You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby -- By: Mary A. Kassian
JBMW 14:2 (Fall 2009) p. 13
You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby1
Author and Women’s Ministry Consultant
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
In the late 1960s, the Morris Tobacco Company introduced Virginia Slims as a “women’s only” cigarette, launching it with the now well-known slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” The print ads were marked by staged, old-fashioned, black-and-white photos picturing the miserable state of women in the 1900s, prior to the first women’s movement, juxtaposed against full-color photos of far happier, modern women demonstrating their emancipation from male dominance . . . by smoking Virginia Slims.
In one such ad, three small black-and-white scenes depict an arrogant, overweight husband impatiently ringing a bell, demanding that his servile wife respond to his every need. The caption reads, “With this ring, I thee wed. Ring for supper. Ring for paper. Ring for slippers.” The happy, modern, Virginia Slims woman pictured in the forefront rejects the traditional male-defined institution of marriage. Man will not be the head of her home. “You’ve come a long way, baby!”
The caption of another ad announces, “Back then, education taught men to run the world and women to run the house.” It shows bored women sitting at old-fashioned desks learning about home economics. The blackboard proclaims that there will be a laundry quiz on Tuesday, and that their homework consists of several cooking and cleaning assignments. The Virginia Slims woman on the adjoining page stands in marked contrast to this outdated concept of female domesticity. She is enlightened. She knows that running a house and looking after children is a low-class, unfulfilling, demeaning job, unsuitable for someone with a university education. She’s determined to get out of the house and do something really important—like run the world! “You’ve come a long way, baby!”
The old-fashioned, black-and-white scene of a third ad depicts several women working hard at typewriters and desks behind their male boss, who thumbs his lapels and takes all the credit for their efforts. The caption reads, “Virginia Slims looks back upon the self-made man (and all the women who made him possible).” The smug Virginia Slims woman in the foreground holds the lapels of her business suit in the same manner as the boastful male boss. But there’s no one in the background propping her up. She’s a self-made woman. She makes herself possible! “You’ve come a long way, baby!”
A final ad features a large, colorless photo of two policemen forcibly removing a woman from a public beach for wearing an immodest bathing suit. The woman ...
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