Million dollar mother guilt

I don’t watch a lot of commercial television because it’s just so fucking annoying, but since I’m sick on the couch and my eyes are too scritchy to read (hunched and squinty as I type), I thought I’d brave daytime tv. And then I saw this:

Actually, that’s an extended version of the ad I saw, but youtube didn’t have it and I couldn’t be arsed looking any further because I’m sick. Again. I swear I’ve picked up every cold this year. I am a snot slut.

Anyway, back to the ad. On the one hand, it’s saying that being a full-time parent is valuable work and therefore requires insurance – and hey, we just happen to have an insurance product for you, what a coincidence. On the other hand, it’s only directed at women. What about full-time parents who are male? What about Suncorp (the company behind it) recognising that pitching a product about housework at women is a little bit, you know, fucking sexist.

And then there’s this:

You can claim a payment if you get sick or are injured and can’t do any two or more of the following household tasks for more than 14 consecutive days:

Cooking and preparing meals using basic ingredients and kitchen appliances.
Cleaning the house, including using a vacuum cleaner and mop.
Washing and drying clothes using a washing machine and outdoor washing line.
Shopping for groceries including fruit and vegetables, laundry items and household cleaning products.
Looking after children under the age of 12 (if you do this as part of your everyday activities at home), including bathing, dressing, feeding and taking to school.

How many times have you been unable to do those things for two whole weeks? I was incredibly sick with the flu in 1998 and had two weeks off work, but apart from a few days that I lost hallucinating from fever, I was still able to feed myself. And having this policy won’t make dinner for the kids when you can’t get out of bed – you get the money after you’ve been sick or injured for two weeks – so you’d still have to call a friend or relative to help out. Parents with partners (sounds like a support group) have it easier (generalisation alert).

It strikes me as being an incredibly unnecessary product, because if you can afford $45 a month on insurance then you probably have health insurance and really, your house isn’t going to fall apart if you don’t vacuum it for two weeks. Hell, ManFriend and I certainly don’t vacuum that often.

So this product is about middle-class mother guilt:

It means you can now be covered for short term illness and injury that stops you doing everyday household tasks like shopping and caring for your kids.

Bad mother. Bad bad bad.

Update: Since I’m pointing out really shit ads, I just saw this offensive piece of shit:

Ooh, my lady brain can only handle tv and gossip mags. And my hands have wrinkles when they’re wet. OHNOES!

35 responses to “Million dollar mother guilt

  1. Yo – havent disagreed with much (if anything) here but will throw my hat into this ring. And before i go on, yes i do work for an insurance company, but not for the lot that sell this, they are my competitors. /disclaimer

    Whilst I agree that the ad is sexist to a point, in that blokes like me do do there fair share of housework, given that the vast majority of at home childcare is still done by women, wouldnt it make sense to pitch your product at the overwhelming majority of the market demographic?

    “So this product is about middle-class mother guilt”
    Actually I think its groundbreaking as it recognises the role a stay-at-home anyone makes! Previously you could only get this style of insurance (income protection, disability income) if you were working for over 30 hours a fortnight in a paid occupation. Given Australia’s crippling underinsurance problem, I would think that recognising this and creating a product for it would be saying “goodonya! we value and recognise the dependency your family have on you”

    I think the ad paints the picture of the job as a stay-at-home anyone pretty well – loads of stuff going on and trying to use as many hats as possible to get your family through the each day! I dont even think that the tone is poor!

    Disagreement! A first for everything!

    • Ah, but it’s actually a product for a full-time parent. On the application form you can select male or female. So would it really be that difficult to put a man in the ad too?

      • Probably not – but the creative types at the Ad agency would say that it detracts from the core message to the key demographic!

  2. Kim
    as a stay at home dad I appreciate what Phatmaniac is saying here, (except for the bit about “under insurance” 🙄 ) and to be honest he is right when probably more than 19 out of twenty full time child carers are women why on earth would you pitch an ad at both men and women? It would be the worst sort of tokenism. That said it would probably serve you better to self insure by having some savings to pay for the services that you might need should you fall ill.

    • Ah, but it’s not a gender-specific product. You can get the insurance if you’re female or male, so why pretend that only women are primary care-givers?

      My objection is to the ad. I think the product is rather rubbish, but the ad presents childcare and housework as something only women do.

    • YetAnotherMatt

      Let’s flip that. When probably less that one in twenty full time child carers are men, why on earth would you pitch an ad at both men and women?

      To get their money.

      Are you suggesting that by presenting the ad to both men and women, less people will purchase the product?

      TL;DR Q) Why? A) Why not?

  3. i was willing to give Fisher & Paykel the benefit of the doubt until they got to the washing machine. because a self-cleaning oven and a higher up dishwasher = awesome. not that i actually have a dishwasher or use the oven above twice a year. but still, theoretically awesome. straight out telling us that our lady brains just aren’t made to deal with how much water or detergent to use in the washing machine? not awesome.

    • Whilst I agree that self cleaning ovens and dishwasher draws are awesome, “lady humour” that assumes we would choose these appliances because Gosh, we just couldn’t bare to chip a perfectly manicured fingernail, or that we skipped one too many yoga classes (because yoga is totes only for the ladies, gotta keep supple for the men folk don’t we?) is just tacky and ridiculous and rather than making me want to purchase appliances, they make me want slap someone upside of the head with a brick.

  4. Hi there, before I continue, I too have to disclose that I work for a financial services company (not Suncorp) – but I’ve got some general points:

    1) This particular cover is available for men too, but I think you’ve already pointed that out. Male and female rates are built into the product. Interestingly enough, the EU have just passed legislation that makes discrimination based on sex (male/female) illegal when determining pricing for insurance products – including general insurance too – eg car insurance. Effective sometime in 2012. This is causing a massive industry shake up.

    2) You need a GP/Dr to say you can’t do two or more of those things listed and getting a claim processed and paid after two weeks is pretty ‘quick’ for a ‘direct’ to market style of product. True.

    3) Health insurance won’t cover bills that aren’t health related. You can spend the money however you like when you claim on these income products. Premiums are generally tax deductable.

    But yes, I agree, it’s *definitely* middle class. I agree with Phatmaniac in saying that I think it’s a message saying that the ‘carer’ at home is an important and valuable contributer to the household. Not just the ‘breadwinner’. Yes, those roles of who fulfils ‘breadwinner’ and ‘carer’ are not based on male/female anymore, but Suncorp have gone for an angle, and it’s seemingly working for them. However offensive and assumptive it might be.

    Responding to Phatmaniac, apparently the underinsurance problem isn’t so much a problem on the whole; the ‘gap’ being closed by increased cover options under super and by products like this one above (RiceWarner: Undersinurance Report July 2011) But…the income cover under super is only accessible and relevant whilst you’re working etc which is how products like this MDW, have been developed.

    NWN – Have you seen the ‘Priceline Protects’ tv insurance advert? I think it’s on YouTube. That makes mothering look f$@king terrifying!

  5. I saw an ad the other day for some childrens toys, I cant remeber the brand, or much of the ad, except that one of the items was a play kitchen and there was possibly a shop front/check out thingey as well. It wasn’t pink, and they had both a little boy and a little girl playing at it. I was stoked.
    I can’t watch the ads you have posted here, but I am imagining eye stabbiness.

    • Did you talk to Lexy yesterday? Four aisles of toys for boys, and all fun stuff in different colours, plastic hammers, plastic mobiles, lego. Two for girls, and all pink and houseworky.

      • No I didn’t, but that sounds about right (in a punch someone in the face kind of way). Being a middle class lefty with no children I only shop for children’s presents at Shorties and the Nature’s Child shop in Newtown…

  6. I hate anything to do with the insurance companies these days. (apologies to phatmaniac) From MSM pieces about women being poor mothers for not having life insurance to this kind of insurance that really doesn’t make sense. Like you said money won’t make dinner for the kids, but you know, if you can’t dress yourself and do all those other little tasks, how on earth do they expect you to jump through the hoops of lodging the claim in the first place?

    • I really do feel that this product is pretty useless. The only reason Suncorp is recognising that being a full-time parent is an important job is so they can make money from it. Where phatmaniac sees ground-breaking, I see a cynical money-making exercise. But maybe that’s just because, as a woman, I am sick to bloody death of seeing ads for cleaning products that only feature women; ads for food for kids that only feature “mums”; and the few ads that do show men in a domestic setting always pretend they are useless, so therefore shouldn’t be trusted with doing housework and childcare.

      • The only reason Suncorp is recognising that being a full-time parent is an important job is so they can make money from it.
        Well, yeah. They’re a business.

        I’m also sick of the bias in cleaning products ads, food ads etc, and I don’t love the Suncorp ad at all… however, as someone who worked in the insurance industry for many years, I’m delighted to see ANY ad that encourages women to take out insurance. Insurance is so male-targetted, like men are the only ones whose lives are of any value. Tell that to the widowed men who are struggling to look after their kids and can’t pay for any assistance because they both thought there was no point getting life insurance for his wife when she wasn’t working. I can’t tell you how many times I saw that kind of thing.

        • I just have to say, when it comes to life insurance for me as the non-working partner (and my husband), we don’t have it. Not because we think I am not WORTH insuring, but because we simply can’t afford it. We already pay a small fortune for health, car, home and contents insurance. Stretching our single income to include yet more insurance just isn’t going to work for us at present.

          • On our (relatively crappy) single income we can’t even afford health insurance!

            • I keep seeing articles that blame women for being underinsured of late. It’s quite tiresome really. That we are seen to either not value our lives or that we’re doing our children harm by not valuing our lives enough to insure them with money we simply don’t have.
              And with regards to health insurance I am lucky because I only have to have a single parent family policy because my husband is covered by the army- so I am paying slightly less than I would otherwise–and here’s the thing, we spend all this money on health insurance, yet we hardly ever make claims. I use it for optical- four of us wear glasses. I use it for podiatry. My daughter and I both have feet deformities. I occasionally use it for dental. And I use it for my son to see his opthamologist because as a public patient, the waiting list is too long when all I need is a letter for his occularist that states, yes the child needs a new eye made. I average around six claims every two years. In the 14 years we have had our policy, I have never once had to use my hospital cover. Sometimes it feels like a real drain on the wallet for very little return.

  7. Kinda agree with phatmaniac ana ian on this. Adverts are marketed at key demographics for maximum affect, more women then men are stay at home mums and carers so it makes sense. Agree tho that its a pretty useless product but so are scented candles and people still insist on buying me them for Xmas.

    HOWEVER, targeting does not need to be insulting or patronsing. The f& p ad was awful. It was just like a 1950s mad men ad but with 2011 graphics. Hideous. Also this one has less grounds to say it is targeting a key (female) demographic. Everyone uses a dishwasher etc.

    • I’m standing by my original feeling about this ad – which maybe I didn’t make clear in my post – which is that this product is available to men and women, but only advertised to women.

  8. I hope your disappearance means your thesis has hit full steam ahead.
    Have you seen these hats, at Bluemilk’s place?
    http://bluemilk.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/how-to-do-discrete-breastfeeding/

  9. orlando: I really did laugh out loud at those hats. That’s the most charming middle finger gesture I’ve seen for ages.
    rhiannonsaxon: since you mentioned etsy… http://www.regretsy.com/2011/07/07/stop-it/

    nips, hope you feel better soon.

  10. Those ads infuriate me! Apart from only targeting women what shits me about the whole thing is why the FUCK can’t the husband/father pick up the slack for the few weeks while the ‘million dollar woman’ is injured?? Parents who work somehow manage to get the chores done. Maybe dad shouldn’t have to bother himself with all that womans work.

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