Dove wants us to "Meet #RealMoms whose diverse parenting styles shatter stereotypes about motherhood." So here we have Cassidy, who is raising her son on a cattle ranch. Then there's Elise, who brings her daughter to breakdance battles. There's a single mother raising a son on her own, and a young mother and, hold on a second here, a biological father claiming to be a mother.

*record scratch music stops* Wait, what? "We're both going to be moms, *giggle*"

The idea is, of course, to promote that there's no right way to be a mother, motherhood is as individual as the women who birthed the babies. Women who are mountain climbers, horse ranchers, break dancers, teenagers, single, married etcetera and so on. This is in line with Dove's previous campaigns which have taught people to love their curves, curls, and themselves by showing us diverse images of beauty in all ages, and all races. So here they want us to see motherhood the same way. But in a world where the British Medical Association says mothers-to-be should be referred to as 'pregnant people' in their official guidelines, the word "mother" is a lightning rod for controversy. By applying it to a person who is the biological father of the child, Dove is not introducing us to #Realmothers, or broadening the word to include more people, Dove is helping to nullify what the word "mother" actually means. A mother is by definition a woman in relation to her children, and women are adult human females. Dove has stuck their neck out for women for over a decade now, changing how beauty products are advertised. Encouraging parents to talk to their daughters, instilling self-confidence in women who are too hard on themselves. Some of the campaign ideas have had better success than others, but they were all very interesting. With this, Dove is aligning themselves with this kind of Orweillian activism, which focuses on arguing against biological reality, that men and women are different. By allowing anyone to use the term that was once reserved for women, we erase women because the term now means nothing. These language games have far-reaching consequences, and I believe Dove will soon notice that their target market - mothers - are not willing to share that title with people who are fathers.

Why can't we have men who wear heels, lipstick and dresses? Why can't a father love pink and frilly? You can not show women who are breaking free from gender roles - being tough ranchers and mountain climbers - and then say that the man who is breaking free from his gender role is magically a woman. That's a contradiction. By including the transgender grad student, Dove shot down their own point.

Update Dove realmoms ad gets backlash and boycott threats

Client: Dove
Ad agency: Ogilvy Group

Commercials: 
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Comments (32)

  • Dabitch's picture
    Dabitch

    Did anyone else notice that the biological mother and partner to the transgender grad student didn't have a name? She didn't even get to speak. All of the other mothers are introduced with names and titles like "stay at home mom" or "dance instructor", but that mother is just a nameless womb in the background.
    She is the one who risked her life carrying that handsome baby to term, as women still die in childbirth worldwide, but she's not important enough to be allowed to speak in this ad. It's really an awful thing Dove does here, and I believe many women will turn away from the brand.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Oueta May's picture
    Oueta May (not verified)

    This is typical. Women's ACTUAL reality is being erased in order to make biological men who "feel" like women get to be moms now. The biological mom who went through the risks of pregnancy doesn't matter. No longer buying Dove products.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Actual Woman Female Mom's picture
    Actual Woman Fe... (not verified)

    Thanks so much for posting this. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only woman who is angry and frustrated about what transgender males are taking away from women! Transgender is a trendy topic at the moment; it seems companies are rushing to feature trans people just to score bonus "feel good" points, and the public is going along with it. Women are fawning over men who claim to be women, giving away our hard-won women's rights and advancements back to men! It makes me so angry and frustrated that so many women just don't get it. Transgender is basically a Men's Rights Activism movement. Men are taking what women have fought to accomplish, and women are called bigots and hateful when we balk or complain.

    I appreciate what Dove has done for women and girls during the past ten or so years, but this trans "men can be mothers, too" thing is erasing women. No, men cannot be mothers. If a male helps create a child, that male by definition is the father. And yes, the fact that the actual mother in this commercial is silent and not even named is astounding! Women take a back seat to men, even when the subject is motherhood, and even when the company is Dove, who supposedly puts women first and is all about women.

    I hope there is enough backlash that Dove notices and learns what they've done wrong in this case -- and that they never repeat it. Again, I'm thankful for Dove's earlier pro-female messages, but this message is a hypocritical, Orwellian, and a huge misstep. I hope the outcry is loud enough that Dove hears it, but, like I said, sometimes I feel like I'm the only woman with this view. Will other women defend their femaleness and object to men being allowed to erase us? I hope so.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Snare's picture
    Snare (not verified)

    It seems like just in general you don't support transgender people. Your whole argument is built on the idea that transgender women (by which I mean, born male) don't qualify as "real" women. But the trans community believes that the idea of "real men" and "real women" is a social construct. I agree with the trans community. You clearly don't.

    Dove is saying that "motherhood" is defined by what's in your heart. You say that it's defined by what's in your crotch.

    Advertising journalism usually aspires to be open-minded. I guess not always.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Oueta May's picture
    Oueta May (not verified)

    Believe me. You are not the only one!

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Oueta May's picture
    Oueta May (not verified)

    No! Gender is a social construct. He is not the mother. He is the father. He is a biological male. It's disgusting that the mother (an adult human female) was not named or talked to. That is wrong and you know it.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Oueta May's picture
    Oueta May (not verified)

    The father is interviewed as the mother in this commercial. The mother is silenced. Women are always silenced.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Actual Woman Female Mom's picture
    Actual Woman Fe... (not verified)

    Snare, being male or female is a biological reality, as is being a mother or a father. Male, female, mother, father: these things have basis in scientific fact. What is a social construct is society's idea of masculinity and femininity. Society has constructed "acceptable" behaviors for men and women based upon stereotypes. Just because a man likes to wear dresses and raise children, it doesn't mean he is a woman or a mother.

    Society should accept men and women who don't buy into stereotypes. A man should be able to wear makeup and dresses without having to give himself the false label of "woman," and women should be able to dip snuff and work in construction without having to take on the false label of "man."

    Gender stereotypes harm society. We need to ditch them and allow people to wear the hairstyles and clothes they like, and pursue the interests and hobbies they desire --- and recognize that these personality traits do not change a person's biological sex.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • nightshifting's picture
    nightshifting (not verified)

    Motherhood is defined by the person who endured the pain and actual physical risk of nine months of pregnancy and then the pain and actual physical risk of labor. Those are the people who get to decide what motherhood is. If Dove wanted to highlight a trans woman in their ads, fine, but not at the silence and non-naming - the obvious erasure - of the woman who actually endured pain and real risk to her physical well-being in order to bring another human being into the world. That is misogyny, pure and simple, and I will never buy another Dove product for as long as I live.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Ellis's picture
    Ellis (not verified)

    @ Snare. Trans identifying men are not and never will be women.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Morag999's picture
    Morag999 (not verified)

    'Dove is saying that "motherhood" is defined by what's in your heart. You say that it's defined by what's in your crotch.'

    Ah, that old story again! Mother is all heart, a sexless angel, an angel because she's sexless.

    Woman should be all heart -- preferably with no "crotch" to speak of. Because female reproductive organs are icky, right? So, please everyone, don't mention the unmentionable ...

    Female genitals, by their very existence, reduce a woman to ... female genitals. Horrible! To just BE female, is to be reduced to a "crotch." Therefore, in order for a woman to avoid her humanity being reduced to her sex, she should avoid being female. By contrast, males -- who by definition lack a female reproductive system -- infuse the term "mother" with full humanity.

    Women/mothers aren't really real, but the woman/mother inside a man's heart is super-real. The male heart supersedes the female womb.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • MsBAF's picture
    MsBAF (not verified)

    FYou Dove with your being the sage to tell us what motherhood means...I am a mother and a woman and that is an absolute insult to all mothers. Will never buy your products again...stay out of politics and stop trying to preach to us what motherhood is. Stick to soap and keep your stupid "trendy" uninformed ideology out of it.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • sport's picture
    sport

    @Dabs, I noticed, like you noticed the silence from the biological mother, that the men in the ad never get to speak. Now that you alerted me to the male pretending to be a mother something deep inside me is unsettled, and that is what I associate with the brand today.

    Dove used to celebrate normal, they are now celebrating abnormal.No soap can clean this.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • KatieCave's picture
    KatieCave (not verified)

    Thank you so much for making what should be an obvious, but for some reason, the mainstream media is too afraid to write about. This transgender issue has gone too far. Men with penises in women's locker rooms. Men with bulging muscles playing on women's-only sport teams. And most concerning to me personally, CHILDREN who think they are transgender -- simply because they don't fit into society's stereotypes -- are now having their minds poisoned and their bodies altered by a money-making industry. We don't need ads promoting this nonsense and confusing children even more than they already are.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Oueta May's picture
    Oueta May (not verified)

    Why were my comments deleted?

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Dabitch's picture
    Dabitch

    I see three comments from you earlier. We use Mollom, in case you got caught in that. That would be rare for humans though.

    Apr 14, 2017
  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Shame on you #dove. Im boycotting this brand

    Apr 14, 2017
  • Lisa's picture
    Lisa (not verified)

    If 'woman' and 'man' are social constructs then what is the point of people 'identifying' as transgender? What are they identifying as if being male or female is simply a construct? And how did that baby get here?

    Apr 15, 2017
  • Bugzy Martinez 's picture
    Bugzy Martinez (not verified)

    That is my comment above and im not a coward

    Apr 15, 2017
  • Bugzy Martinez 's picture
    Bugzy Martinez (not verified)

    Shame on you #dove. Im boycotting this brand

    Apr 15, 2017
  • Jenna's picture
    Jenna (not verified)

    This is deeply offensive to women who risk their lives carrying and giving birth to their children and will do the majority of care work for them, regardless of how their partners identify. These children did not come from their 'mother's' sperm. That is ludicrous and offensive to women. I think there's a lot more going on with some transwomen than mere gender dysphoria. I think some are narcissists and envious of women's ability to give life and want to usurp it. What person who respected their partner as the mother of their child would do that? It's just all about them all the time. This ad reflects and supports this self absorbed, misogynistic attitude in that it didn't even give a name or a voice to the actual mother who carried and gave birth to her child. I like Dove products and use them often. Oh well, time to find another brand.

    Apr 15, 2017
  • Lucia's picture
    Lucia (not verified)

    Yes, the heart, that's all you need to claim motherhood. Not years and years of menstruation, aching breasts and everything else in terms of ovum and uterine complications and symptoms in preparation for motherhood. Not to mention the actual pregnancy where your body accommodates a fetus, then baby, and the expulsion of the baby and what that does to your body. And after.

    Yeah. All in the heart.

    Apr 15, 2017
  • Oueta May's picture
    Oueta May (not verified)

    Yes. And did you know that Jazz Jennings wants his (he is a biological male) sister to carry his children. Jazz is sterile because of all the drugs he has taken. So he expects his sister to be inseminated with Jazz's future husband's sperm and then turn over her own child to Jazz. And Jazz's disgusting parents are OK with this.

    Apr 15, 2017
  • Nori Budge's picture
    Nori Budge (not verified)

    "We are both his biological parents." So a heterosexual couple have had a baby. Regardless of how the father styles his hair, in an advert for #realmoms, why did Dove not speak to the real mom. That she was totally sidelined is shocking.

    For a company that produces skin products I would expect a bit more understanding of biology and science.

    Apr 15, 2017
  • Alexandra's picture
    Alexandra (not verified)

    Fathers are not mothers. Thank you for pointing this out. The world has gone mad.

    Apr 15, 2017
  • Tom's picture
    Tom (not verified)

    "But the trans community believes that the idea of "real men" and "real women" is a social construct. "

    My XY chromosomes says the trans community is full of shit.

    Apr 16, 2017
  • jane's picture
    jane (not verified)

    @snare - So please, do enlighten us as to the exact characteristics of what a "woman" is if it is not about biological sex? Is it that we females are supposed to be submissive? Prefer pink over blue? Would rather spend time doing our nails than "icky" things like math? Is it that I should really love fashion magazines?

    No, sorry, I'm a female because I am biologically female, and this "brain sex" stuff is a load of stereotypical hogwash that is offensive and demeaning TO REAL WOMEN.

    Excuse me, I know I am not being ladylike here, but EFF OFF!

    Apr 17, 2017
  • Jessica Wicker's picture
    Jessica Wicker (not verified)

    I hate this ad. I will never buy Dove again!

    Apr 18, 2017
  • Greg Hoyt's picture
    Greg Hoyt (not verified)

    Sweet Jesus, that is a man, not a mother. Playing pretend doesn't make you a woman, chopping off your wiener (which he likely didn't do...) doesn't make you a woman. When you've never had a period, went through menopause, can or will ever get pregnant, when you have no ability to get milk out 'dem titties....then you're not a woman. Please, facts don't care about how you feel on the inside.

    Apr 20, 2017
  • Handsome Jack's picture
    Handsome Jack (not verified)

    Ah, Islamists making another cut among the thousands. See, this is that weird 'relativism' going on, where apparently everything is the same, yet somehow 'diverse'? It's schizophrenia

    Apr 21, 2017
  • John (man, husband, father)'s picture
    John (man, husb... (not verified)

    Hear,hear,those with open minds and will listen to the truth and not be swayed by the deceptive sociological constructs.

    Apr 21, 2017

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Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.