So yesterday was international women’s day which obviously got everyone thinking about gender. I liked that the message of the day was more focused on human rights rather than the plight of women which men tend to brush off as bitter men hating rants. This in turn gives feminism a terrible name, however at least it has a name. There has recently been a tendency in advertising to represent men as careless, inept cave-men and all for comic effect. I understand that advertising is often a very subjective interpretation of reality so therefore it’s obviously not as pressing as the realities of sexism in the workplace but it’s still irritating.
While it is thankfully becoming more acceptable for women to wholeheartedly pursue their careers while still having a family, it is still not fully acceptable for a man to be the homemaker. I think that advertising has a huge role to play in this.
Whereas it has become unacceptable to make sexist advertising like the ad seen above, there are still brands such as Huggies who have made a series of ads which were intended to showcase how effective their products are in that even silly, incompetent dads could care for their children while using them:
By reinforcing these dated gender roles and making it seem unacceptable for men to stay at home , it may be having a knock-on effect on women leaving the home to pursue a career. Someone has to look after the children and if it’s not socially acceptable for men to do it then some women may be pressured into filling this role against their will.
It is these stereotypes that pave the way for the type of inequality that men experience while trying to get custody of their children in which favor is dis-proportionality granted to women. This has led to a series of movements in which male activists dress as superheroes to draw attention to this gender inequality :
Objectification of the male body:
Traditionally it was generally women who were objectified in advertising and I acknowledge that this still happens but it does occur with men too as this Calvin Klein 2013 Super Bow ad demonstrates:
Men displayed as sexual play things for the amusement of women has been a regular execution technique for Diet Coke, this being their most recent ad. There is a common theme in these Coke ads; middle class, employed women poking fun and leering at men who are working in more ‘working class’ jobs, as if that’s meant to make it acceptable and light-hearted:
It seems that no one’s making any progress, rather just switching roles while hanging on to the same old habits; If you’re on top then you exercise this power by exploiting, sometimes sexually, those who fall below you. If human rights are something to be experienced by all then what is being granted needs to be viewed from both sides rather than just shifting the power imbalance from one gender to the other.