Via Cracked, we have the five most insulting ways products are advertised to men. I’m going to assume you’ve gone over there and read the article, on account of my article will be far more boring and lacking in dick jokes. (Also, less ableist, so go me.)
5. Assume Men Are Stupid (And Proud Of It)
This is part of a distressing trend towards defining masculinity around anti-intellectualism, which is probably some of the reason why men tend to do less well in school and are less likely to go to college. See also: “boy books,” which involve explosions and boogers and Captain Underpants. Don’t get me wrong, Captain Underpants rocked my fifth-grade underpants, but I think it is a bit condescending to assume that boys can’t be interested in reading unless it is a book with poop jokes involved.
Masculinity tends to define itself as Not X: “not woman,” of course, but that’s fairly simple, because no matter how unmanly they are most men manage to pass the “not woman” test with flying colors. So it defines itself against other groups, the membership of which is perpetually in flux. “Not faggot” is a perennial favorite. And so is “not nerd.” Real men don’t care about school! Real men get Cs and never study!
4) Question Your Masculinity
Speaking of masculinity defining itself against things…
What all these ads have in common is the following argument: “if you do not buy our product, you are probably a woman. Masculine people are Not Women. So buy our product or you won’t be masculine.”
Masculinity, in our culture, is an achieved state: you don’t just get to be masculine because your pronoun is “he.” You have to go about proving you aren’t a woman ALL THE TIME by drinking some shitty-ass beer.
3) Dress Ordinary Products Up As Manly Industrial Power Tools
It’s our old friend femmephobia! Hi femmephobia, nice to see you again.
The advertisements here are either for grooming products (razor, loofah) or an iron. Both of those are feminine objects in our culture, because adornment is gendered female. But GOD forbid that men seem feminine by doing such a girly thing as removing hair or wanting clothes that aren’t wrinkly. So the products get compared with power tools and machines and similarly manly things, and all is right with the world.
2) Turn Regular Foods and Flavors into Sausagefests
Okay, seriously, what is it with meat-eaters and bacon? I tried bacon once! It is kind of salty and meaty and gross! It is not worth all the hero-worship, guys. If you have to lord your superior foodstuffs over the herbivores of the world, might I suggest cheese? Or perhaps smoked salmon? Smoked salmon is delicious.
Other than that, I think I’m going to fold my discussion of this into the next point…
1) Assume You’re Hungry for a Heart Attack
“Masculine” food, in American culture, means two things: fatty and with huge portion sizes. So because bacon tends to be bad for you, it’s a manly food. Canned soups and yogurt aimed at men advertise that they’re big enough for a man’s hunger. And God forbid that men eat something that’s diet food.
In our shitty sexist culture, women face a Beauty Myth: you have to be thin and young and cute, or you aren’t worth anything as a person. So a lot of the female population spends a lot of its time dieting. However, to be a man is to be a Not Woman, and therefore real men can’t even eat healthily (unless they’re athletes, in which case they get an exception for being manly sports dudes). They have to eat burgers and fried chicken, not “chick food” (i.e. diet/healthy food) like salads.
I remain boggled at the gender politics of food. I mean, candy and carrots are both good! One should have both of them in one’s diet! Both constantly dieting and constantly overeating are terrible for one’s health! If I didn’t know better I’d say all this was created by a consortium of doctors trying to create repeat business.