Sunday, August 23, 2015

#LikeAGirl Part 1: Sexist Campaign?

At the Super Bowl 2015, an ad known as “#LikeAGirl” was aired for the first time. Since this initial airing, it has been reported as “groundbreaking” and “redefining” what it means to be a girl. If this is “groundbreaking” and “redefining” then what labels do we give to the group of feminists who said these exact same claims 50 years ago? It was 50 years ago that feminism took to the streets of America to “redefine” what it meant to be a wife and mother and made a “groundbreaking” change when they successfully pursued so many women to abandon their posts at home for careers instead. So how is this commercial noted as such a revolutionary message that speaks for girls against society so many decades later? It’s a feminist lobbyist lie. Feminists have had major influence on society and women are just as much of “society” today as men are.

Let’s start with “Always is a company that sells products for females. Why should they care about boys?” Well that’s just not true.
Always is a brand of the business Procter & Gamble which also owns Gillette so they actually should be more of a gender-neutral company. They’ve been running the “Like A Girl” commercial for 6 months and have yet to debut any campaign for young boys. It is true though, that the Vice President of the company in charge of the Always brand is a woman.

Secondly, one of the most important things to note here is that it debuted during the Super Bowl. If this commercial wasn’t directed at boys then advertisers made a fundamental mistake here which is hard to believe considering how much money and research they put into it.
The average price of a Super Bowl ad is $4.5 million. The Super Bowl itself notoriously and historically has the largest male TV audience for any program year-round.  Women of all ages spend more time than their male counterparts watching TV but the numbers change regarding football. Almost three quarters of men (73%) and over half of women (55%) claim they watch football regularly. Look at the Super Bowl and both numbers increase but men (at 83.1%) are more likely to actually watch whereas women (at 70%) plan to watch.

Now, some argue “Why shouldn’t men have to see this commercial? It makes women
feel bad to treat their female sexuality as shameful or secret.” Sure, but can we then talk about the shamefulness and secrecy of what’s considered to be men’s sexuality and puberty? Elissa Stein, a feminist author, wrote that such advertising wasn’t always allowed on TV at all and that this ad is about “being a girl or a woman who has a period, and that’s okay.” A U.S. Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit in 1979 brought an end to the National Association of Broadcasters' ban on TV and radio ads for condoms. But it wasn't until AIDS spread rapidly in the 1980s that condom commercials became more common. Today, some major TV networks and cable stations still will not air them, while others will with restrictions.” These restrictions usually include only being allowed to air after a certain time in the late evening (usually 11pm). The 5 fields with ad limits are Tobacco, Condoms, Pharmaceutical Drugs, Alcohol and Junk/Fast Food. One of these pertains specifically to male sexuality and puberty while none of these pertain to female sexuality or puberty. In addition, the 1 field that does pertain to male sexuality is undoubtedly aired the least. “The first tampon brand to advertise on television was Rely, which started airing ads in two test cities (Rochester, NY, and Fort Wayne, IN) in July 1975. When Proctor and Gamble wasn't bombarded with protests for their audacity, Playtex quickly followed suit with competing commercials.”  The biggest obstacle a tampon commercial has faced since then is in 2010 when Kotex’s commercial was banned by major networks for using the word “vagina”. “Even when the company substituted "down there" for vagina, two of the networks still wouldn't run the ad, so the company was forced to drop the idea altogether. That provoked Amanda Hess, author of The Sexist blog, to observe: ‘Now, the commercial contains no direct references to female genitalia – you know, the place where the f**kingtampon goes.’” Typical feminist sexist reaction. This “campaign” was done after looking closely at data that found that “girls experience a significant drop in self-confidence when they hit puberty”. While there is no doubt about this, the true concern is whether or not boys were even included in this data? Were boys found to have high self-confidence when they hit puberty or were they just ignored because they don’t purchase at the high rate that girls do after watching commercials? “Most estimates say that women account for between 2/3 and 80% of U.S. consumer spending.” With all of this “groundbreaking” thought towards girls and their self-confidence during puberty, has anyone even dared to mention what happens to boys’ self-confidence when they hit puberty? In addition to new growth and hair (which can be difficult especially concerning underarms), boys go through a change in their voice, develop an Adam’s apple and develop acne. Those are some quite obvious signs of change. This means every time a boy goes through puberty, he is physically exposed as going through this transition and he cannot hide it. While boys’ vocal chords are developing, they can even sometimes wake up with a croak and cracking in their voice instead of talking normally in the transition. If these changes weren’t enough, there is also a physiological and chemical change that makes them fully aware of 2 things: 1) How much their female counterparts have also developed. 2) How much their body is aching (yes, literally aching) for a sexual release. Boys are considered capable of procreation upon their first ejaculation, which occurs about one year after the testicles begin to enlarge… Erections, too, are unpredictable during puberty [involuntary]. They may pop up for no apparent reason—and seemingly at the most inconvenient times, like when giving a report in front of the class.” When boys get sexually excited, the main sign is that they get an erection. When girls get sexually excited, there is no main sign but more subtle ones. This again exposes males and their vulnerability during puberty before they have gotten a chance to get a hold on things. Some boys even experience wet dreams where they ejaculate in their sleep. Do boys get any kind of understanding, sympathy or campaigns for their troubles? Indignant mothers and teen girls rally against boys and berate them for their puberty, telling them that they need to learn to“not see females as sexual creatures”. How is that supposed to even be possible when they are heterosexual and how can they control something that is involuntary and genetic? Not only do these boys have no avenue for a release but they can’t even notice their female peers’ attractiveness when on full display. In addition, when discussing a personal release for boys without girls involved, they are told such horrible lies as it will “damage your health: it can cause cancer, give you a sexually transmitted infection, affect your eyesight, or make you go mad. It causes hair to grow on your palms or any other part of your body, and it stunts your growth.
Talk about being shamed for going through puberty! Is anyone offering these young boys solutions or are they just yelling limitations at them? Compared to “you run/hit/throw like a girl” it doesn’t seem like girls are really more shamed for their puberty than boys. There is also a question of what doing anything “like a girl” has to do with female puberty other than the fact that this ad was sponsored by a company that sells products relating to female puberty. Further commercials from this campaign give messages like “girls are unstoppable”, blaming society for stopping women from making achievements. This begs the question, where are these girls parents? Why aren’t there parents teaching them to deal with these issues? Aside from this, there are more women in high-ranking jobs in society today than ever before. How did these women get there if they were “stopped by limitations of social norms”? In this same commercial, girls are shown physically destroying paper boxes with their “limits” written on the front. Will there ever be such a commercial with young boys being allowed to physically destroy things to get out their aggression, or is this something we wouldn’t want to teach them? Will there ever be such a commercial with young boys being allowed to publicly write their fears and limits for society to see or will we keep shaming them and making them hide in the dark?

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