[Image: Four screen caps of a facebook group called “Vixens for Veterans.” The first image shows the timeline cover photo of five presumably white women in black underwear, fishnets, and stilettos. The page has close to 2,500 likes. The second image is the actual time line of the page. On the left hand side is a picture of a white woman in a white top. She has black hair and is making a heart with her fingers. On the right hand side is a list of other pages this page has liked, including one called “Booties for the Troops,” which has been circled in red. The third image is further down the timeline and there is a blond, white woman in the left hand column. She is wearing a blue top over a black bra and has a thick, studded leather choker on. The caption above her asks the viewer whether they would “Like or pass?” on her. The right hand column is a photo of a redheaded, white woman with her back towards the camera. She is wearing white underwear and a white bra. The forth image is a screen shot of the group’s photo section. It is filled with white women taking pictures of themselves in the seductive poses. All of the captions ask the viewer to “Like or pass?” on each woman.]

So I was casually browsing my facebook newsfeed this afternoon when I saw that a guy I went to elementary-high school with had liked this page… Out of curiosity, I clicked it and instantly started a feminist critique of it. Here’s what I have so far:

  • The page showcases female bodies for male consumption; however, women are invited to submit pictures of themselves, so they are consenting to the objectification of their bodies which is consistant with feminist principles
  • Casts men as the societal and sexual actors and women as passive receivers
  • Assumes that veteran = male and vixen = female, upholding heteronormative foundations and traditional ideas of gender at the same time
  • Defines female worth through physical appearance
  • The overwhelming majority of pictures on the site are of white women, all of whom fit into a very narrow definition of “female” or “woman”

Feel free to add more. Charming society we live in, isn’t it?

One appeared in Cosmo; it involves a man in a sweater cuddling with puppies and drinking a Molson.  It’s an example of an ad that glamorizes a soft and sensitive masculinity.

The other appeared in men’s magazines, including Playboy and FHM.  It tells readers, explicitly, that the first ad is designed to manipulate women into being sexually attracted to men who drink Molson.

The text is worth reading:


As you read this, women across America are reading something very different: an advertisement (fig. 1) scientifically formulated to enhance their perception of men who drink Molson. The ad shown below, currently running in Cosmopolitan magazine, is a perfectly tuned combination of words and images designed by trained professionals.  Women who are exposed to it experience a very positive feeling.  A feeling which they will later project directly onto you. Triggering the process is as simple as ordering a Molson Canadian (fig. 2).

Extravagent dinners.  Subtitled movies. Floral arrangements tied together with little pieces of hay. It gets old.  And it gets expensive, depleting funds that could go to a new set of of 20-inch rims. But thanks to the miracle of Twin Advertising Technology, you can achieve success without putting in any time or effort. So drop the bouquet and pick up a Molson Canadian…

The second ad, then, portrays men as lazy, shallow jerks who are just trying to get laid (not soft and sensitive at all).  And it portrays women as stupid and manipulable.

The two ads are a nice reminder that marketers count on their audiences being separate.  They can send each audience contradictory messages, confident that most women will never pick up Playboy and most men will never pick up Cosmo.  This is an assumption that marketers have long counted on. Miller Beer, for example, includes pro-gay advertising in magazines aimed at gay men, counting on the idea that heterosexual men, many of whom are homophobic, will never see that Miller markets itself as a gay beer.

So Molson is counting on women never seeing their ads in men’s magazines.  Alternatively, they’re perfectly happy to alienate female customers.  Or maybe both.


Are Dads Cool With Their Sons Wearing Pink? An ‘Investigation’

Good Morning America has gone ahead and created a non-issue out of a few Dads feeling weird about their sons wearing pink. We know how much GMA loves their panels, so they gathered a group of fathers and a separate group of little dudes to get some opinions on the non-matter. The series of questioning involved the interviewer raising a tiara in her hand and asking, gravely, “What would you say if your son wanted to wear this to school?” Dum-dum-DUM!

Luckily, some of the dads had some pretty respectable answers for such queries, like “I follow my child’s lead” and “It’s not really the point of what I like, it’s what my child likes.” There were, of course, there two fathers who really hoped that their sons would rather wear a blue shirt instead of a pink skirt, but is that even surprising?

The panel of boys aged 6-8, however, were much less divided and seemed totally cool with the color pink. GMA tested the boys’ color-preferences by offering up scooters in an array of neon colors and setting up a rack of different-colored clothing and to see what they would choose. Two of them chose both the pink scooter and pink shirts, going so far as to fist-bump over their mutual love of pink items. The kids were questioned about said “color war,” and every single one said they wouldn’t mind wearing pink. Just so long as the clothes don’t say “princess” on them or anything.

Originally published on Jezebel

Come for the Pizza, Stay for the Deconstruction of Masculinity

“A girl can’t be too upset when a guy is paying attention to her.” “It depends on the type of girl and whether she has respect for herself,” another says. “Some girls will say, stop. But they like it, for real.” “If she’s wearing short shorts, booty shorts, short skirt, with the thong showing, she wants it,” another guy says. “Can’t blame it on the boy. She knows what she’s doing.”

“But what if it’s hot out?” This is Kedrick Griffin. He’s here to play the 37-year-old devil’s advocate on a subject that’s generally considered normal behavior for a teenage boy in the District of Columbia.

 “What if all her other shorts are dirty? What if it’s 2 a.m. in a dark alley? What if it’s your girlfriend who’s wearing the short shorts?” Along with the targeted line of questioning, Griffin has also brought three boxes of Pizza Boli’s and an 18-pack of Sierra Mist. These Woodson students have been eating Griffin’s pizza since September. By now, they know full well that it’s wrong to blame a woman for rape based on what she’s wearing—now, they’re just struggling through the street harassment piece. This exercise has come almost at the end of a year-long District program called the “Men of Strength” club—MOST Club, for short. The same pattern is repeated with groups of boys in public middle and high schools across the District: Come for the pizza, stay for the deconstructions of masculinity.

Read more here.

We can’t be equal while…

Gender Roles

1. Men are the default and women are the Other (and therefore lesser).

2. Being called “girly” or a “sissy” or “pussy” are some of the worst insults you can give a man.

3. When a woman shows confidence in herself, she is said to “have balls”, or conversely she is a “man-eater”, “ball-buster”, or a “bitch” because she was “too” assertive.

4. Men are beat up, ridiculed, or made fun of for being “effeminate” and women are beat up, ridiculed, or made fun of for being “masculine”.

5. Many people get angry when a woman questions the intentions behind a “chivalrous” act from a man.

6. There are men who refuse “chivalrous” acts from a woman, such as refusing to walk through a door that a woman holds open for them, while believing that it is rude for a woman to exercise the same right to refuse.

7. Women can’t express anger without the very real fear of being accused of “hysterics” or being “shrill”.

8. Women get scolded for “un-ladylike” behaviour: using coarse language, talking frankly about sex or other “impolite” topics, confidently voicing one’s dissenting opinion, etc.

9. People continue to believe and perpetuate gender essentialism based on bad science or using actual studies to “prove” the innateness of gender roles when the study itselfsupports no such thing.


Relationships, Sex, and Sexuality

10. For different-sex couples, women are expected to take their husband’s name, or at the very least hyphenate, but many men still balk at the idea of even considering adopting their wife’s name. If a woman decides to keep her name, both partners are interrogated and shamed by friends and family.

11. For same-sex couples, people think it is okay to ask “who’s the woman/man of the couple?”

12. Women are seen as the “gatekeepers” to morality/sexuality, charged with the duty of fending off the advances of men. If they fail then they were “asking for” it and/or are “damaged goods”. Their clothing/actions will always be questioned to see if they were “leading on” the man at all.

13. Men are seen as “beasts” who are unable to control their “raging hormones” – which absolves them of guilt for “improper” sex (anything from date rape to sex outside of marriage) but also paints them as uncivilized brutes.

14. Women are “sluts”, men are “players”.

15. Women’s worth goes down according to how many sexual partners people think she has had.

16. Men’s worth goes up according to how many sexual partners people think he has had.

17.We live in a rape culture where many people continue to blame the victims of rape and domestic violence.

18. We buy into the myth that all men (even minors) are, at all times, willing to fuck a “gorgeous” woman and any man who would pass up sex with a remotely attractive woman is deserving of ridicule.

19. Wives/mothers are still expected to do most of the home/childcare, even if they have a job outside the home.

20. Fathers/husbands are seen as bumbling dolts who are mentally incapable of cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children, or any other traditionally feminine task.

21. There are significantly more stay-at-home moms than there are dads.

22. Men are expected to pay on a date, and some men expect women to put out for this “service”.


The Public Sphere

23. Men continue to be a clear majority in the government, prominent positions in businesses, and other public places of power.

24. There have been so few female leaders in most countries. For instance, in the Group of Eight:

America has never had a female president.

Canada’s first, and only, female prime minister was Kim Campell [1993].

Britain’s first, and only, female prime minister was Margaret Thatcher [1979-1990].

France’s first, and only, female prime minister was Edith Cresson [1991-1992].

Italy has never had a female prime minister.

Japan has never had a female prime minister.

Russia has never had a female president.

Germany’s first, and only, female Chancellor is Angela Merkel [2005].

25. Pakistan, which is held up by many Americans as a “backward” country regarding women’s rights, elected a female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, twice while Americans were still debating whether or not America was “ready” for a female president (here are some other female leaders who have been elected while America has been dragging its feet).

26. There are still areas in our so-called “equal” societies where sex discrimination, sexual harassment and the glass ceiling are alive and kicking.

27. It’s considered “big news” when articles tell mothers who work outside the home that they “can’t have it all”, but not so much when articles call for work reforms and male responsibility.

28. Women in the sex trade, even those who have chosen the life, are treated as sub-human on a regular basis.

29. It is not seen as sex discrimination to include harmful (and expensive!) items such as makeup and high heels in the requirements for a woman’s dress code while having no such constraints on the men’s dress code.

30. Women are still discouraged from entering the sciences by social stereotypes, lack of job availability, and the continuing belief that women just aren’t smart enough.

31. It is considered appropriate to attack a female public figure because of her appearanceand fashion sense.

32. One of the first ways to discredit women who speak up in public forums is to threaten sexual violence.

33. Women are disproportionately affected by fat discrimination in the workforce and other places.


Appearance, Bodily Sovereignty, and Personhood

34. Men’s bodies belong to no one but themselves; women’s uteri are seen as the property of men, the government, and even strangers.

35. Women’s place as full-fledged legal and social adults is not assured.

36. Women are seen first and foremost by their physical attributes and secondly by theirrelevant qualities.

37. The double-standard of beauty is camouflaged under myths of empowerment and liberation.

38. Women feel the need to undergo a potentially dangerous operation on their healthy vaginas in order to please their husbands/boyfriends by striving towards an unrealistic beauty standard set by mainstream porn.

39. It is seen as appropriate for stranger and friend alike to give unsolicited comments on a woman’s appearance: her weight, fashion, leg/armpit hair, etc.

40. Eating disorders, caused primarily by our society’s unhealthy obsession with fat, are still rampant among women (significantly more than among men).

41. There are contests like “Pimp My Ride”.

And many, many other reasons.