Monday, February 8, 2010

Man up

I have to get something off my chest here. In case you didn't know this, I am not a man, I am a woman. Apparently this makes me unworthy of most of the products sold during the Superbowl.

Many of the Superbowl ads this year make me ashamed to be part of this industry. Granted, Superbowl ads are generally heavy on the testosterone (Go Daddy anyone?), but this year's ads, in my opinion, were the worst, most misogynistic collection of spots I've seen in a while, if not ever. At $3 million dollars a pop, I was thinking these companies would try to broaden their reach to include rather than disclude. Silly me. Must be because I'm a woman.

I'll name but a few.
- Docker's "wear the pants" campaign (you already know I hate this, no need to discuss again)
- the new Dove men's line ("manthem"... need I say more?)
- Chrysler ("I will carry your lip balm, I will watch your vampire TV shows with you, I will put the seat down, I will put my underwear in the basket, and because I do this, I will drive the car I want. Man's. Last. Stand.")
- FloTV (something about the girl removing the guy's spine and making him shop with her)
- Bridgestone (the guy throws his wife out of the car in the pouring rain because he loves his tires more)
- Bud Light (guys at their wives' book club - one exchange was something like "How do you feel about Little Women?" "I'm not too picky" and another was a guy and girl talking about reading and the guy said something like, "I'd like to hear YOU read some words."

And yes, there were more, these were just the standouts.

What the hell? These spots are sending clear messages, including that men are superior to women, women make men weak, in fact women are either nags or sex objects and that's all, being a "man" means something specific rather than having a certain combination of chromosomes and therefore effeminate men (god forbid gay men) are not real men... I could go on and on and on.

I guess the two main things I don't understand are a) the aggressive attitude behind this, and b) why masculinity must be constructed in opposition to (and at the expense of) other groups? This social construction is fascinating and upsetting to me. When there are messages to women about being real women (and let's be honest, that's rare in this male-dominated culture), it's generally about being more comfortable in your own skin compared to other women, not compared to men. (Of course, this is only when marketers are not trying to sell women on beauty products to make them into the ideal woman for their man, but that's beside my point.) Why does this sense of masculinity have to be in opposition to women? To gay men? To men a little less 'roided up than others?

I am thankful that the two guys who were at my Superbowl party are nice guys who were just as offended as I was at these ads (if not more). But a plea to all the marketers out there reading this. Please stop. It's 2010. And I am not amused.

PS: Time Magazine agrees with me - "Wow, Super Bowl ad men really hate Super Bowl ad women this year, don't they?" Uh, clearly.

Male Inequality


Ben said...

Do you read Feministing? They've had a lot of posts about the ads.

Lisa said...

No, but I will start reading it now. Thanks Ben.