This commercial depicts some men suggestively rocking their hips to the theme of ;Jingle Bells’. It’s interesting because it’s one of the few commercials which very obviously attempt to objectify men in order to sell something. Although in this case, it’s boxers, which lowers my criticism of it — it still seems over the top. Especially by attempting to make the men’s genitals the focus of the commercial.
The sexualization of men is not rare, but in comparison to women, it becomes striking. This commercial is noticed by many and said to be too strong of a message and not ‘family friendly’. Interesting when compared to the many advertisements showing women in comparatively revealing poses or actions. It shows how men are seen to be sexualized differently than women and in certain circumstances, only one is acceptable.
The music video “Timber” by Ke$ha and Pitbull starts off with a bunch of men carrying Ke$ha in a worshipping way, perceiving that they are beneath her. This is definitely different than most music videos when the women are half naked dancing around the guy singing. However, when Pitbull starts singing, that is exactly what happens… A crowd of half naked girls surrounds him. But, what is really strange is that throughout the video, whenever it flashes back to Pitbull there is a girl on him, but when it flashes back to Ke$ha she is posing alone, or with girls.
It seems that society expects that the man should be seduced by a strip tease from all of the women in the video. Today, most music videos have the male singing and a group of girls strip teasing for him. During the twentieth century, the practice of strip teasing was greatly decensored. But the question remains: Does this show male dominance? Some people, like Dahlia Schweitzer, argue that strip teasing gives women power over men. She argues that the women “are clearly in charge” and that “By removing her clothes, the stripper disrupts years of patriarchal hegemony” (Schweitzer 2000, 72).
Schweitzer, Dahlia. 2000. “Striptease: The Art of Spectacle and Transgression. ”Journal of Popular Culture 34(1):65–75.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9HMhSvnbmk This ad for the Samsung Smart TV perpetuates outdated assumptions about a man’s assumed role in the household. In the ad, we see a woman fantasizing about “upgrading” her husband’s role in the household just as she would a Samsung TV. In her dream, we see the man cooking, taking care of the baby, cleaning, and preparing dinner for his wife only to have the fantasy abruptly end and return to reality where the man sits around on the couch grunting like a caveman and eating food like a slob. The stereotyped representation of what a typical man looks like is so exaggerated that the man is literally sitting in a mess in a crumbs and farting while the woman is neat and put together. The portrayal of men as such is merely a stereotype and the idea of an “evolution” of the household dynamic as a futuristic concept is clearly outdated. As Belkin wrote, when it comes to changing stereotypical household responsibilities, “the perception of flexibility is itself a matter of perception” (5). The dynamic of the home can easily change if the couple is willing to make changes. If men in Sweden willingly take paternal leave, clearly not all men need to be technologically “upgraded.” Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” NY Times. 15 June 2008. Web. 01 Dec 2013. Bennhold, Katrin. “In Sweden, Men Can Have It All.” NY Times. 9 June 2010. Web. 01 Dec 2013.
When studying the sexualized and desired bodies of both men and women, it’s important to look at what constitutes as fairness. The oversexualization of women is something that has become prevalent in our society. Through advertisements and commercials, femininity is constructed as a series of norms and ideas in which women are portrayed as the inferior gender. For example, in music videos, women are constructed as the object of men’s desire in a setting where they have little or no control over themselves or their surroundings. Women are seen acting uncontrollably when a man is in front of them and often times, the hyper masculinity and violence of men is often ignored in return for sexual gratification. While these images are obviously problematic because women are placed on the losing end of a scale measured by objectification, I found myself wondering what exactly would I consider to be a fair representations of genders in these music videos?
In some ways, men are now being objectified through the media in ways similar to women; their overly sexualized depictions are in some ways comparable to women. While the ubiquity of sexualization of men is yet to be seen in the same way women are, is this what we would consider to be fairness? I have a hard time believing that the marginalization of any sex or gender can ever be considered fair even if they are being held to the same standards. I propose fairness to be an ideology under which men and women can be positively represented and thus the relationship between men and women can depend less on a hierarchy of genders and more on a respectful portrayal.
An article titled “The Real Boy Crisis: 5 ways America tells boys not be girly” on Salon.com lists five behaviors that are unacceptable for boys because it diverts from masculine gender norms. The article reveals the notion of men and gender representation. Gender norms and its association with masculine and feminine traits create gender oppression. Gender oppression often focuses on the oppression of women in a patriarchal society because women are constantly encouraged to assert feminine characteristics. Women are seen as the oppressed gender and men are seen as the suppressors. However, gender oppression also has an affect on men’s behavior as they are constantly bombarded with images that tell them how to assert masculinity. Masculinity limits men’s ability to express their feelings. The idea of masculinity needs to be proven by asserting strength in the forms of aggression and independence. Being a man implies that a person is able to handle situations on their own without expressing any emotional empathy or vulnerability. These characteristics aim to devalue feminine traits men may obtain that are associated with being unmanly. Feminine traits are described as showing emotions such as compassion, love and sensitivity. Boys are told not to act like girls because it is shameful to their masculinity. These limitations allow men to be criticized when acting in a feminine manner. Men are encouraged to conform to these gendered stereotypes, which lead to an oppression of true thoughts and actions. Performing masculinity prevents men from being themselves. These ideas shape the way men and women treat one another because men are devalued for expressing the same traits women are expected to perform.
“Shrinking Women,” a spoken word poem by Lily Myers, articulates the relationship between women, food, space, and voice. Myers compares her upbringing with her brother’s, and explains that while men are encouraged to speak out and raise their voices, women are told to become less than and belittle themselves. As Myers speaks, “I have been taught accommodation. My brother never thinks before he speaks; I have been taught to filter […] You [her brother] have been taught to grow out, I have been taught to grow in.”
The inequity Myers discusses is cultural, and we’ve all experienced or seen the phenomenon of the “shrinking women.” Susan Bordo discusses the issue of “the slender body;” culturally, women are told to view and value themselves only in terms of their physical appearance, and can only be deemed valuable if they fit the image of beauty societally upheld: skinny. Men aren’t upheld to a similar definition of beauty, however, and, as Myers highlighted in her poem, are taught completely different standards of behavior. As John Berger wrote in “Ways of Seeing,” “men act and women appear.” It is very obvious that a large inequality exists between men and women in our society. This inequity can only be eliminated when women are no longer upheld to the skinny ideal and taught to shrink.
Berger, John. “Ways of Seeing.” Ed. Amelia Jones. The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.
Bordo, Susan. “Reading the Slender Body.” Unbearable Weight. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. 185-212. Print.
It’s almost mind-boggling how creative advertisers have become to enforce gender binaries and create sexist commercials in order to turn a quick profit. Al Rifai, a Lebanese nut company, managed to turn a poster for a seemingly innocuous food into yet another example of chauvinistic advertising. Who knew cashews and walnuts could be so offensive?
The advertisement consists of two pictures, one of a walnut and one of a cashew. The walnut picture bears the slogan “Because he’s got the brains,” while the cashew’s slogan reads, “Because she’s got the curves;” underneath these phrases are the words “Happy Valentine.”
According to Al Rifai, men are attractive because of their intelligence, while women are found valuable solely through their physical, not mental, attributes. This sexist message is particularly damaging because it reinforces the societal preoccupation with women’s physical appearance and conflates physical beauty with a woman’s worth. As Susan Bordo wrote in “Reading the Slender Body,” “women in our culture are more tyrannized by the contemporary slenderness ideal than men are, as they typically have been by beauty ideals in general.” Objectifying women by comparing them to cashews? That’s nuts.
Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight. “Reading the Slender Body.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. 185-212. Print.