You should read the title in the tone of “look, look we have it tough, why is nobody talking about us?”
My nieces assembled (not like avengers, that would be awesome) in a huddle in front of me over TV and lunch. I have arrived at the conclusion that actively telling them to talk to me about feminism yields no results, but saying your aunt is going to provide free food and films means they are round every weekend. Little do they know, that my years of commercial TV viewing predicts that a story of patriarchy can only be one advert away.
Indeed it was.
It was the Diet Coke advert. Yes, THAT diet coke advert, the timeless sexy man advert. SWOON etc. I started talking about it and my nephew interrupted, “Eh hold on! That’s sexism of men” Obviously we then talked about what that word actually meant and why my response was a very firm, glaring “no”.
But they wanted more of an explanation. My niece said anyone being seen as only an object without any personality or thinking (she’s a smart cookie) is wrong. Yes. Absolutely this is discrimination and wrong. But it is not objectification or sexism in the same way women face. Not one bit.
You see it’s all about context. let’s break down that Diet Coke advert. She throws a can his way, knowing it will explode, haha, cheeky little prank. What happens next, sexy man seductively takes off his T-shirt, the girls drop their jaws and are mesmerised as he raises his eyebrow and takes a cool refreshing sip. The questions you need to ask when you want to figure out if this is objectification is simple:
Who is in control and who is powerless?
Does the person you are referring to come with a face or just sexual parts of a body?
Now, the Diet Coke ad, isn’t much of an issue, it’s not like he decides to strut over grab one of the girls and then tie a leash round them (that people, has actually been in an advert). But to answer the questions, he is in control and he has a face, he is not seen as just pieces of a body. Sidenote the song being played is Etta James (she is brilliant) however, the choice of song suggests, again that he’s in control: “All I want to do is wash your clothes, I don’t want to keep you indoors. There is nothing for you to do But keep me making love to you” *rocks back and forth and asks for Etta forgiveness*
Time and time again, I have been
asked told (by men who often consider themselves on feminism’s side) that objectification happens to all genders and it is a product of capitalism. Yes, in this case it’s most defiantly being used to sell, however no, it is not that same. This is something that is in desperate need of being understood. The use of a man is not used as pieces of a body for sexual pleasure in the same way women are used. Not just in commonality of the use of women in adverts, but the way in which women are illustrated is as submissive and as parts. That is not the same as men.
What I will say for men in this case is this; you are told to be a certain type of man – yorkie eating, beer drinking, gym going, lumberjack of a man. That is unfair and not reflective of the diverse identities that men have in the world. But I am about to say something that might shock you! That patriarchy’s fault too. Jump aboard the feminist bandwagon and you too could be liberated.
This has been even more prominent to me over the past few weeks as a new *read as pretend* political party emerges “Justice for men and boys (and the women who love them) – no seriously this is a thing, even the bits in brackets. The irony that the name of the party has women in bracket,s as a secondary thought, seems to have missed their PR peeps. Excellent stuff. Many thanks, I hear patriarchy already has that job, but who knows maybe he’s looking for a deputy.
Now masquerade this however you want, but he hates women. In an article the party leader described his work as “fighting feminism” and has written books which include the “Glass Ceiling Delusion” and “Feminism; The Ugly Truth”. The only thing ugly here, is someone who is so seeped in privilege and entitlement that the mere question of women’s justice and equality has him creating a fictitious political movement. Afraid I’ll stick to real social injustices.
Often when men’s rights activists explain what social injustices they face they come up with the following:
“Men suffer from domestic abuse too” – That’s right and that is not ok. However there is no denying that over 80% of women are the abused gendered analysis; a look into deeper social inequality will tell you why.
I’ll take the following as one:
“Men have the highest suicide rate and least likely to come forward for support”
“Men are expected to be successful and powerful and are belittled by society when they are not”
“There are more women in caring and teaching professions”
THIS IS ALL PATRIARCHY. This is patriarchy and the discrimination and social exclusion of women backfiring on men. If we fought for social justice and the end of patriarchy, both men and women (and those who identify as a different gender or no gender at all) would be free from the stereotypes and false beliefs patriarchy creates, which do an injustice to us all.
Here’s the thing men’s rights activists or those who like to tell me that men face sexism too: When feminist women talk about these issues they are talking about their experiences and their rights. You don’t get to contradict them and play some fictitious game of top trumps. When women stand for their rights, they are not standing to rid you of yours.
Go through the history books. When women got the vote, did men lose theirs? When the civil rights movement began, did white people have to start sitting at the back of the bus? NO.
There is space on the platform for us all, so rather than taking up more space than you’re entitled to, figure out the true cause of injustice and hand over the megaphone.