expected to look like a girl? The infantilisation message behind this made people furious about the sexualisation of young girls; women do not need to look younger than they are in order to look good. Besides, “Act like a lady” and “Think like a man” are logically self-contradicted, people’s action is influenced by their thought, and these two statements expected a woman to act in a feminine way but also required them to think through a masculine lens. It also implies that “thinking like a woman” is not the right way in a working environment. In fact, I reckon that there is no right or wrong whether the muscular way of thinking is better in a work environment or not. The way to look, act, think and work depends on the person to decide what fits themselves the most, and shouldn’t be told by anyone else, whatever their gender it is.

It is ironic that BiC celebrated National Women’s Day with this statement. Women’s Day should be the day to promote women’s right and embraces who they really are, but not what the society expected them to be.


My Jammed Version

The above image is my culture jammed version of the problematic BiC’s sexist poster. I crossed out “a girl”, “a lady”, “a man” and “a boss” from the original statement with a red mark. The red colour is used to stand out from the image. Instead of telling what a woman should be, I added “BE YOURSELF! Nobody can define who you are.” under the original slogan as an attempt to alter the sexist message.

The jammed version conveys the message that there is no need to look youthful in order to look good, and masculine way of thinking is not superior to the feminine way of thinking, and vice versa. We should look, act, think and work like ourselves, and do not need other people to tell us what’s better and what’s worse. In order to be as confident as the woman in the poster, we just need to be ourselves. And the only one who can define you is you.

It strikes me a lot that even a pen manufacture company hr team thought it was okay to post such sexist statement at first, even though they quickly took it down and apologised for their action. It is actually not the first time BiC implants gender-stereotype idea on their advertisement, for instance, their BiC for her pink pen. It is critical to tackling the prevailing sexism ideology in our society and let everyone to embrace who they are, instead of what they should be. Nevertheless, there is a rising awareness of the sexism in the society and hopefully, more influencing company can help reducing such thought by promoting gender equality.