Once upon a time, it was considered perfectly acceptable for men to spank women, especially if the woman being spanked was that man’s wife.
This Chase and Sanborn Coffee ad is really advertising their form of a stay fresh lid that will keep their coffee ever so fresh. Rather than speak of the benefits of having fresher coffee, they threaten “woe be unto you” and visually show how perfectly coifed wives will be spanked by their husbands if their coffee is “flat or stale.” No matter how much one might adore their cup of joe, we do now wonder how the threat of bodily harm would inspire a person to choose one coffee brand over another. This vintage ad demonstrates the level of acceptance that society felt overall towards men who spank their wives and of spousal abuse in general, not so very long ago.
Chase and Sanborn were, by no means the only company using the threat of a spanking to appeal to their buyers. Women were often viewed as simple and childlike; hence the manly job of discipline was applied to a naughty wife. Now, we would look at the threat of bodily harm as domestic abuse and a woman who got beaten over stale coffee would be encouraged to find help. However, this understanding of domestic abuse is relatively new to our society in general. It was only after insurance companies began raising the rates for police departments that the domestic disturbance calls began to get real attention. It wasn’t that women were not chattel, or spousal abuse was bad, it was that the insurance rates demanded that the police began to pay attention; the trickle down effect was that viewing women as childlike and spank-able was not acceptable. Advertising began to appeal to a stronger women who is seen as in control and making her own choices to buy products based on her needs. The complete opposite of the spanked wife is the controlling dominatrix who can be seen strutting the fashion cat walks and here, advertising in this 2009 Yves Saint Laurent ad:We’ve come a long way, baby…or have we?