First, even if it were true that “sex makes the world go round”, why treat a profound truth with casual, mocking contempt? Surely most Ancient Egyptians, Imperial Japanese, and medieval Europeans thought their lives and struggles to be prosaic and unimportant just as most modern Americans do about their own lives. Does that mean that we, ordinary modern Americans, regard the lives of these historic people that way? No. Obviously not. This commercial specifically exploits the popular, albeit fuzzy, impression that everyone in those eras was dealing with broadly-reaching and dramatic political and cultural events (ie: the common woman of today is being told to compare herself to the common woman of the past – who, as we “all know”, was patently uncommon). This is not necessarily a bad thing. Assuming the “sex-as-motor premise” were true, the fact that American women are being reminded that their own lives truly are just as important (and, in fact, more important – since their lives are morally rigtheous) than the romanticized impressions they have of the past, this commercial would be an exceptional positive. By asking modern women to take themselves – all of themselves – seriously in their own life time, it would be affimation and celebration of the fact that the American spirit is alive and well within young, middle-class, American women; a demographic notoriously lacking in it. It would be telling them, in effect: “you – through your sexuality – are the cause of the greatness that is our modern, scientific, industrialized, politically-stable and morally-just culture. You – the rewarding pleasure you have the capacity to impart – is the (uniquely rational and legitimate) incentive which motivates men to achieve the great things which they do. Honor that, by honoring yourself – by taking care of your body.” It would be giving moral justification to femininity, sexuality, and – by extension – masculinity, modernity, and Western culture’s Aristotelian (eudamonistic) philosophy.
Unfortunately for Summer’s Eve, however, the “sex-makes-the-world-go-round” theory is patently false – and so that interpretation of this commercial is too generous. In truth, all this commercial is actually doing is trying to appeal to what is the actual spirit of today’s women. In other words: this commercial is not asking modern women to take all of themselves seriously. It’s only asking them to take seriously the only aspect which has been taken seriously throughout most of human history. Which brings up the second problem with this commercial.
The reason why this commercial is expected to appeal to contemporary, ordinary American women is because it compliments a method of existence which more and more of them are employing more and more of the time. In past epochs – before America, individual rights, capitalism, and everything else exceptional about the post-Renaissance world – it really was possible for a woman to have increased chances for survival by being born with exceptional beauty. This isn’t to say that this isn’t still true – or even that it’s improper in a tie-breaker between two otherwise identical women – but merely to say that in past eras beauty alone could suffice. In other words: moral character be damned, looks are what count.
Why was that possible? Because of the men of the time. Before America, before individual rights, before capitalism, and before everything else exceptional about the post-Renaissance world, the men who rose to the top were either the most physically dominant or the most morally corrupt, or both. If you were stronger than the man down the road there was nothing in law or in ethics which said that you were wrong to take what he owned and make him your slave. Or, if you were more ruthless than him, again, there was nothing preventing you from declaring yourself his political superior, concocting some vague intellectual (usually religious) “justification” for it, and doing the same thing. In other words: Happiness (ie: Aristotelianism, eudamonism) be damned, raw survival (by any means necessary) is what counts (ie: that’s all that that can be expected of life, and that’s all that was had). Men like this, for centuries and in every corner of the world, ruled the types of men who currently (or at least until very recently) – and justifiably – “dominated” the culture from the American Revolution onward. They set the politics (individual rights), maintained the economics (capitalism), invented the wealth and made life better for everyone. In doing so, these men were able to “dominate” (ie: attract) contemporary women romantically and sexually – precisely because these women understood to whom they owed their existence. In the past, however, it was the morally-corrupt historical archetypes who were in charge. They were the ones who controlled the lives not just of morally-righteous, victimized men, but of women as well. Just as these brutes and degenerates sought to become their betters (the producers of wealth) by seizing the results of their betters, they sought ways to believe themselves to have similar spirits to those of their victims. They did so by acquiring the symbols of such a spirit. One such symbol was the companionship of a beautiful woman – so that’s who they sought.
Despite themselves, they knew that a beautiful woman, kept in a life of luxury, was only possible if enough wealth existed within the culture to support her. In the past, because of the prevailing social dynamics, there wasn’t much wealth – and thus such women weren’t common. If, in the past, a brute or a cheat seized enough wealth from his impoverished victims to be able to have such a woman, he was able to believe that he too was a creator of wealth, a contributor to society, and a man of noble soul. And just as terrified men allowed such men to believe they were productive achievers by choosing not to resist, so long as the brute’s woman, terrified like an animal in fear of her death at his hands, played along, he was able to look at her association with him and believe himself to be something other than what, the rest of the time, he knew that he was.
In a sense, a woman in this situation isn’t to blame – but only if she doesn’t know any better. The women of today should know better. There are mountain ranges of recent historical evidence to suggest that life doesn’t have to be the way it was for so long. They’re surrounded by the residual results of life “under” a different sort of man. It wasn’t until the Enlightenment (ie: it wasn’t until the traditional victims threw off their traditional oppressors) that the existence of such women began to grow; culminating in the archetype of the twentieth century American house wife (who lived a life far superior in terms of material comfort than even her uncommon historical counterparts ever could dream). Yet, most contemporary women couldn’t come close to realizing this fact – let alone caring enough to resist it’s reversal by any and all means available. That is why this commercial is expected to be appealing: despite it being patently primitive, it fits perfectly with the contemporary woman’s pre-Enlightenment, “progressive” world view.
For the most part, a woman can’t help it if she is born beautiful. Just as an ugly woman is to be applauded when she develops a beautiful soul nevertheless, a physically beautiful woman should be encouraged, inspired, and even expected to do the same (and chided if she fails – or worse: choses to intentionally make herself physically or spiritually ugly; as so many are doing today). This dynamic, however, assumes a specific type of broader cultural atmosphere; which itself presupposes a specific set of prevailing (implicit or explicit) philosophic beliefs. Today’s culture – today’s dominant philosophic assumptions – produces a view of life (ie: in politics, in economics, in personal relationships) – in which life is a zero-sum game. This necessarily produces women who believe and feel, down to their cores, not that physical beauty is merely a fortunate accident of nature – irrelevant to the problem of survival per se, but nevertheless an immense and luxurious value to be relished and cherished (in private, and only with a man who has earned it) once that problem has been overcome. Instead, increasingly, modern women necessarily regard physical beauty as nothing more than an uninspiring tool to be cynically used; in the same way that a predator disguises itself as a flower to deceive its prey. Life, to to the spiritually-battered women of today, is nothing more than an animal’s version of passive, hand-to-mouth existence. Emotionally, that nothing more should be expected of life than the private emptiness of believing that what she has isn’t what she deserves – only what she was born with. These are the cynical, wretched emotions being appealed to in this commercial.
Contrary to popular belief – which superfically, yet smugly and self-righteously, insists that personal belief systems have no relation to every day affairs and thus any and all of them must be tolerated and respected no matter what – improper philosophical ideas can and will rob a people of not just their freedom and wealth (as every day’s headlines show to be happening). Additionally, and more importantly, they can quite literally twist the core of your soul beyond recognition.