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Why Betsy Hart hates this TV commercial

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Updated: April 26, 2012 12:43PM



You’ve probably seen the Citi credit-card commercial that has generated a lot of buzz.

It opens with a woman saying, “My boyfriend and I were going on vacation.” She appears to be in a clothing store and needs to get a few accessories. With her Citi card, of course. Then the scene changes. She picks out “a new belt” (it’s a rock-climbing harness) and “some nylons” (rock-climbing ropes). “And what girl wouldn’t need new shoes?” she asks. (For rock-climbing, of course.)

Then we watch as she hoists herself up to the tiny top of a huge rock formation we can’t believe is real, with her guy following. Natch. As we get dizzy watching her triumphantly stand on the little precipice, we hear her voiceover again: “We talked about getting a diamond. But with all the ‘thank you’ points I’ve been earning, I flew us to the rock I really had in mind.” In the background, we hear the lyrics “Somebody left the gate open” chime in. (From “Into the Wild” by LP.)

The ad has generated buzz, with many folks not believing what they are seeing. But, it turns out the actors are real rock climbers, climbing a real rock formation near Moab, Utah. It’s all very glorious.

I can’t stand the ad.

In fact, it just about has me climbing the walls!

This is a tough girl who eschews those silly feminine trappings of fashion for real power — high heels for high rocks. And that rock on the third finger of the left hand? Who needs it? Especially when she has all those handy-dandy “thank you” points instead.

Well, let me offer this: Her Citi “thank you” points are not going to keep her warm at night. And they are not going to help her with the baby if she gets pregnant by the boyfriend she doesn’t think she needs to marry. Or, rather, who doesn’t think he needs to marry her. So what’s to keep him from finding a younger, more attractive rock-climber?

And “Somebody left the gate open”? I guess the gate was closed when a rock meant marriage, not hiking.

I know, it’s just an ad.
But it reflects a culture in which girls are more and more “supposed” to be tough, independent, aggressively sexual and with no need for men or marriage. In fact, that’s all seen as constraining.

“I flew us to the rock I really had in mind.” Real women create their own destiny, with their own money, and they don’t need to consult anyone. Not even someone they might condescend to love.

I am woman; hear me roar.

Few real women actually think like this, of course. They don’t want to man up themselves; they want the men they love to man up. And whatever we want in our professional lives, most women want marriage, and children, and a man who will pursue them and, in some tangible way, care for them. That’s how we are built.

That’s why this commercial, and the culture it represents, is so pathetic. It’s not that it depicts reality. It’s that it’s depicting a “reality” that isn’t real at all.

Sadly, women aren’t empowered by this attempt at social engineering. Marriage rates are plummeting, newspaper articles and books ask, “Where have all the good men gone?” and, today, a majority of babies born to women under 30 are being born to single moms. That means a high probability of poor social outcomes for those kids, as well as much higher poverty and depression rates for those single moms as compared to their married sisters. And that’s just for starters.

Yes, I want my own daughters to rise to the tops of their professions. If they want to get to the top of precarious rock formations, too, that’s great. I hope they tell me about it when they are back down safely.

But you can bet I’m also clear that, of course, real-life women want men, and marriage and family. And so my daughters had better be darn tough. Because increasingly in our culture, it takes a strong woman to admit just that.

Scripps Howard
News Service



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