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.