Friday, January 10, 2014

Man almost emasculated by vagina soap

The Big Lebowski: What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski? [...] Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn't that what makes a man?  
The Dude: Hmmm... Sure, that and a pair of testicles. 
The insecurity of the straight man is a helluva thing:

While it's clear that this ad is "making fun of all that," it's a humour that reveals some serious issues with the way we straight guys view our gender identity.

The ad is aimed at women, clearly, and gleefully takes the piss out of the stereotyped husband who is deathly afraid of being tainted with anything feminine. Considering how many times Summer's Eve has insulted women in their ads, I suspect this is a deliberate attempt to curry favour by evening the score.

While stereotypes are by nature exaggerated, I can tell you that this fear of feminization is a real thing that is programmed in boys early, and which is difficult to eradicate. I'm not sure if it's more misogyny or homophobia that drives it. In general terms, I suspect the latter.

However, this ad, with its coy reference to the "V," is definitely assuming that a man who pretty much lives to get into the vagina is also terrified of it. The idea that masculinity is so fragile must look completely bizarre to women. But I imagine to some it is also deeply offensive.

Fortunately, things can change. When I was getting my then-8-year-old son ready for school one rainy day last year, he grabbed a flowery umbrella of his mom's. I told him, "Don't take that, it's a girl's umbrella." He responded, flatly, "Dad, that's sexist." And I had to agree with him and apologize.

This ad is not helping, though. It may mock men for being so insecure about their manliness, but the "doofus husband" stereotype also creates a culture of acceptance of these loutish traits by women. "Boys will be boys" thinking may seem harmless, but it allows gender stereotypes to flourish. Women really deserve better.

Thanks to Adland and Adfreak for the tip.

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