Let’s talk about sexism, shall we? Instead of cartoons today, I’m going to use commercials to illustrate my points.
As many people know, a lot of sexism is directed at women. So much so, in fact, that when the idea of applying it to men even occurs, people tend to call it “reverse sexism.” Which is not a real thing, but they’ve forgotten that “sexism” applies to any kind of negative, prejudicial treatment based on one’s sex. And the term “sex” in this case refers to Male and Female. (Note that “sex” is different from “gender.” I can’t even write a blog post on the treatment of people of different genders because my brain will explode from all the emotions running through me.)
Now I can’t blame people for thinking “sexism” only applies to women. After all, women were the ones who had to fight for the right to vote. And women are the ones who are constantly characterized as the “mothers” in commercials who clean up after their kids, pets, and doofy husbands. (Instead of referring you to one specific commercial, I’d like to refer you to Sarah Haskins, who once did a fantastically amusing segment called Target Women)
I would seriously recommend watching all of Target Women, since it’s a pretty amazing show.
But what I wanted to talk about today was not sexism towards Females. I want to talk about sexism towards Males, because apparently there isn’t enough talk about that. For starters, the above “Doofy Husbands” sketch is pretty good. It shows sexism toward men and women alike. But even that isn’t as bad as these (Please watch, no matter how painful):
Going backwards, I want to address Carl’s Jr. first. (Known in some states as Hardee’s, for some reason)
Carl’s Jr. capitalizes on the phrase “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” Carl’s Jr. insults both men and women equally, as can be seen in this commercial. (The woman is characterized as the good cook, implying she would be cooking FOR her doofy boyfriend, as well as someone who likes “furry toilet seat covers” because…ew) Yet somehow they still have customers. But, again, I don’t want to talk about the sexism towards the “girlfriend” in this commercial. I want to talk about “Without us, some guys would starve.” Now, to be fair, it says “some guys” and not “all guys.” Big whoop. Carl’s Jr. is constantly portraying men as useless oafs who can’t do “feminine” things like cook (or even crack an egg!) and who need to prove their masculinity by eating huge, greasy, drippy things on buns.
Then there’s the new Dr. Pepper. Where to start?
I talked earlier about the impossible, insulting standards the fashion industry sets for women. But what about the standards set for men? Men are constantly being challenged to prove their “manliness.” In Carl’s Jr. commercials, as well as soda commercials, and numerous other ads. Naturally diet soda was for women, so Dr. Pepper decided to come right out and say “Look men, this is who you should be! Rugged, outdoorsy, manly. This is how we relate to you. With an unclean, ridiculous-looking stereotype that is somehow supposed to appeal to your inner man and make you drink diet soda which tastes no manlier than any other soda.” (I haven’t tried it, but it isn’t hard to guess).
What is manly? We’ve already discovered what ads think “womanly” is. Despite the leaps and bounds women have made in the fight for equality, we are still portrayed as the wives and mothers who clean and do laundry and smile at the antics of their families. And men? Men don’t get it any better. “Be manly” the ads say. “Have a wife and children, never cry, eat tree bark, love meat, have muscles in places where there shouldn’t even be muscles. And if you don’t do that, well you’re just not a man, are you?” This is ridiculous. Every time a commercial, or anyone really, challenges a man to be “manly,” they are being sexist. Plain and simple. Any time someone challenges a person or group to conform, it is deplorable. Frankly, advertising companies should be ashamed. But they’re not, because they have money. I just think ads are a good litmus test for how far humanity really has progressed. The day we stop seeing ads like those featured above is the day that maybe we have finally taken a step forward. Oh and I’ll leave you with this one, just in case you weren’t angry enough at Dr. Pepper:
Have a comic!
Word of the Day: Deplorable (adj) – 1. Causing or being a subject for grief or regret; lamentable. 2. Causing or being a subject for censure, reproach, or disapproval; wretched; very bad.