“In a Parallel Universe” shows what it would look like if we treated men how we’ve always treated women
Since pretty much the dawn of time, women have gotten the short end of the stick. From workplace harassment to pay gaps to outright assault, the world is having a reckoning right now with all the shit women have been putting up with forever, and it’s beautiful.
Eli Rezkallah, a 31-year-old visual artist/photographer from Beirut, Lebanon, is adding his voice to the movement. Rezkallah noticed that a lot of vintage ads are really sexist, and then saw a link between the way those ads portray women, and the way some people view women even today.
So Rezkallah recreated some of the most sexist of those ads, only he reversed the gender roles and put men into the places women historically occupied. Like not being able to open a damn ketchup bottle.
“Last Thanksgiving, I was visiting my family in New Jersey and I overheard my uncles talk about how women are better off cooking, taking care of the kitchen, and fulfilling ‘their womanly duties,'” Rezkallah wrote on his website. “Although I know that not all men like my uncles think that way I was surprised to learn that some still do, it’s also true that those ads were in the 50s 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.”
There’s this one, that tries to hawk dish detergent that will help them fulfill their womanly (and now manly) duty of washing every dish ever used by anyone:
This one, that’s really skeevy and objectifying:
And this one, that suggests women (and now men) are nothing more than attractive ornaments you should be using to dress up your house.
These reimagined ads are especially poignant these days. Any men looking at these and feeling any kind of negative emotions? Anything from discomfort all the way up to outright rage? Welcome to what it’s felt like to be a woman forever.
One of the great things about these ads is how incredibly detailed they are, like this one, where the gender roles are reversed but the outfits are basically the same:
They play up old tropes, like how women (and now men) aren’t allowed out of the kitchen:
Come on, dudes — you know you’d love a Christmas present that’s actually a passive aggressive, not-so-subtle cue to do more housework, like this ad suggests:
What’s really awesome about Rezkallah’s series is that it gets people thinking about how utterly ridiculous these gender roles have always been.
“I’m extremely happy that the message was very well received online and understood by a vast audience. My close family and friends are proud and supportive as they share the same values as mine and strongly believe in the message behind the campaign,” he told Scary Mommy. “I hope 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.”
You can see these and more of Rezkallah’s work on Instagram.