It’s no secret that the advertisements of yesteryear were anything but enlightened toward women.
The way ad men in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s saw it, the perfect housewife would be a literal doormat who would willingly receive a spanking should she dare buy stale coffee. But if she brings her man breakfast in bed on her knees, she’ll get that vacuum cleaner she’s always wanted for Christmas.
While advertisements today featuring women aren’t nearly as egregious with its misogyny, there’s still an imbalance of representation. According to research from The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and J. Walter Thompson New York, only one in four women portrayed in ads from 2006 to 2016 had jobs. Not to mention women were 48% more likely to be shown in the kitchen. It’s a persistent problem that photographer Eli Rezkallah witnessed firsthand and that compelled him to create his series In a Parallel Universe.
“Last Thanksgiving, I overheard my uncles talk about how women are better off cooking, taking care of the kitchen, and fulfilling ‘their womanly duties,'” Rezkallah says on his site. “Although I know that not all men like my uncles think that way, I was surprised to learn that some still do, so I went on to imagine a parallel universe, where roles are inverted and men are given a taste of their own sexist poison.”
In a Parallel Universe takes vintage, sexist ads and flips the gender roles. It’s a simple idea but effective nonetheless–and one that hopefully will continue to push for better representation for women in such an influential medium.