Women pedestrians are not “mayhem,” Allstate

Have you seen the new Allstate Mayhem commercial? It opens with the Allstate Mayhem spokesman Dean Winters jogging, saying, “I’m a hot babe out jogging…” Then you see a man in a car ogling the “hot babe” and driving into a lamp post. The commerical ends with the Winters saying, if you go with Allstate, “you can be better protected from mayhem like me” [meaning, the woman running].

Excuse me? Women running = mayhem?

The men ogling women are the mayhem!!

Just last week I was driving my car and suddenly the car in front of me dropped about 15 miles per hour for no apparent reason. Then I saw the reason: a woman was walking her dog on the side of the road in a sports bra (in our recent 100-degree weather stint). When I passed him I saw that yes, he was staring out the window at her instead of focusing on driving.

Of course, this is not the first time I’ve witnessed such careless driving. Countless men have hung out the window of their car ogling or yelling at me while they are  supposed to be driving and all I have been doing is running, walking, or even waiting for a bus. More alarming, last year, two women were walking home from work, facing catcalls from men in a truck. The driver lost control of the vehicle and both women were hit and one was killed.

We women are going about our days, yet WE’RE the mayhem? YEAH RIGHT.

More on this commercial from Liz whose Community Feministing post alerted me to this vile commercial.

As I was watching tv the other night I saw AllState’s newest commercial in their ‘protect yourself from mayhem’ series…

Here are my 2 big issues: the implication that slobbering over a woman from your car is generally acceptable, and that the woman is in fact the bringer of the mayhem.  This commercial says any woman jogging, or walking, or simply existing on any sidewalk in America is fair game to be sexualized, and rarely does that sexualization remain silent, it is usually accompanied by street harassment yelled from a passing car.  I personally jog about 2miles every morning and there are streets I will not jog on because I know someone is going to honk or catcall and at 8 in the morning that’s not something I want to deal with.  But this commercial is saying go ahead young men(any men really) stare, stare at her until your basic motor functions are compromised.  And then blame her.

She is the mayhem, she is the reason you crashed your car into a lightpole.  She made you do it, she made you crazy.  Does that sound like abuser logic to anyone else?  Why do you make me hit you, sounds a lot like, why did you make me crash the car?  Presumably if the ‘woman’ had not been so carelessly jogging along the sidewalk this young man would never have been distracted and would have been able to competently drive his car.  But the message here is one we have heard before (in rape cases), men cannot biologically control their impulses when it comes to sexuality and women.

The solution is clear to me: women pose such a serious risk to male drivers that we can no longer be allowed to jog outdoors.  This is for the good of the nation, we simply cannot expect men to remain in control of their functions while we prance around the neighborhood.  America is counting on us.

29 Responses to Women pedestrians are not “mayhem,” Allstate

  1. Jason says:

    Umm.. It’s a joke. Lighten up. I can’t believe you took the time to write this blog. That’s what’s wrong with America now.. No one can take a joke any more.

  2. @Jason. I have a sense of humor and like to laugh. And I think this could have been funny had they not called the woman the mayhem. I think you missed the point of my blog post and I’m glad I took the time to write it.

  3. Alan says:

    I just emailed a complaint through the All State website. Hopping for some response.

  4. Rachel says:

    Heh. Someone who is not the subject of the characterization getting to decide if it’s worth getting upset over. That’s HI-larious! Keep ’em coming.

    Or better yet: Don’t. Just listen and learn.

  5. Bridget says:

    Jason, yes, if your entire outside existence isn’t colored by having to live with taunts, threats and verbal & physical abuse, I could see where this would come across to you as “uptight” and inspire you to write that no one can take a joke any more.

    It’s hard not to draw a parallel with this commercial however, when a woman is KILLED because some Neanderthal couldn’t control his penis long enough to control his vehicle.

    When put into this context, the laughter usually subsides. You might want to consider doing the same.

  6. Brittanie says:

    I have to agree with Justin. I’m a female and I’m all for feminism and all, but this is just silly. They have commercials about a dog chewing up your car seats. Is the dog the bringer of mayhem or just an innocent pup exercising normal behavior? Are they saying that the dog is horrible and it’s all the dog’s fault? No. They’re saying protect yourself. Their new commercial line is supposed to be humorous, not personal. So chill.

  7. Golden Silence says:

    So chill.

    Sad that someone who’d be considered part of the “mayhem” condones this.

  8. Alan says:

    I wrote All State and here is their response. I suppose there may be a fine line between offensive and humorous….but the point of harassment in any context is not what I the harasser/jokester may think is offensive/humorous, but what the recipient thinks. It is easy to say, “this was intended as a joke, lighten up”—but it is more important to say, “oh, I didn’t realize this was offensive, ok, I’ll take a different approach.”

    > Dear Mr. :
    >
    > Thank you for contacting Allstate about our television advertising. At Allstate, we value all the comments we receive, both positive and negative. We believe that everyone deserves an individual response and would like to respond to your concern.
    >
    > We appreciate the comments you provided about our new “Mr. Mayhem” advertising. While we try hard to create advertisements that appeal to everyone, unfortunately there are times when some people do not like our commercials. We’re sorry you found this to be the case.
    >
    > We are using the “Mr. Mayhem” character to illustrate – in an “over-the-top”, humorous way – the potential dangers and threats people face every day. Mayhem is an unconventional teacher, whose objective is to get consumers to consider the protection they need. “Mr. Mayhem” is not a person, yet he personifies many of the uncertainties that Allstate helps protect people against – reminding people why they need the right insurance. Customers are at the center of everything we do, and these new ads are designed to ensure consumers are aware of the dangers and have the right insurance to be adequately protected.
    >
    > Please know that we take all feedback very seriously and very much appreciate your comments. As is our practice, we are using feedback received to make modifications to our commercials. Thank you so much for contacting Allstate and sharing your thoughts with us.
    >
    > In an effort to continue to improve our processes you may receive a survey call asking how well I handled your concern. We value your responses so we can provide the best customer service. Thank you for doing business with Allstate
    >
    > Sincerely,
    >
    > Sharon Aldridge
    >
    > Customer Resolution Specialist
    >
    > CES @ Roanoke
    >
    > Allstate Insurance Company
    >
    > 1819 Electric Road
    >
    > Roanoke, VA 24018
    >
    > Phone 1-800-570-6206 Ext 4613
    >
    > abx2n@Allstate.com
    >
    > CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE: This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and intended only for the stated recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of this e-mail or any attachment is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify us immediately by returning it to the sender and delete this copy from your system. Thank you for your cooperation
    >

  9. Thank you for writing to Allstate, Alan, and for sharing their response to you.

  10. Berna says:

    If I saw Dean Winters jogging down the street, I would probably be oogling him and crash into a tree! Ha! Ha! He’s hot!

  11. Care says:

    Hahaha I LOVE this commerical! That guy is amazing at acting haha! Its so sad that people need every small reason to complain about something. I’m a female and I’ve had guys stare at me when I go jogging or take my dogs for a walk and you don’t see me bitching about this. I don’t find this commerical offensive in any way and I don’t know why anyone should? Its just good humor in hopes of people buying car insurance. What if the roles were reversed? Guy jogging, girl slams car into a light pole. I can probably bet you wouldn’t be complaining about it then. Maybe you would though, saying its the guys fault for flaunting himself in public? Just because some ladies were never asked to the prom (obviously)or have a problem with males doesn’t mean you should take it out on this. This actor or the people who made the commerical don’t know who you are and they probably don’t care too. Funny how you all complain about women’s rights and for people to stop being sexists, yet here you are being sexists towards males. This is why the world will always have its problems, everyone always wants to point the finger at someone else. Stop hating people that have a penis between their legs instead of a vagina. The world isn’t fair, boo hoo, get over it and yourselves. Try being more openminded. Being hateful wont fix anything, try being loving and understanding. And again, its just a commerical.. a very funny one hahaha.

  12. Sam says:

    @Care That’s the problem with women like you. You think the world is divided into two sets of females. Those like yourself, who are (obviously) attractive and have been rewarded as such (good job being a trophy), and the rest of us, who *obviously* just want to *be* the trophy. Right. You are deluded.

    I think our society has a pretty clear track record, even in these modern times, of equating the feminine with the negative, the weak, the stupid, the over-emotional, and a whole plethora of other insulting stereotypes. These commercials, with their “cute” pink accessorizing of the same thing they’re warning us all against, are just one of the most current examples. And those examples are legion in today’s commercials. And as for your pathetic attempt to pinpoint the specific object(s) of my ire, I’m not so much pissed at AllState or Dean Winters, as I am at people, especially women, like you: You play dumb, or pretend it isn’t a big deal, or offer some ridiculous “other foot” premise that has no basis in reality – and you do it all from some privileged point above the rest of us, some imaginary height built upon an “I’m too pretty for this feminist bullshit” foundation. I suppose you find our complaining unnecessary. I find *your* comments unnecessary.

  13. Penny says:

    Oh good grief, people! IT’S A FREAKIN COMMERCIAL! I agree with Jason, I can’t belive anyone would waste time complaining about something like this… (worse than that, that I took time to read such a ridiculous rant…)

  14. Sam says:

    @Penny

    Mmmm…. I love it when a stranger threatens me with sexualized violence over the Internet.

    It makes me all tingly.

    And, oh yeah, completely unapologetic.

  15. @sam sorry! I didn’t read the full post by @Penny. I’m deleting the last violent sentence of @Penny’s post. Totally uncalled for and unacceptable on this blog.

  16. Sam says:

    @administrator You don’t have to do it for me, but I understand and respect your policies; so, thanks.

  17. Lamar says:

    @ Jason, Brittanie, Penny, Care: Please go back to the troll pit you came from. I am so sick of people talking about how it’s ‘just a ‘ to excuse every single fucking thing that goes on in the media. It’s irony, it’s a joke, it’s a satire, you’re overreacting, it’s just a game, it’s just a commercial. Blah blah blah. If you have nothing substantial to say.. then stop typing. It’s just a silencing tactic, and it shows you are not capable of actually grasping the (clearly layed out by the author) reasons it’s problematic. You can’t actually consider that, hey, this shit really needs to be taken seriously and not joked about when it goes on all the damn time in public. You’re on a freaking site that proves time and again that street harassment is still pretty prevalent. Making jokes about those things (and how, y’know, it’s the woman’s fault for existing. Yay victim-blaming!) is just normalizing it, and people laugh at jokes because they think it’s ‘funny because it’s true’.

    Care, though, is really hilarious with that super defensive reaction😄 “Omg you women are criticizing certain men, obviously this means you just hate /all men/, you can’t actually have /legitimate/ complaints! See how /unhateful/ I am, tarring you all with the same label?” And the privilege swinging, arrogance “/I/ don’t find it offensive so no one else should even though they explained exactly why they did in the article!” “You’re being sexist against men by pointing out that some men harass women on the streets! Somehow!” Care has finally enlightened us to the truth. You are sexist if you point out sexism. Genius. All the rest of what Care said is just the same silencing tactics though, which stop being really funny and more.. pathetic.

    And honestly, if people are just ‘wasting their time’ on this as you have decided, why the hell are you even commenting on this? Maybe it’s more important to you than you think, hmmm? You’re trying so hard to simply shut the conversation down after all. I guess you’re the ones who still need to ‘chill’, huh?

  18. Golden Silence says:

    Sam, so well-spoken and true. Women like them set feminism back, and make it hard for women like us who do want to make a difference in this world.

    By the way, I saw another Allstate ad where Mayhem depicts a shallow, teenage Valley girl-type who’s using her cell while driving. Allstate does not have a good track record with images of women in these commercials.

  19. Golden Silence says:

    And honestly, if people are just ‘wasting their time’ on this as you have decided, why the hell are you even commenting on this? Maybe it’s more important to you than you think, hmmm? You’re trying so hard to simply shut the conversation down after all. I guess you’re the ones who still need to ‘chill’, huh?

    They should go to a site that caters to their ignorant views, and let the rest of us who are concerned with changing and challenging these views be in peace.

  20. Sam says:

    Update: instead of “checking out [her] perfect ten body” (or whatever the original quote was), Winter’s now says in an overdub that the driver is checking out his headband. Interesting. Someone’s paying attention.

  21. Kim says:

    You know, the really unfortunate part of this entire Mr. Mayhem campaign is the reiterated point of woman as problem. The “typical teenage girl” who undoubtedly will hit your car is more of a threat than the possibility of the reckless teenage boy who would be guilty of the same inattentive actions. The choice of the buxom “babe” being the reason you can’t watch the road objectifies women as both problem and distraction. Women represented as mayhem next to forces of nature and pets makes us the source of problems. Being in a post-feminist society where we can all laugh at the implications of poor judgement on the part of women is frustrating, to say the least. It also appears that men have not been in the wrong even once in these commercials. Women are the unpredictable accidents.

  22. Marie says:

    This is a little crazy. Are you guys suggesting we monitor the media and force them to put commercials that offend nobody? That violates the constitution.

  23. Sam says:

    @Marie Your use of the phrase “offend nobody” seems to imply that you feel this is similar to controversies stemming from cultural/religious conflicts, such as the much-used “remove your Nativity scene from public space, ’cause we’re not all Christians” example. I don’t think that’s exactly the case here. It’s not so much about censorship as it is about asking (everyone) to rethink the kinds of harmful stereotypes that they participate in perpetuating against fellow human beings. Conflating the two relegates the topic of women’s rights to some easily pushed aside “special interest group” rubbish pile. Women are not a minority; we are not a special interest group. And like it or not, television (including commercials) carries a lot of cultural weight. I’d venture to say that, unfortunately, tv is the prime mode of enculturation in America now. Humans learn a lot about how they should behave by watching others around them. Before tv the “others” were family members, community members, etc (for better or worse). Now television is competing for and winning a large chunk of that pie, and in the process delivering a million tiny cuts to the body of women’s rights that have taken a long time to build. Thus, I think we all need to keep an eye on and challenge what we don’t like about one of the strongest enculturation mediums in our society today.

  24. Lola says:

    The commercials are using over the top stereotypes and commonplace distractions on purpose. Keys scratching the side of your car, getting distracted by texting, swerving to avoid a deer – these are all stereotypical examples of car accidents. The All State folks are using these examples (yes, the woman jogger too) because they are situations people are FAMILIAR with and that have been used before in media like movies & tv for comedic effect.

    They’re not doing this to make a statement trying to undermine women’s rights or to propagate violence against women. They are doing this to get you to buy their car insurance to protect yourself. I highly doubt the heads behind the commercial wanted to objectify women as the cause of all car accidents; with the same logic, I guess you could say they’re also objectifying deer as sexual objects?

    These are all comedic scenarios intended to make the viewer perk up and listen a bit more carefully because they’ve probably been in a situation like that before, and don’t want to be in a situation like that again. It’s not that big of a deal.

    Frankie say relax, guys. Wait, did I just make a sexual reference?! I guess I should go hang my head with the All State guys now…

  25. Marie says:

    @ Sam Who cares. Men are stereotyped in the media too. Lighten up, have a sense of humor. What right do men have that women don’t? You need to relax and have a sense of humor. If it offends you for some alien reason, don’t watch it. If you’re some crazy feminist why don’t you go out in the world and do something to promote change instead of complaining about every little offensive thing you hear or see on TV or the internet. By the way, all that stuff you wrote makes no sense.

  26. FI0008 says:

    @Lamar, Golden Silence, and Sam,

    thank you for your candid and thoughtful responses.

    Penny and Care’s responses are only a sad reflection of how brainwashed people in general are about the issue. It only shows how blind people are. They obviously didn’t stop to really think about it, about what it really meant…because if they did, they would say, “wait a minute..this is not right.”

    Probably because like so many women, they are part of the inequality problem. They accept mediocrity, they accept the “treatment” and are in fact SO used to it, they cannot…even….see it, when it is right before their eyes!

  27. FI0008 says:

    …perhaps also, a [big] part of the inequality problem is that women (girls, let’s all admit this) have at least one point in their lives realized how their sexual charm can be used to get them things they want.

    It makes things…easy. Like maybe getting a discount, a deal, a job, or to sell a product.

    Using your own female sexual charm is convenient in that sense…you do less work. [hey if you don’t believe me, watch “The Hot Chick” movie, where a girl and guy swap bodies but not minds.}

    The point is that girls can get “lazy” and rely TOO much on their sexual power, or be insecure enough to overly DEPEND on their sexual charm to receive ego-feeders, and then they realize that equality would be tough!! They would have no special advantage over men! They would have to work harder!

    This is a problem!!!

    We need more women to rely less on their sexual prowess and more on their serious capabilities, strong sense of self, conviction, knowledge and non-sexual traits! Let’s show the world what women really are–the non-masculine self-asserted confident gracious, soft yet strong agile beings we are!

  28. Folks, I’m going to close up comments for this blog post now. This blog is safe place for people to share their experiences with harassment in public spaces and to analyze that issue. While some comments in this thread do that, many are filled with attacks that are not thoughtful but are actually quite ignorant and hateful. I’ve published most of them to show the range of views, but I’m done now.

    And as this is my blog, I will close out the thread by voicing my opinion again. For those who think this is a totally harmless commercial, would you if the woman was replaced by a black man or a gay man and they were being targeted? Why is it okay to harass women because they are female?

    Why is it okay to call women “mayhem” for simply being in public? And I do have a sense of humor, as most feminists do (I found the puppy and wind mayhem commercials humorous, for example), but I stand by what I said earlier, had the MAN DRIVING THE CAR been called mayhem, I wouldn’t have written this post. That would be funny. Blaming women for just existing is not funny to me since in real life we have less access to public places because society in general blames us for any harassment or assault we experience there.

    Last, anyone who thinks there is no gender equality may need a wake up call, especially the women.

  29. Lisa says:

    I never thought of that commercial as offensive, but I see your point. Mayhem should have been driving the vehicle.

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