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“I ain’t no damsel in distress and I don’t need to be rescued so put me down, punk.” -Ani Difranco
Have you seen this new video from Coca-Cola? They call it an “icebreaker.” The premise behind the video, for those that haven’t seen it, is that by making caps on bottles of Coca-Cola extremely tight, women will have to ask the men passing by for help opening the bottle. The hope is that this will set off sparks of some sort. Basically, Coca-Cola is using too-tight bottle caps as a matchmaking tool.
And Coca Cola, I’m here to tell you that this little “trick” of yours is not cute. It’s not cute at all. It perpetuates archaic and damaging stereotypes about gender dynamics and relationships. It promotes the idea that women are helpless and that all we need is a strong man to swoop in and save the day. And it forces women to engage with men that they don’t know.
This video sends the message that women want, need, and welcome help from strange men. That this difficult-to-open soda bottle is all that stands between two strangers potentially falling in love. It tells men that they should approach women to help them because they may get a date out of it. To be honest, the last thing I want to do when I’m out by myself is engage with some dude that I don’t know. In fact, I spend most of my time out and about bracing myself to fend off the inevitable guy that thinks he’s entitled to a conversation with me. So Coca Cola placing a trap that would make me have to ask a man for help is infuriating and insulting.
You are making women dependent on a man to get something that they want/need. This is not romantic. You are creating a situation in which women are forced to ask a man for something, and then leaving them to deal with a now-awkward situation. Because this man has now helped her, she probably feels obligated to be nice to him or to talk to him because it would make her a bitch to ask him for something and then walk away, right? You are creating possibly non-consensual interactions that women may feel trapped in.
We need to rethink what we consider to be romantic. The behaviors that we often promote as “sweet” or “romantic” are, in reality, often quite creepy and sexist. This little prank is no different, Coca Cola.
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