The above article by Suzanne Venker, published just a few days ago, puts marriage neatly in a box, where men are the breadwinners, and women live a balanced life taking care of the home and children. (This article is also heteronormative.) It is obviously not wrong if a man and woman marry and choose this model for their lives, but it is wrong for Venker to say that this is the only good model. Many others exist; men can take care of the house or children while women work, or they can divide the work evenly. The “research” in this article consisted of sweeping generalizations. The one that bothered me most was: “That women prefer part-time work is simply irrefutable…And it’s even true among Ivy League graduates!” The articles she cites for these generalizations only use specific examples. Yet she uses them to perpetuate harmful stereotypes of what homes and families should look like.
This hearing advertisement by Widex takes on a different marketing approach to their products as they use a stereotypical portrayal of a man to their advantage. The caption “Men never listen. Still, it’s nice to know they can” speaks to the notion that men have selective hearing when communicating with women. This advertisement suggests that, if men buy this product they do not have an excuse not to listen to what women are saying. As mentioned by Lorber, “in social interactions… individuals learn what is expected, see what is expected, act and react in expected ways, and thus simultaneously construct and maintain the gender order” (Lorber 115). This add reiterates her point because it demonstrates how men may behave with women based on the social constructions that encourages them to detach from expressing emotions and fully communicating. Men are encouraged to look at women but not listen. Paying attention to details is not considered a macho trait and is not widely used to describe a man’s personality. This social construction as well as the many other traits learned by men encourages rational and less sensitivity to details whereas women are stereotyped as natural listeners capable of empathy. As Gloria Anzaldua mentions in La conciencia de la mestizo, acting macho is a learned behavior that is the result of hierarchal male dominance. With these gender roles men may become “confused and entangled with sexist behaviors that they have not been able to eradicate” (84).For these reasons, men may oppose the behaviors they feel inclined to in order to maintain their constructed gender roles.
The Social Construction of Gender by Judith Lorber
La conciencia de la mestiza; Towards a New Consciousness by Gloria Anzaldua
This commercial was released by fast-food restaurant Carl’s Jr. to promote their new Jalapeño Chicken Sandwich. The ad portrayed sexist, stereotypical analysis of both men and women’s societal normative behaviors, as well as objectification of the female body in order to sell their product.
A white male is seen eating his sandwich as a solitary tear drops down his face, a result of the sandwich’s spiciness. When his skinny, bikini-clad girlfriend begins to chastise him for only wanting to “watch the game,” she notices that he is crying and her face immediately twists into a look of disgust before letting him off the hook.
This ad is overflowing with harsh, gender specific stereotypes. The woman’s positioning in the commercial allows for the man (and the audience) to shamelessly stare at her from behind as she leaves the patio, an illustration of John Berger’s notion that “woman is naked as the spectator sees her” therefore “turning herself into an object of vision- a sight.” This uses a sexualized female body as an attention-grabbing method to sell an (unrelated?) burger, as well as enforcing the negative stereotype that women are “nags.” The men watching this commercial are offered the perspective that it is sometimes okay for a man to cry, but only if they are eating this macho burger.
I believe that the woman’s fleeting look of disgust is a silent yet sharp reminder to the male audience that, as Bell Hooks points out, the “patriarchal macho image” is expected from all men, so they must constantly defend their masculinity. This disappointing commercial rejects man’s natural right to show emotion, only allowing it if there is a manly reason or prize behind the tears, such as a spicy burger or a newly a compliant girlfriend. It makes me wonder: how long will it be until masculinity itself is defined by no emotion at all?
Berger, John. “From Ways of Seeing.” Trans. Array The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.
Hooks, Bell. “Seduced by Violence No More.” Outlaw Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994.
I found this ad a couple days ago, and it was oddly refreshing to see a company advertising and breaking stereotypes. OF course that was after I noticed that even when attempting to break stereotypes, Nike started their commercial by sexualizing a woman in my point of view. Also alike what Simone de Beauvoir states, the women in the commercial are supposed to be defined in contrast to men. So much that they even included a man in the commercial just to point it out (“outrun him”), as if women could not be athletic unless they somehow compared to men. Although the woman is seen as faster, it’s still defining the accomplishments of women in comparison to men. This is similar to what Judith Lorber states about any action a man takes being more valuable, thus the women in the commercial having to beat the men to be seen as athletic. On its face, a progressive ad, but in depth — slightly more nuanced.
De Beauvoir, Simone. Feminist Theory Reader: Local & Global Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 20013. Print.
Judith Lorber, “The Social Construction of Gender” (1990)
The DiGiorno commercial ties very well with the main ideas discussed in Beauvior’s text titled The Second Sex: Introduction and Lorber’s text titled The Social Construction of Gender. In this commercial both genders are stereotyped into traditional gender roles as the men are seen relaxing outside while viewing sports and the woman is seen heading into her home with two large grocery bags. The men decide to order a pizza – but the main male character decides to call his spouse instead to demand her to make him a pizza the way he likes it. She replies, “you know I hate when you do this” as if this is an everyday occurrence between the two of them. He then demands her to make the pizza quickly. This commercial resembles how Beauvior discusses gender: “man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him” (Beauvior 33). Her existence is dependent on serving men instead of being independent to do the task she enjoys. Lober’s belief that gender “creates the social difference that define woman and man” because people “learn what is expected…thus simultaneously construct and maintain the gender order” (Lorber 115). This construction is seen as the woman is expected to make the pizza for the men as she always does. After making the pizza the woman retaliates by turning the sprinkler on the three men. The men have no reaction and continue to watch sports, as if they are oblivious to her existence. Their actions demonstrate that men are seen as the supreme and the woman is only significant in service to men. Therefore, the woman is only defined according to the men’s terms.
Judith Lorber, “The Social Construction of Gender”, 1990.
De Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.”, 2003.
Fairness involves an equal, unprejudiced representation for all genders. The term “Gender Identity Disorder” does not allow a fair representation for individuals that identify themselves as transgender. “Gender Identity Disorder” is an unfair portrayal because of the negative connotations surrounding the word “disorder”. GID is used to describe a person who experiences discomfort with their biological gender and identifies with the opposite gender as a more appropriate presentation.
I first heard the term while viewing “I Am Jazz – A Family Transition” on Oprah’s channel OWN. The show is a documentary following the life of a transgender preteen that identifies as a female. While viewing the show I analyzed that the people associated with her are open and fair about her decisions but the term used to describe her condition throughout the documentary is unfair. The term depicts transgendered individuals with a disadvantage because it is not favorable. It identifies their sexual behavior as a mental disorder that should be fixed. It positions them in a category that conflicts with the natural social conditions in society. “Disorder” implies that transgenders are not performing gender correctly and as a result the phrase can create social inequality. Transgenders are subjected to a diagnosis that defines them as a disturbance.
This dynamics can affect the representation of self with dominant gender standards because transgenders may feel like they don’t belong in a society that categorizes them negatively. It also doesn’t allow them the freedom to be themselves without scrutiny. Overall, I think it is unfair to define transgenders as a disorder in our society. There should be an unprejudiced representation for all genders.
What do you think about the term? Am I being overly sensitive about the issue considering this isn’t a widely used term to describe transgendered individuals?
In this 5-Hour Energy commercial, a man accomplished a lot of things – wrote a novel, learned Spanish, ran 10 miles, knit a sweater, recorded an album, etc. This seems to be a fairly non-gendered commercial; he did after all knit a sweater.
However, when compared to what a woman accomplished with her 5-Hour Energy drink in this commercial…
…the ad campaign seems much more sexist. The woman made a sandwich, cleaned the house, gave a Band-Aid, vacuumed, and changed a diaper.
Beauvoir quotes Benda in The Second Sex, “The body of man makes sense in itself quite apart from that of woman, whereas the latter seems wanting in significance by itself… Man can think of himself without woman. She cannot think of herself without man.”
The man who takes 5-Hour Energy is independent, progressive, and self-sufficient. He directs his energy towards bettering himself. The woman who takes 5-Hour Energy directs all of her energy towards cleaning up after and caring for others. As Beauvoir says, the woman does not stand alone; she is defined in her relation to others. She is not spending her energy on herself, on self-improvement, like the man is. She is passive and reactive to others. 5-Hour Energy perpetuates this damaging gender stereotype.
de Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Ed. Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim. New York: Routledge, 2003. 32-40. Print.