I wanted to write about orgasms today. I hoped to finally post the orgasm advice article that’s been sitting in my post queue for two weeks. But the net is aflutter with more pressing things than pleasurable chemically induced sensations. (Still want to read about orgasms? OK, here you go.)
I mentioned the awful Sex Really ad in my Sex Tech conference review on Monday. Now that video is making the rounds and earning labels like ineffective, negative stereotype promoting and misogynistic. I agree with all except the last one.
The video is pure misandry. (The organization is not, though.) Yeah, the guys in the video spit disrespectful words about women, but the message is that men are assholes. And not in some sly way. The end tagline is literally: “Guys are a@#$%^&. Be Safe. Every time.”
What’s interesting about the collective female ire is that similar messages have generated relatively little discussion. Anyone remember the Trojan Evolve Ad campaign?
The underlying point is well taken: men uninterested in using protection are pigs. But all men? I understand the ad would be less dramatic if the bar wasn’t filled with pigs, but the idea of men as inherent, selfish jerks is so culturally embedded that few people noticed. I searched around on female-written blogs and the only mentions fail to address the misandry. A post on Writing Evolution touches on the bias, one guy on Myspace felt pretty pissed, and Tracy Clark-Flory, one of the writers discussing the Sex Really ad this week, called the Trojan ad out on Salon.
(The sex-drive gender bias in advertisement nothing new, especially in condom ads. Men only want sex because the little head controls the big one, right? For more on this, check my review of sexism in a series of French condom PSAs.)
What gives feminist women? Why do we say so little on this topic yet espouse ideals of gender equality? Sometimes I feel like we train our lenses so hard on women’s issues that we stop caring about larger issues of gender. Or that we want someplace to direct our anger and so we displace it on guys.
Men feel the sting. This is probably why the awful Dodge Charger Superbowl ad rang true with so many men.
Yes, the ad is dumb. But many, many guys resonated with the frustrations voiced over blank stares. I think some men (I don’t know how many, we need a poll on this) feel attacked and unsettled by shifting gender relations. Many men are losing their jobs, falling back in the educational race and seeing images of themselves as oafish, incompetent idiots. Especially post-marriage.
You haven’t seen this? Take it away Sarah Haskins:
None of this is meant to belittle the adversity faced by women. We’re still arguing over rights to our own bodies. We still earn unequal pay. We still suffer from shitty body image and awful anxieties about our sexuality. And in the post-women’s rights movement era it sometimes feels like all we gained was a new set of expectations on top of the old. (Imagine life in a country that hasn’t made progress in women’s rights.) Natalie Kuhn‘s response to the Dodge Superbowl ad pretty much sums it up:
There is a burgeoning movement against misandry. One website called Fathers and Husbands seeks to encourage boys to grow into solid male figures and strive for “male excellence” by providing positive representations of men in media. Another site called Misandry News collects news bits from around the internet and offers support forums and resources for men. Overall, pretty positive.
But a site connected to Misandry News, called Antimisandry, is filled with unapologetic feminism bashing. In the same way some feminist blame female inequality on an outside group (guys), Antimisandry points the finger at feminism. I’m seeing some parallels here.
Stop the hate, in both directions. If we want to stand for gender equality, we have to fight for equality for all genders. We must ally ourselves with other humanist gender-focused groups. Be sympathetic with each other and learn to differentiate between harmful gender norms (sex-driven Neanderthals parading as men) and neutral gender norms like gender associated colors or clothing. (Putting a baby girl in a pink frilly outfit will not scar her for life. Make-up is fun not inherently oppressive.)
At the Sex Tech Conference where Sex Really presented, one of the youth presenters told us that we must “talk with kids about sex, not at them.” Maybe we should take a cue with gender relations. Talk with each other, not at each other.
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