Politics professor Stephen Engel analyzes gay identity in Honey Maid’s ‘Wholesome’ ad

Stephen Engel, assistant professor of politics. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Stephen Engel, assistant professor of politics. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Assistant Professor of Politics Stephen Engel analyzes Honey Maid’s “This Is Wholesome” ad campaign that has gained attention by veering from what AdWeek calls “advertising’s usual white, heterosexual paradigm.”

One ad centers entirely on a married gay male couple with two children and a dog.

Writing for the blog Talking Points Memo, Engel notes that while the ad is hailed as inclusive, it also “highlights the contemporary boundaries and privileging of certain gay identities. Indeed, the men describe themselves as traditional. ‘Marriage, and a family, and having kids was always important,’ they tell us.

“These men are white. This family is affluent. And they are men; their gender presentation is normative in no way conflicting with traditional conceptions of masculinity. Without denying that the ad reveals the tremendous progress made in the achievement of gay rights and recognition, it simultaneously demonstrates the limits.”


“Dad & Papa,” from Honey Maid’s “This is Wholesome” ad campaign


Engel is a scholar of American political development, inter-branch relations, constitutional law and social movements, particularly LGBTQ socio-political and legal mobilization. He is currently a visiting scholar at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago.

He is the author is the forthcoming Fragmented Citizens: Developing LGBT Identities and Regulatory Power in the United States from NYU Press.

His prior books are The Unfinished Revolution: Social Movement Theory and the Gay and Lesbian Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2001), and American Politicians Confront the Court: Opposition Politics and Changing Responses to Judicial Power (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

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