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View Diary: Selling Stupid Men: Advertising and the Myth of the Incompetent Male (67 comments)

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  •  Differences vary across cultures (2+ / 0-)
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    arlene, Darryl House

    And, even more important, there's more in-group variation between men, and between women, than there is between-group variation between men and women.  Virtually every study that's ever tried to demonstrate innate differences between men and women has found that to be true.

    This is why feminists talk about "gender roles" rather than "sex" (though even sex designations turn out to be complicated).  Gender is constructed. It's a social institution.  Which is why Barbie in the U.S. said "Math is hard!" But in Indonesia everyone knows girls are the best at math.

    Some roles are fun to play.  For instance, I love getting dressed up "like a girl" and going to the theater, or out to a nice restaurant.  But, frankly, I don't see much difference in my performance of womanhood, and the performance of any cross-dresser. The cross-dresser and I both know how "feminine" is played.  In fact, after spending quite a while in San Francisco, I can honestly say that some of the most beautiful, most amazing performances of the feminine I've ever seen were done by men. The point is, this is cool as long as it's all "play" and I can choose to get dressed up or not, as I wish.

    But there's a different between playing roles you elect to play, and being told what roles you're suited for.  I cook like an angel and everyone thought that was appropriate for a woman.  But it wasn't so appropriate when they found me in the garage, up to my ears in grease -- then I got a lot of insulting comments about not being "feminine".  I love to make quilts, which is, oh, so sweet.  But I've been told, many times, that I'm way too "aggressive" in the way I argue... when men acting the exact same way were simply perceived as "strong" in their opinions.

    What people do in their own partnerships is up to them, and whatever it is, I hope it makes them happy.  

    But playing happy roles in a relationship doesn't make the oppression of women in the wider world any less real.  It's fantastic if you can create an island, but however charming you find her, you cannot protect her from job discrimination, street harassment, lower pay, or any other marker of her lower social status, except, perhaps, by creating a sweetly cushioned home she never has to leave -- and what sort of freedom is that?

    Advertising emulates the wider world, not the egalitarian pockets some of us have been lucky enough to carve out for ourselves and our partners.  And for those not lucky like we are, advertising reinforces the "naturalness" of restrictive gender roles.

    Your worries about an Orwellian unisex society are premature.  Let's try to achieve political, economic and social equality first, before we start worrying about the rest.

    "If you fake the funk, your nose will grow." -- Bootsy Collins

    by hepshiba on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 12:31:48 PM PDT

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