You Can Do It! Clean the kitchen, that is.

Heather spotted this remarkably sad ad from Swiffer, aping Westinghouse Electric's classic wartime poster, We Can Do It! Adds Jason: "I love the clear tribute to an important historical image done in such a way as to piss on its legacy."


  1. im trying to find a full image of the ad so i can see all the text

    also: when are they going to start marketing domestic stuffs to men? im a man, i cook, i clean, wheres the ads to pander to my needs?

    1. I was just thinking the same thing. I’ve even been known to put a bandana on my head and get down and scrub tile floors. It never ceases to amaze me that some of the jobs which were historically relegated to women often required brute strength, as well as getting dirty–qualities associated with supposedly manly activities.

      I’m not in favor of bashing either gender, but there are times when I find it hard to defend my fellow Y-chromosomers.

      1. when you clean stuff you get to play with powerful solvents and mysterious chemicals, what’s more exciting than that?

        also, we cant really assume that the ad  was made by a man, it very well could have been made or at least supervised by a woman

        1. Absolutely. Marketing persons are known for their crassness at the expense of their personal identity. The designer could have been a lady, the art director, the management, there are all sort of ways that this abomination is birthed.

          1. I’am an Art Director and my number 1 rule is “don’t stereotype”. You’ll get in all sorts of trouble. Been there done that. Oh, also, my woman can’t clean for shit. I keep my place tight!

          2. I’ve had dozens of male and female roommates, and the notion that women are better housekeepers than men is as silly as the idea that gay men all have good taste.

          3. I agree with everything you said except for the implication that a woman (or man or transperson or genderqueer or intersex person for that matter) must personally identify with either their biology or assigned gender role (depending on whether we’re talking about biological sex or cultural gender). Anyway, doubt you meant anything by it and not trying to concern troll, just pointing out what seems to be an erroneous implication of your wording.

          4. Well, sure. I was just responding to a particular reference to sex/gender and not implying any more.

        1. my wife never uses our power tools, i need to call her out on in, i cant be expected to mow all the lawns and fasten all the loose pieces of wood to each other after i have cut them into pieces

          shes gotta do her part

          1. – dishwasher
            – oven
            – stove
            – refrigerator
            – mixer
            – coffee grinder
            – toaster
            – vacuum cleaner
            – clothes washer
            – dryer
             etc. etc.

            These are power tools.  Take it from someone who used to be a professional chef in a venue with no electricity or grocery stores.  You try keeping house and feeding people without any power tools sometime.  ‘Tain’t easy.

            But thanks for proving the stereotype that the term “power tools” refers to tools that are conventionally thought of as used for “male” chores.

          2. will you accept my apology? i didn’t mean anything by it i swear

            in the future what should i call the set of tools that people commonly refer to as power tools? 

          3. Maybe you should acknowledge that some tools have been designated as men’s tools, and some tools have been designated as women’s tools, but they’re all still tools.

          4. Meanwhile, in the English language that people actually use, “power tools” means handheld tools used mainly for construction and maintenance type tasks. It does not mean “any machine that uses any sort of electrical or hydraulic power.”

          5. Meanwhile, in the English language that people actually use…

            Usage develops in a cultural context. Try applying your usage argument to slurs and see if it flies.

          6. The cultural context is that power tools still means the common definition. There’s nothing obscurely offensive about it, the way people used to use “gyp” probably without realizing it had anything to do with the Romani people. Insisting that normal everyday terms are offensive without any evidence or argument as to why is not how usage develops. When it was pointed out that “gyp” has a racist etymology, the term gradually fell out of favor.

            If you can convince people that calling a washing machine not-a-power-tool is somehow demeaning to women or something… well, good luck with that, but don’t hold your breath.

          7. “Power tools” is effectively defined as “power tools that men use.” A handheld mixer is as much a power tool as a drill. Not sure how that usage could be viewed as anything but sexist.

          8. “Tool” is like “machine” in that they both have broadly general and more common specific meanings. A wedge is a simple machine, but nobody would say “I used a machine to split those logs” if they’d been swinging a maul.

            Context is important. “Knitting needles are essential tools for making a sweater” makes perfect sense, but it would be pointlessly ambiguous to refer to the thing where yarn and needles are kept as a “tool bag.”

            Objecting to a mixer not being called a power tool is based on the internalized sexism that says that the power tool designation is some superior elevated much cooler category to be aspired to by mixers.

            You might as well object to whisks not being called power tools because it suggests that women’s arms do not provide any power.

          9. Context is important. “Knitting needles are essential tools for making a sweater” makes perfect sense, but it would be pointlessly ambiguous to refer to the thing where yarn and needles are kept as a “tool bag.”

            It would be just as ambiguous to call a bag with hammers and screwdrivers a tool bag, if the term ‘tool’ hadn’t been hijacked to mean “Important things that men use.”

          10. in the future what should i call the set of tools that people commonly refer to as power tools?

            Electric lawncare or carpentry tools.

          11. :-o
            joking aside, i encourage my wife to use our  gender nonspecific powered carpentry/ metalworking /  general home maintenance tools all the time (i miss the good ol days when i could just call them power tools) she just prefers that i do that stuff

          12. We just pay the neighbor’s kid to mow the lawn. We don’t have any kids of our own (yet) to fob off child labor onto :-)

      2.  When I do it, I like to wear my bandana in the style of the Gumby character from Monty Python.

      3.  I don’t get the bandana.  My mom used to wear hers when it was cleaning time, and we all knew that you don’t fuck with the bandana, you get to work and don’t get out of line.

        Later, and to my amazement, my wife somehow manifested a bandana cleaning avatar as well.  I also do not fuck with the bandana in this case.

        But what is it about cleaning that makes people (and 2 of the main women in my life) feel that they need a colourful bandana?  I clean all the time without headgear of any sort, and it seems to come out alright.

        1. Once upon a time, it was to keep the hairdo safe.  Nowadays, I have no explanation for it.

        2. I’ve never tried the bandana thing, but am now considering it. Maybe the logic is to keep the worst of the dirt/dust/whatever out of your hair? I associate bandanas with full-on housecleaning, and with the 1950s/1960s housewife, and at that time you were dealing with a lot of salon-set hair.

          1.  Considering how horrible it has to get before I consider serious cleaning, I’d be tempted to wear it as a dust-mask. Especially when cleaning under beds, etc.

        3. It keeps your hair up, out of your face, and the sweat from getting in your hair and getting it all wet and gross.  Which is really a problem whether you have long or short hair for a woman.  (Also prevents dust mites or whatever you blow up in the air while cleaning from getting in your hair.)

        4. When I wore it I had hair down below my shoulders that also fell into my eyes whenever I bent over. So it was just there for convenience. I could have just as easily tied my hair back, or worn a shower cap. I just kind of dug the look of the bandana. And I always had a thought that if I needed to dust I could just whip it off and use it.

          Also Johnny Depp briefly made it fashionable, or at least he made it seem that way, on 21 Jump Street. Not that I ever watched it…

      1. The New Republic tried to explore a topic and didn’t provide any real insights? Surprise surprise!

      1. cleaning the house is definitely more likely to get you ‘laid’ than spraying axe all over your body

        unless your partner is into dirty dirty dirty living

    2. Marketing isn’t for users, it’s for buyers (I suppose toys are the main exception…).

      Not to say you don’t also buy cleaning supplies, but just wanted to point it out.

  2. Yesterday at the supermarket an announcement was broadcast over the speakers that in all seriousness declared dust motes to be “the worst nightmare of any proper housewife”. I reiterated the statement twice in a stern voice to the empty aisle: “dust motes are the worst nightmare of any proper housewife”; then I left the warp zone.

  3. How quaint! You’d never wear your vintage-style chambray workshirt to do, you know, actual work these days. Those things are expensive, wouldn’t want to get them dirty.

  4. I was reading yesterday that 45 percent of households in the U.S. are single.  Last year I read a report that said single parent households (mostly women)had overtaken the percentage of two-parent households.  I’m guessing these are the demographics Swiffer is targeting — women who are working, raising their children, and have very little time for cleaning the floors … much like Rosie.  And not necessarily women who want to be in the jobs they’re working, but who must work to pay the bills and support their kids … much like Rosie.  The image was patriotic; the reality for women during WWII had little to do with flag-waving and was about cold. hard cash, working jobs that paid women better than jobs they traditionally held. 

    While there were women who resented the hell out of being let go from those good paying jobs and replaced by a man; there were also women who were happy to return home and apply themselves to being full-time moms and housewives. 

    One other thing comes to mind looking at that image:  Swiffer is a poor product for cleaning a floor.  It’s a wet wipe on a stick, with a little scrubber strip for the sticky areas.  The only way to truly get a floor clean is with two buckets, floor cleaner, clean rags and elbow grease while on your hands and knees.  It’s a good time to clean the woodwork as well.  Even several Swiffer wipes applied to a floor is going to just push some of the dirt around and deposit it someplace else.  Swiffer buys peace of mind for busy women.

    1. Even worse, it’s a wet wipe with stronger chemicals than necessary.

      Hot water and a little Murphy’s Oil soap cleans better with virtually no chemical residue left behind.

      1. Good ole Murphs, I loved it years, but abandoned it for Simple Green by the gallon.  Maybe I’ll pick up some Murphy’s this week and give it another go.

    2.  I use the ‘kick bucket of soapy water over, then suck it up with a shop-vac’ method.

  5. “Won’t somebody PLEASE please think of the women.?!?!?”

    I do think the tone taken by the article and by the commenters is sadly a bit disrespectful for the millions of women who have CHOSEN to be stay at home wives or mothers, or for those who simply have some cleaning to do.

    The add is not urging all women to stay at home, it isn’t supporting the continuation of the glass ceiling in the workplace. It isn’t -in its tongue-in-cheek depiction of a women about to clean the hell out of her floors- saying that women are only good for that. It isn’t- in its silence on the matter of the hiring practice of america’s boardrooms- saying that women are silly little cleaning and birthing machines.

    1. Although I´m probably going to catch flak for it, I have to say that while the concept of a stay at home mother (or father) makes perfect sense to me, choosing to be a stay at home wife (or husband) is just being lazy i.m.o.

        1. I´m guessing you haven´t read my post observantly, because I´m clearly stating that being a stay at home mother or father makes perfect sense to me.

          A stay at home wife or husband would be that but without children. You make the distinction yourself in your initial post.

    2. And people make CHOICES in a cultural/ social/ political/ economic vacuum? That choice doesn’t have anything to do with the economics of women making less money for the same job?

      1. Or that day care costs will eat up the entirety of the smaller paycheck, regardless of which parent earns it?

        Almost no one chooses to be a houseparent anymore, they’re press-ganged into it by a shit economy.

  6. Sadly, this does not actually piss on the legacy of Rosie The Riveter. The icon has nothing to do with feminism – it was created by the state to get women on board with working men’s jobs while the men were at war.
    The same women were forced to give up those jobs as soon as the men came back.

    Swiffer isn’t doing anything new here…

  7. Dear B____ & D_____:

    Your 7.2v D_________ hand-held vacuum cleaner sucks. I mean it sucks because it doesn’t actually suck. It maybe sucks a little bit when fully charged but not enough to say it sucks, which really sucks. A baby at its mother’s breast sucks stronger than the D_________. This plastic would-be little sucker just kind of nuzzles and whines. It blows more air out of its tiny side vents than it sucks in. So it doesn’t deserve to be called a vacuum at all because instead of sucking it blows, which is the reason it sucks, which it doesn’t, and why I am tossing it in the trash.

    But advertising and selling a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t suck is what really blows. 

    Just saying. 

    Sincerely Yours,


    cc: teh inte


  8. So a work shirt and a bandana makes her Rosie the Riveter? Because that’s not Rosie’s pose – Rosie was rolling up her sleeves with a fist raised, while this gal just looks stern. Fail.

    1. A blue work shirt, a red spotted bandana, similar lipstick colouring, similar lines on the eyebrows. 

      I’d say the intention was pretty fucking obvious.

      1. A work shirt and bandana is pretty much a standard outfit for any ad selling cleaning products – and red lipstick is just plain standard makeup. And her pose is nothing like Rosie’s. But if you want to make an issue out of nothing, I guess it’ll work.

        1. The company itself is admitting the mistake.

          Once again: the exact same coloured shirt, the exact same coloured bandana with the same white polka dots.

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