According to The DCist, a Metro ad features a dialogue between two women where one women is informing the other of how it takes over 8,000 miles before a Metrobus breaks down. The other women in response asks, “Can’t we just talk about shoes?”
To put a gender onto a set of organs is inaccurate at best and incredibly harmful at worst. In Dean Spade’s reading “About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts,” he talks about how reinforcement of certain organs being attributed to certain genders is inaccurate and enables the perpetuation of stereotyping and enforcing certain gender norms. It additionally presents unfortunate consequences to the people that don’t align with the gender that people typically associate with that set of genitals. This can also pose problems, as brought up in Spade’s other reading “Resisting Medicine Re/Modeling Gender” with regards to there being such a heavy influence on organs and gender that people who identify as non-cisgender who would like top/bottom/”facial feminization”surgeries (I recognize the also heavily gendered connotation of the phrase “facial feminization” however that is the only current term for what that surgery does) need a special diagnosis of GID to even get it because of how heavily gendered the body parts are. Another way that gendering body parts is dangerous is very explicitly outlined in “The Sexual Politics of Sickness” where it is discussed that not too long ago, all ailments of cis women were blamed entirely on the uterus and ovaries. There was an assumption that cis women (which was really the category of “all women that anyone cared about”) and the gendering of that specific body part led to thousands of women being forced to lead a life that caused them nothing but depression because of some “mysterious” illness that was the “female condition” relating heavily to the uterus and ovaries.
In this particular Axe commercial, women are made to be nothing more than items waiting to be conquered. This sets up Patricia Collins’s claim that men must exert their masculinity on others by showing how they can conquer women. Of course, the only way to do this is by buying the product. An interesting thing to note about this ad is that there isn’t a variance in customer aim other than the heterosexual cisgender male. Because of its nature, it spends most of its screen time showing women. As discussed in class, the women take on the job to fulfill a man’s fantasy by being part of alluring “professions”. Another thing that is seen in this video is the way that men and women behave on screen. Women are confident in posture and attractive by society’s standards. The men on the other hand are goofy, nerdy, and not “babes” by the media’s opinion. After all, any man, despite age or looks, can conquer a good looking woman if they use Axe.
Hill Collins, Patricia. Black Sexual Politics: African Americans Gender and the New Racism. New York: Routledge, 2005.
Sprint’s attack ad against AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile provides another example of the media’s use of ridicule to represent trans people. The ad implies that either presentation of the non-cisgender community or a man wearing a dress – or both – can only be understood in the absence of rational thought. This implication is directly associated with Tsai’s observation that “most people cannot understand why a man would give up his social privilege to become a disempowered female,” which blatantly ignores trans identity (10).
There are various topics that can fall under the category of “does not make any sense,” many of which evade demoralizing depictions of a community. That Sprint chose non-cisgender identity as the subject of their ridicule amplifies the rejection of the “biggest challenge to our essentialized gender dichotomy” that non-cisgender people pose (Tsai 10). Such representation enforces the heterosexual, cisgender normative through the ridicule of deviances from the norm.
Tsai, Wan-Hsui Sunny. “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising.” Advertising & Society Review 11.1 (2010). Web.
When talking about the difference between sex and gender, Judith Butler explains how, “When the constructed status of gender is theorized as radically independent of sex, gender itself becomes a free-floating artifice, with the consequence that man and masculine might just as easily signify a female body as a male one, and woman and feminine a male body as easily as a female one” (Butler 10). In summary, Butler describes gender as being free of structure and bodies (unlike sex) and Delphy describes gender as being a social construct that precedes sex.
If being viewed as an “Other” is an integral part of being a woman, as Simone de Beauvoir suggests, then the flipside of that notion is that being viewed as a man means being viewed as normal, the default gender and comes with a wealth of privileges due to being male. If someone is perceived to be female, then that person will face sexism even in subtle everyday forms. So, based on the treatment of different genders: Does the way perceived gender and cisnormativity (cisgender normativity) play out in sexism affect how society will or will not accept or respect a person’s chosen gender if it differs from their perceived gender?
My main question in regards to all of these notions mentioned above would be: Can we as individuals freely choose our own gender and have our gender be based on our own self-perceptions, or is our gender more dependent on how others treat, recognize and perceive our gender?
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Delphy, Christine. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. McCann and Kim, New York: Routledge, 2003.
Beauvoir, Simone de. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives “The second sex.” McCann and Kim New York: Routledge, 2003. Print.