Orin J. Hahn has a simple message for women about men: we feel too.
Recently an ad has been going viral and buzzing through my FB news feed. It’s only a minute long, and was targeted at the Philippines marketplace but its hitting a sensitive spot with many of the women I know. It shows men and women, in the office, giving speeches, preparing for work and just generally walking the streets looking fabulous and awesome.
The hook is that as it shows every one of these shared activities it spotlights labels aimed at each sex. The man is shown in the office with “BOSS” flashing in the background; the woman is shown in the same setting with “BOSSY” instead. Looking in mirrors to prepare in the morning he sees “NEAT” she sees “VAIN”. Similar treatment occurs throughout the short video. Arguably the point of advertising is to make the product your new best friend, one that you can’t do without. I can’t help but wonder what this new best friend has to whisper about men into the hearts and ears of women.
Watching it I can’t help but see it as a man, and I wonder if is this really how women think the world is for men? For every struggle, for every choice made, does it just seem like we have only a gold star waiting for us at the end of every achievement, every little gesture?
I’ve heard thoughts along these lines throughout my life. I’ve heard it from my mother raising my brother and me on her own as she described how easy my dad had it to just leave and not worry about our futures. I heard it from my ex-wife throughout our marriage as we tried to figure out how to pursue our dreams. She assured me often that it would be easy to focus on mine later, where she was getting older and it would be even harder than it already was for her to make it through medical school.
I’ve heard it in roundabout ways from every female friend who has signed off on any description of life being challenging with the trope of “well maybe I’ll get lucky and marry a rich guy.” Heck even my fiancée after five years of knowing me says at times how surprised she is that I have any anxiety issues ever because “I never worry.”
I have no doubt that women have to fight double standards and break through centuries of traditions that keep them from having equal and fair access to the commodities of life. As I described before I’ve been invested in women fighting these challenges right beside me. I believe in equality and honestly can’t think of anything that I personally feel is only for men.
The thing that I wonder is as women pursue access to power and invest in being seen as more than “the weaker sex” are they recreating the mirror image? Is the old school dehumanizing of one sex over the other being kept alive and well? Are men seen as humans with doubts, fears and concerns? Or are all men merely the old power to be toppled?
Like every person, the cost every man pays is divinely our own. I’m not looking for a pat on the back or a poor baby you feel ugly; I’m not worried about being called names too. It’s hard enough for me to give myself permission to acknowledge I feel those things.
Every label, every doubt that was flashed in that video, was meant to carry the explicit message that We know where you women hurt, where you feel less than. What bothers me is the paired message that already is popular, that of “Men have no problems, they don’t understand.”
Every time the men against women game is switched out merely for the women against men game the deeper message is we all lose.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to know, comment below or tweet at me.
More from Orin J. Hahn can be found at his GMP Author page