Got Milk: Give Your Children Some Sexism With That Calcium

A new “got milk?” campaign has debuted and it’s straight up sexist. Based on alleged research that calcium specifically in dairy milk reduces the symptoms of PMS, the ads feature weary looking men presenting cartons of milk to the viewer with sayings like “I’m sorry I listened to what you said and not what you meant,” “We can both blame myself,” and “I’m sorry for the thing or things I did or didn’t do.” Although the California Milk Processor Board claims to have based these ads on nutritional findings, the company has chosen to align their message about health with antagonistic attitudes about women. And if you’re looking to discuss nutrition with your children based on these ads, you’ll unfortunately have to stumble over the overt sexism to get there.

The campaign, which is intended to run through August, features a website entitled everythingidoiswrong.org displaying a tagline that reads “Your home for PMS management.” With gadgets and sensors and data feeds, the website is designed to look like a bunker scanning the terrain for godzilla — or in this case, a woman with PMS. The New York Times even pointed out that by tacking the “dot org” at the end of the website instead of “dot com,” the site “make[s] it seem as if the campaign is offering a public service to the men affected by PMS.”

Considering our nation’s efforts to get children to make healthful decisions about what they consume, all food companies that are boasting health benefits are currently in a position to influence children’s health. And even though dairy milk is debatable as a “healthy choice,” depending on the quality, the hormones, etc., California Milk Processor Board nevertheless had an opportunity to capture the public’s imagination with a point about health. Calcium may reduce PMS symptoms, but sadly children will now learn that bit of information within the context that women are monsters that men have to be careful of. That their erratic behavior needs to be “appeased” with endless cartons of milk, coddled with teddy bears and apologies, and “endured” through terrorism reminiscent color codes of yellow, red, and orange.

Children consume these ads. They consume these products. And they get the message that women are the equivalent of domestic terrorism.

(photo: nytimes.com)

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    • Abigail

      Personally, I think the ad is hilarious (although I’ve never seen it before today), and it would never affect anything having to do with teaching my children about health or sexism. If a joking ad like that is all it takes to ruin your children regarding gender roles and sexism, you’re probably doing a pretty lousy parenting job in the first place.

      • Jen

        The point is that this is the sort of thing children are exposed to continually in the marketplace. Women are nags and hags and especially awful when they have their period (heck, we should just lock them up in a barn until they are sexy and passive again, amirite boys?). In turn there are plenty of ads that teach that any man who acts in a feminine or feminized way is a “bad” man and should be mocked and treated disrespectfully.
        Also, I think you have a pretty dumb sense of humor. No offense or anything, but seriously is this 1950? Men who still find humor in the old “she must be on the rag” excuse are pretty horrible and women who agree don’t realize how much gender stereotypes have effected them. I beg you to teach your girls and boys it’s NOT ok to make sweeping generalizations about the opposite gender and it is definitely NOT ok to assume that anytime a woman disagrees with or gets angry with a man it’s because she’s PMSing.

        Added Bonus: They aren’t even telling the truth in the ad. The study they conducted would require a woman to drink four to five glasses of milk a day. The study ALSO suggested that it was a combination of calcium, Vitamin D and Magnesium that helped and that it needs to be taken EVERY day, not just in the week leading up to one’s period. So misleading and sexist. Clearly a winning combo.

    • Kit

      So, I’ve had a talk with my ovaries and we three agree y’all are ridiculous. This campaign is no more sexist than one featuring a knowing housewife rolling her eyes at her husband’s inept attempts to BBQ or failure to properly program a VCR or whatever else the stereotyped man fails at life. Most recently a company put out an ad featuring a man who, after and his friends track a giant mess into the living room expresses the stereotypical male stupidity and immaturity by trying to put up a feeble lie about how the delivery man did it. I didn’t see a scathing attack on Digiorno from this site when that ad came out. These ad play on a recognized societal archetypes of the woman who becomes particularly disagreeable while suffering PMS and the man who loves her and wants to avoid trouble. It’s FUNNY. It is, in fact, one of the more humorous campaigns I’ve seen in a long while and I thank you for bringing my attention to it. If none of the women in their lives exhibit a tendency to become unreasonably vicious a few days a month, the worst thing that will happen to your sons is that they won’t get the joke. Of course, being raised by someone looking for a phantom to fight when there’s real discrimination in the world, they probably won’t have much humor grown in ‘em anyway. This is childrearing we’re talking about. You gotta learn to chill out or you’ll never make it out alive.

      • Jen

        The fact that you don’t get it makes me weep for any children you might have. Can’t wait till they are old enough to explain why we women are always wrong because we bleed from our vaginas once a month.

      • Bonnie

        Spot on, Kit.
        Jen, ever consider that you and the author might just be overly sensitive (or dare I say… PMS-ing)?

      • Jen

        Bonnie,

        Ever consider the fact that you have just proven myself and the original author correct? The fact that you can joke that we are being too sensitive or hysterical about an issue and that must mean we are bleeding from our vaginas at the moment IS the problem. Anytime a man (or self hating woman) wants to derail a valid conversation with a female all he (or despicable she) has to do is play the old (and it is older than the internet for Chrissakes) “you must be on the rag” card and all rational discussion is over.

        And, sweetie (you probably don’t get why this is offensive either), no matter how much you think it’s going to make you seem cool or like you are one of the guys to laugh at all us PMSing women getting our panties in a bunch because we don’t happen to find casual misogyny funny what it is actually doing is confirming to all those men out there that you can and should be treated like a hysterical, stupid, second class kind of person and what’s more, that you will laugh and clap your hands about it.

    • Crystal

      The got milk ads are all ridiculous. There is no biological reason to drink milk and it’s certainly not a health food.

    • Melissa

      You can’t say “no offense” to offset a bunch of direct attacks on someone like that…

      I also think it’s funny and I hope the values my husband and I instill in our son will be just as, if not more, effective than any marketing he is exposed to. I doubt kids are going to “get” these ads anyway.

      I plan for my husband and I to be a good example of a functional, happy relationship that does not revolve around stereotypes like these. But I don’t plan to get all up in arms about it. There are far worse things in the world for him to be exposed to.

    • Jen

      At least now I know why the GOP’s attack on women is working. There are enough females who have decided it’s better to derail and laugh when men (who are the ones behind this ad campaign) attack them and try and claim that since we aren’t being stoned to death for adultery it’s totally ok to be treated as second class citizens.

    • Pingback: Plug Pulled On PMS Got Milk Campaign, One Less Sexist Ad To Explain To The Kids | Mommyish()

    • sadie

      oh come on. stop being so damn sensitive. these ads were obviously meant as a joke. and i doubt they’re running them on nickelodion or in coloring books. you need to get a sense of humor and stop thinking every single thing revolves around your child. because news flash, it doesn’t. you and your family are the only ones who care about your kid. and companies have the right to run ads without having to first ask you if it will bother your kid. they don’t need to ask for your consent. if you don’t like it, don’t look at it. DUH.

    • Jacqueline Tourville

      I agree this ad was ridiculously sext, but you can get calcium from sooooo many other food sources besides milk! http://www.womentowomen.com/pms/eating-for-pms.aspx

    • RKBoogeyman

      I dunno…as a woman, I found these to be pretty damn funny. Nobody seems to go after the husbands who talk trash on their wives on TV. Why? Because they are meant for adults. They are jokes that adults understand. Will kids see it? Yeah, sure, but they probably won’t understand it until they hit puberty.

      Not every woman is a raging beast during PMS but that is the humorous depiction of it. My husband certainly fears ME though I’ve given him no reason to do so. Heck, he’d probably add how he’s doomed because I’m lactose intolerant lol.

      To me, it’s one of those things you just roll with. It’s funny.