German supermarket chain Edeka slammed over ‘sexist’ Mother’s Day video

Supermarket giant Edeka is facing a wave of social media indignation over a Mother's Day online video clip ridiculing fathers' parenting skills, with both men and women calling the film "sexist".

German supermarket chain Edeka slammed over 'sexist' Mother's Day video
A branch of Edeka in Cologne. Photo: DPA

On Twitter #EdekaBoycott became the top trending topic in Germany on Wednesday amid anger over the clip, which showed fathers failing badly in a range of parenting tasks.

The company told news agency DPA that “we didn't want to portray fathers badly but, in a somewhat exaggerated and humorous way, say thank you to all mothers on Mother's Day”.

Mother's Day takes place in Germany on Sunday, May 12th.

In the clip, one sequence shows a dad trying to comb his daughter's knotted hair as she grimaces in pain, another shows a clumsy man splattered by an open-topped kitchen blender.

The short black-and-white film ends with the message “Thank you, mama, for not being papa”.

Since it was posted on YouTube on Sunday, the ad has exceeded a million views, with thumbs-down “dislikes” fastly outnumbering likes.

“This advertisement is sickeningly sexist and hateful,” charged Twitter user DerAltePoet, who pledged never to return to an Edeka store.

Sharing the sentiment, @Freylis wrote that this was “the most disgusting, man-hating spot I've ever seen”.

NassinMoruk argued that “if one were to make fun of mothers to the same extent, the outcry (of feminists) would be huge”.

Female writers meanwhile charged that the premise of the Mother's Day clip was sexist, and user Conny wrote that “gay couples must be delighted about this homophobic spot!”

Some users took a contrarian view and suggested that thin-skinned fathers “buy their handkerchiefs” elsewhere to dry their tears.

Some speculated, meanwhile, that all publicity is good publicity.

“Fathers are offended, feminists see an attack on women,” wrote @kleinerCoyote. “And somewhere a marketing department is having the last laugh.”

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His and hers ‘sexist sausages’ cause a storm

Another entry for the "Only in Germany" department: Edeka supermarkets are selling men's and women's sausages. The gents' meaty treats are described as "hearty, strongly-spiced," while the ladies' sausages are "lean."

His and hers 'sexist sausages' cause a storm
Photo: Susanne Enz

In a marketing move ignored by the German press – but described in a blog post from feminist journalist and political scientist Antje Schrupp – the women’s sausages were made half the size of their masculine counterparts, and are significantly more expensive.

To further catch the eye of male and female sausage-lovers respectively, the packaging is also gender- if not particularly sausage- appropriate.

The male sausage features an alluringly-clad woman – in front of a flaming background – while lady shoppers are being drawn to part with their hard-earned cash by a topless gentleman with excellent muscle tone in front of a serene, cloudy background.

In her blog post, Schrupp quoted a long letter of complaint sent to the Edeka Group by journalist Susanne Enz, outraged by what she called “dull sexism.”

The sausages’ marketing, she said, implied that “men eat a lot and heartily, while women mainly want to be thin… Women are there to please, while men are allowed to enjoy.”

“Of course it’s not the end of the world, it’s just a sausage,” her letter continued.

“Of course you can react to it as if it’s just a joke, and presumably most sausage-buyers will do that. But your choice of name and accompanying advertising is still the expression and promotion of a – in the best case – thoughtless normative sexism, which gives each gender a ‘right’ role to play, with a built-in hierarchy.”

“And that affects the perceptions of people, even in small, seemingly trivial, playful contexts, and stands stubbornly in the way of gender equality.”

“I found the whole thing really quite unbearable, and I showed it to my partner, and she got really angry,” Enz told The Local in an email.

“So I said to myself, if these sausage-sexists make my partner so angry, I can’t just let it go! I wanted to at least tell them my opinion.”

“I think it’s important to talk about everyday sexism and its consequences in as level-headed a way as possible if you want to raise sensibilities to it in broader society,” she added.

“Otherwise the criticism isn’t taken seriously.”

“It’s a general problem,” Schrupp told The Local. “I’ve seen women’s and men’s mustard as well. Often for children, of course.”

Two different Edeka representatives responded to Enz’s letter, but refused to address her central point: one would only “what he understood of her letter,” – the question of why the ladies sausages were more expensive, (because they contain “particularly lean meat, high-quality vegetables” all packed in an “especially delicate skin”).

The other said the matter had been referred to “the responsible regional official.”

The Local/bk