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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » who's sticking up for the guys?

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Author Topic: who's sticking up for the guys?
spinnersis
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This is an issue that’s been bothering me for a while now. I’d like to get some other people’s takes on it. This might seem a bit rambly, but I have a point, I promise.

Lately I’ve had a harder and harder time watching TV, mainly because of the ads. There’s the usual assortment of misogynistic beer commercials. Then there are those Axe commercials that should be infuriating to anyone with an ounce of social awareness. Particularly that one where the woman does a pole dance around a pipe in her apartment because she’s so turned on by the shower gel the guy upstairs is using. I can’t count the ads I’ve seen for different diet pills “that really work where crash dieting and exercise fail!” I won’t even go into the atrocity that is “The Swan.”

I’ve also been having a hard time with the ads that attack men specifically. I find the Enzyte commercials, the ones where Bob, the man with the maniacal grin, “gets a big new swing of confidence!” particularly offensive. I was on a 6 hour drive a while ago and there was a radio ad I must have heard at least 20 times. It was about a pill you could take if you were one of the reputed thousands of men “suffering from poor sexual performance.” What does that even mean? I eventually had to just turn off the radio and drive in silence because I couldn‘t stand that ad anymore. When I see things like this it’s easy to see why so many guys come to Scarleteen to ask if their penises are big enough. It’s enough to give anybody a complex.

I have a group of friends who were all sharing an on campus suite this past year. There were 4 women and 1 guy. We're all pretty liberal and consider ourselves feminists, we fight for GLBT rights, ect… We’re generally in favor of equality. Anyway, this one evening I’m watching TV with two of my female friends (Scrubs, I think) and one of those stupid Enzyte commercials comes on. I mentioned how offensive I thought they were and everyone heartily agreed, we had a little discussion about it. A few minutes later, my male friend walked into the room. He was looking for something and mumbled about it being the size of a peanut. One of my female friends immediately shot back, “that’s not the only thing you’ve got that’s the size of a peanut!” I was floored, we had just had this discussion and she let’s fly with a penis joke. It was completely unprovoked. I thought it was pretty out of line even for the kind of insults we usually throw around good naturedly. If he had made a comment about her being too fat or not having big enough boobs we all would have jumped on him, and rightly so (but he’s far to sweet to ever make a comment like that). Later I called her on it and she was embarrassed. I think she apologized. It wasn’t a big deal, she didn’t particularly hurt his feelings, but I think it’s indicative of a double standard.

Feminists have been fighting negative stereotypes of women in the media for a long time. It’s been a largely uphill battle and there is still a long way to go, but at least women have some organization. We have something to rally around. I feel like men are left in the cold. They’re held up to some pretty nasty over sexualized and largely degrading ideals too but they don’t have the anything to really rally around. I feel like they’re largely ignored or dismissed because they’ve been “the oppressors” for so long. But that isn’t really fair.

I feel like in this arena, feminism won’t cut it. We need a new dialogue. The fight against media stereotypes is one that needs to include all genders. It hurts everybody. I suppose one could make an argument that it harms women to a greater degree, but that doesn’t really help the issue. Besides, I think that gap is closing pretty rapidly and not in a good way. I feel like soon we’ll all be held up to equally unrealistic and equally damaging ideals.

Any thoughts?

-Anna

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The enemy is the tyranny of the dull mind. -Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirl's Get the Blues


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Gumdrop Girl
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I was ranting to my boyfriend about the "Girls Gone Wild" videos -- not because I have aprticular objection to pornography -- but I do have a real objection to making tons of money off someone else without properly compensating them. Not to mention, I'm not cool with taking advantage of drunk people.

For whatever reason, he though I was going the "women are constantly being objectified and blah blah blah blah." Not that women aren't being objectified on a regular basis, but that wasn't my point. but i digress...

Anyway, he brought out the LITANY of social pressures and insecurities that weight on his manly shoulders on a daily basis.

1. Height. Maybe some guys take this for granted, but he is 5'4" and he's not ever going to grow any taller. He's pretty much had an entire life time ot be picked on for being "the short guy," and in a society where heterosexual women seem to prefer taller guys, this leaves him at a disavantage.

2. Penis size. Okay, so not every man on this earth can have a garden hose in his trousers. So why does popular media have to make him feel bad for being whatever size nature made him?

3. Sexual peformance. Apparently, society has deemed the refractory period to be a hideous waste of time and penalizes men for taking more than 10 minutes to get back in the saddle. Well, if *I* can't go for 8 hours straight, why would I want my boyfriend to?

4. Weight. Yes, it bothers guys, too. Too much isn't good, and too little isn't good. And while that's actually the way weight should be anyway, the fact that trying to maintain this balance is a major cause of anxiety for a lot of guys negates the health benefits of being of a healthy build. Moreover, the quest of the right amount of bulk drives men to crash diet (yes, men do it, too), or to take anabolic steroids that mess up their testes, kidneys and livers. Definitely not healthy.

5. Balding. The advent of the Hair Club for Men, minoxidil and Propecia brought bald-conciousness to staggering levels.

and he mentioned several more points, but those were the big ones he had strong opinions about.

A recent survey showed that gay men and heterosexual men were equally insecure about their physical appearance. This refutes the stereotype that gay men spend more time obsessing about appearance than straight men. It's likely that straight men are more hesitant to talk openly about their concerns.

And just a quick note: liberals do not have the monopoly on wanting fairness in society. let's not stereotype conservatives to be religious bigots and misogynists because blanket statements and stereotypes are still prejudices any way you slice 'em.

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logic_grrl
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Well, people who are socially conservative are not noted for their support for feminism or GLBT rights ...

It's certainly true that there are people who are conservative in their economic/fiscal beliefs while being socially liberal, but they would seem to fall within spinnersis's use of "liberal".


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kaitjarbeau
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I'm beyond sick of TV ads where the "dumb dad/husband" does something well meaning but completely dumb, and his wife shoots him a nasty comment, and everyone's expected to break out into group chuckles like the end of a Scooby Doo episode because oh ho ho those men are so dumb.

What the crap? If the situation were reversed, angry feminists everywhere would be protesting.

And, on that, remember the Harvard guys comments which got so many people's panties in a twist?

YES THERE ARE BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMAN. Not only between our legs, but a male brain and a female brain are organized differently, and a male brain's organization is in fact more inclined to things like MATH.

x_x ack.


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logic_grrl
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quote:
and a male brain's organization is in fact more inclined to things like MATH.

As far as I know, no-one has yet identified any features of brain structure or anatomy which equate to "being more inclined to math".

Claims that there are fundamental differences between male and female brains are highly controversial within neurology, and being made on extremely shaky evidence. So presenting them as accepted fact is incorrect.


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Bobolink
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Actually, the claims of a biological difference, at least so far as how information is stored was established by Dr. Wilder Penfield in the late 1940's as a result of his work with stroke victims. There is a marked difference in how male and female brains react to the cell destruction cause by strokes. However no conclusions are yet made about how normal, healthy brains compare.

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I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

- Galileo

[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 05-21-2005).]


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wobblyheadedjane
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I will admit as a woman that the dumb male/snipey female commercials drive me up a wall as well. The worst offender for me, was one that was aired before films in theatres all the time here, in which a woman buys tickets to separate movies for her and her date and when he asks "What, what movie am I seeing?" she snarkily replies "Um, check your ticket." Ugh, so. much. HATE.

However, the brain studies in my opinion are pretty inconclusive. Sure, men's brains made be more wired towards math and sciences. However, it's always been a traditionally male-dominated field and only very recently, have there been movements to encourage women into the hard sciences. It's like the study saying that gay men's brains differed from that of straight men, but didn't prove anything conclusive towards the 'nature vs. nurture' argument - were the brains different because they were gay, or were they gay because the brains were different?

Similarly, are men and women's brains different because they're comparing a man who's been training in a hard sciences field with that of a woman in a social or liberal arts field? Then of course the data is going to be skewed. I would be very hesitant to pin answers on those few studies until more information and corroborating studies are released, personally.


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windycityskacore
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I hope that this response isn't just parroting what everyone has said...and I'm not TERRIBLY well versed with feminist diction so pardon if it's somewhat simplifed...

...But this has been an issue that I've thought about since starting college 3 years ago. I, like spinnersis, lived for two years in a suite/appartment dubbed "The Social Justice Suite" and, not only did we discuss similar subjects BUT we jabbed at each other similiarly. I've wanted to say something about this for a while, but I'm not one to start topics...

I blame the media for negative male stereotypes and this leads to other problems as well. As a male who considers himself a Feminist, I also really get frustrated by commericals, espeically BEER commericals (I suppose being sxe makes me slightly biased as well though) and those TAG and AXE commericals. I agree with what has been said, but I don't want to repeat people...I hope I don't...

The stereotype often presented in many of these ads are the oversexualized male: obsessed with drinking (with the intention of picking up babes and scoring tail), concerned with their sexual image (including performance) and, all in all, concerned only with seeking some WOMAN to "give it too." Think about it...the reoccuring pattern in these ads are that they objectify woman and use them to lure men...the product (body spray, beer, cars, for example) is secondary and are only the middle-man; using the product, as portrayed in the commercials, "ensure" sex.

Of course, we all know the strange power of the media. They are portraying an image in these ads that is both desirable and easy to attain (you get sex if you buy the product, no doye). The stereotypical image of this macho, over-sexualized guy is sold alongside the product and men, espeically young, impressionable ones (13 year-olds that are just discovering their sexual selves) strive for that--a man's man who has a large penis, is build, tall and gets action non-stop. And, as they take a shower, wonder which girl is humping the drain pipe below them.

I guess what I'm saying has been already sorta stated. I've made the conscious effort for, jeez--like 5 or six years (I'm 21) to dissent from this image of masculinity. But let's face it; this is the "favorable" male image accepted by most of our society. Some of it is engrained in me as well (such as the constant desire to be my girlfriends problem-solver and "Knight In Shining Armor" or feeling sexually inadequate if she doesn't orgasm...both of which I try to combat). Men AND women accept this macho male as desirable.

So males buy into it. They submit to this image. They see an AXE (or BOD, that stuff that looks like WINDEX) ad and say "Man, if I wear this...er...body spray, girls will want me" and feel like they won't be MASCULINE without it...and we know how much straight men fear being immasculine in our culture. *sigh*

But it's not just that! Television is the same. Although I LOVE Elimidate and Blind Date, the men on those shows are ALWAYS overly-masculine, well-muscled, tall/dark/handsome and asking quesitons like "So, how do you feel about three-somes...have you ever had one?" Of course, as ads, shows, movies, media IN GENERAL promotes this over-masculine image, they often also support a mysoginistic one that views women as sexual objects (often, but not always as it's possible to be this image and VERY respectful to women).

So, to conclude my thesis, the media has a role in making the over-sexualized, beer-guzzlin', football playin', car fixin', sexually aggressive, weight-liftin' image a positive one just as negative feminine images are also everywhere. Not that any of those things are bad...they just are part of that macho stereotype aimed at men...I have no stats, but steroid use is problem with young males in a similar way that eating disorders are problems with young females (again...I have no stats and I am going out on a limb by laying that up there). And by promoting this image, they are promoting an image that may be threatened by the feminine (in women and in gay men) and fear (or hate?) it. In effect, our media/culture supports/promotes an image of masculinty that is oppressive because it veiws women as objects, as something to have sex with or as an acquisition,

*phew!* I wrote a lot. I'm sorry. I know I repeated myself and I know there are most likely LOTS of holes in what I posted. Really, I just spilled it all out...I welcome anyone to support or reject this POV and I'm willing to listen (but not argue). In fact, I'm interested in anyone's response to this. Thanks for providing a forum (finally) upon which was allowed to burp this opinion up!

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...or is that just me being naive
again?


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lunarsynthesis
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actually, there are neuroanatomical differences between men and women. for example, there's a region of the brain called the sexually dimorphic nucleus. it's larger in men than in women, and it has been shown to be responsible for male sexual behavior in several animal species. there are also a number of other areas of the brain that differ in size and shape between men and women, some larger in women than in men, some vice versa. it's still not clear how many of these differences could lead to differences in abilities, though, so it's really not fair to say right off that men are better than women at math.
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Nicky NK
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I think the worst, most demeaning commercials that air today are the *STUPID* Karl's Jr. commercial, especially the one where a scantilly-clothed woman splays herself on a car while washing it and eating a karls jr burger. the commercial ends with the caption, "now thats hot." am i the only one who finds this utterly offensive? i mean, i dont even want to *know* what the editor was thinking when he allowed this commercial. it is more like something you would see on playboy channel or something.

i would enjoy any comments you may have, thanks!
Nicky


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dailicious
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I've seen that commercial, Nicky, and I don't know what's worse- the commercial itself or the fact the woman in question is Paris Hilton- you know, the Hilton heiress made even more famous through her Fox tv show "The Simple Life"

It digusts me how some women will horribly commercialize and degrade themselfves because of their love of fame and money; Pairs Hilton advertises herself as a showy, brain dead, arrogant "hussy" who gets money because some people happen to think she has a nice body and because she's the little princess of the Hilton hotel fortune.

TV is more and more trying to push the boundaries of what they can get away with in order to earn more business and money.

I don't see how people were so outraged at seeing a woman's bare breast on national television, but are really raising no more than finger at most over commercials like the one you described (as long as there's no nudity!).


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oldman
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The worst is the commercial for a gillette aftershave. The premise of the ad is that use it and your face can hold up to anything. The ad ends with the guy getting slapped in the face by a girl. Just imagine if say Maybeline were to try to advertise some cosmetic and ended the scene with the girl getting slapped by a guy!
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HumanTornado
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Ahh ... let me be the first to have a different opinion.

I have a huge issue with people who have lousy self-esteem and point to the media for the cause. Honey, if you think you're too fat, the problem lies with *you*, not with that half-naked woman on TV.

In all my teen years, I have never looked to women on TV or in magazines and used them as the picture of perfection I should strive to attain. I still don't. If those girls on TV are the socially accepted norm, well, then I'll just not be the norm. Tough luck.

Similarly, I have never been particularly annoyed with women being 'objectified'. I mean, they also 'objectify' toddlers, puppies and muscular young men (anyone remember that Coke commercial?), so why go up in arms about it?

Bottom line is, media is media and real life is real life. Those two have very little in common and the former should not have any bearing on the latter. Commercials are meant to sell products, not present a model of the perfect man/woman/marriage/way to treat each other that we should all try to imitate.


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Teen120
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@Nicky NK: Carl's Jr, not Karl's, aka Hardee's for those who don't have a Carl's Jr.

My thoughts on the matter: It's stupid. If the marketing mavens at those places think that all this garbage is making everyone think that if they eat that they'll have women chasing them, thats wrong. They shouldn't be allowed to do that on public TV. What do little kids think when they see that? I'm only 14, so I don't really know, but I can tell that it's probably not good!!!!!


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Heather
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quote:
Feminists have been fighting negative stereotypes of women in the media for a long time. It’s been a largely uphill battle and there is still a long way to go, but at least women have some organization. We have something to rally around. I feel like men are left in the cold. They’re held up to some pretty nasty over sexualized and largely degrading ideals too but they don’t have the anything to really rally around. I feel like they’re largely ignored or dismissed because they’ve been “the oppressors” for so long. But that isn’t really fair.

I feel like in this arena, feminism won’t cut it. We need a new dialogue. The fight against media stereotypes is one that needs to include all genders. It hurts everybody. I suppose one could make an argument that it harms women to a greater degree, but that doesn’t really help the issue. Besides, I think that gap is closing pretty rapidly and not in a good way. I feel like soon we’ll all be held up to equally unrealistic and equally damaging ideals.


Here's the tricky thing with this, and I'm just tossing it out there for you to consider as you think about these things.

The major problem with comparing the two -- how men and women are portrayed by the media and in marketing -- is that it is still primarily MEN who own and run these companies and corporations, who net the majority of profit from them, make these decisions, and create this material. So, ultimately, that makes these things rather different issues.

In other words, to some degree, a more apt approach might be, "Why are men degrading/attacking/demeaning THEMSELVES?" or "Why are men doing these things and NOT finding them demeaning?" or "Why are men using disrespect or belittling of themselves AND women to make money?"

I agree, when you're taking about how men are portrayed, it's not a feminist issue, and I don't know that feminism as a collective would want it to be: in the feminist mileu, it's not our primary concern, because feminist concerns are with women. But aspects of it are certainly related, and these are all important questions to be asking.

(Of course, I never opted into television, still don't have one, and think everyone just turning the darn thing off is a pretty fine protest that serves us all pretty well, so there's that. )

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