Recreating Vintage Ads to Reverse Gender Roles

Recreating Vintage Ads to Reverse Gender Roles

What happens when a visual artist overhears his uncles discussing how women "are better off cooking, taking care of the kitchen, and fulfilling their 'womanly duties?'" Eli Rezkallah, who's a photographer and a visual artist currently residing in Beirut, came up with the idea of creating a controversial set of photographs that reverse the traditional gender roles, that had been so strongly embedded within our society through advertisement during the twentieth century.

Even though today our roles and genders themselves are becoming more fluid, it came as a surprise to Rezkallah that some men still hold onto these gender role perceptions today. The adverts that were recreated in his "In a Parallel Universe" project, were placed side by side with actual pre-existing campaigns that had been used in advertisements during 1950's, but this time gender roles had been swapped. 

Reversed gender roles on a vintage advert

Reversed gender roles on a vintage advert

Those ads were in the 50's and some people perceive them as vintage; it felt at that moment that their essence is still present in the folds of today's modern social fabric, so I went on to imagine a parallel universe, where roles are inverted and men are given a taste of their own sexist poison.

Even though we all know that there are plenty of men and women who are putting conscious effort in reducing the gap of disparities women may endure due to their gender alone, this project hits at the very core of those old-fashioned beliefs that the role of a woman is a subordinate one.

Reversing gender roles for a vintage advert
Reversed gender roles on a vintage advert

Reversed roles on a sexist vintage advert

A side by side adverts of a man and a woman in the kitchen

Interestingly, although the topic is a controversial one, Rezkallah has received an influx of positive responses from people online. Even people close to him "are proud and supportive as they share the same values as [his] and strongly believe in the message behind the campaign". 

There are many strong messages the viewer can take away from this project, but Rezkallah hopes "that people who are stuck in stereotypical gender roles imposed by patriarchal societies would be able to visually see the cracks in the limitation that those roles carry through this project."

Images used with permission of Eli Rezkallah, produced by Plastik Studios 2018.

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31 Comments

Jim Bolen's picture

Yep, I would expect a supporter of a massive misogynist to have a reaction like yours.

Jim Bolen's picture

Well, I've never met a woman named John.

Maybe the purpose to this is to promote antigender attitudes, but I see nothing wrong with traditional gender rolls. The message is Very gay..

Anonymous's picture

That the photographer is from a region with high gender inequality is all the more reason for him to highlight negative gender roles.

Anonymous's picture

An artist is influenced by the society he lives in.

Anonymous's picture

As do I. What type of pointless response is that?

Anonymous's picture

You aren’t doing much thinking at all here and you’re wasting time with nonsense.

I’m out to go photograph, I recommend you do something similarly constructive. Goodbye.

Anonymous's picture

You’re cute with the downvotes; like a petulant child.

OK, out to do something worthwhile with my remaining years.

Anonymous's picture

Oh, Bob found a lackey.

Anonymous's picture

Just got back from a great day photographing. Did you take my recommendation and go shoot?

Anonymous's picture

I haven’t developed them yet. Bless your heart with that sarcasm attempt.

And is there a reason you’re budding in to this conversation?

Anonymous's picture

Ha! OK I’ll take your word that it was genuine.

You’re certainly persistent. I’ll give you that.

Anonymous's picture

Huh?

Anonymous's picture

No I didnt

Anonymous's picture

I forgot that you have very poor reading comprehension skills, and only see what you want to see.

Anonymous's picture

Oh please, “just” as in within an hour or two. I was checking up on my recommendation. Thought that would be the proper thing to do.

another great useless comment from the almighty bob brady....

controversy aside, I wouldn’t mind the role switch.

I wish I could be a home maker. :'(

Does it give you the willies ?

Gabrielle Colton's picture

I love this so much, it's not anti male, anyone who says it is is clsiming the originals were anti female ???

The originals may not have been anti-female in their day, but they are now. Reversing the roles then may not have been anti-male, but doing it now is.

I think it's a great project. I had a 24 year career in advertising and know all these old ads, and it was interesting to see them with the gender roles reversed.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Great idea, they should do a project on switching races...

There are 2 ads of the entire bunch that are offensive (if you get offended), the rest are pretty tongue in cheek.
The 'Van Huesen' ad is laughably bad, and the 'Hardee's' ad would never fly today either, but this over zealous sentiment towards a minority viewpoint is lost on most level headed people I think.

The photography is really nice though, great job emulating the originals.

Studio 403's picture

I would suggest the motivation for this segment was to find out if anyone is paying any attention to this site....Good Marketing Guys. Chaos sells!

Anete Lusina's picture

Guys AND girls, right? ;)

Thomas Nicholas's picture

But why would she stay with him?

Dennis Murphy's picture

I'm sure that coming from Beirut, it must seem like the male world still thinks like this. But in the West, he's about 40 years too late to point this out. We've moved on a long time ago. But maybe he's targeting the nations that actually need this message? (Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan etc)

Simon Patterson's picture

Interesting that the man in many of the modern photos has been feminised with stereotypically female lipstick/makeup, clothing or pose.

To me, this largely negates the potential impact of the images, because it serves to reinforce the old feminine-means-subservient stereotype (and, by implication, masculine-means-dominant stereotype) rather than resist the old stereotypes.

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