So Jack and the Box recently has been airing this commercial, which I must admit that in the beginning is quite funny. The woman claims she is going through menopause and desires a certain Jack and the Box drink to help ease her “suffering.” However at the end, Jack says she needs the drink to stop her from going “street rat crazy.”
Here is my issue with this commercial: Some Americans (I only speak for American culture because I have not become an expert and/or have lived in any other culture), believe now that woman can work that sexism is dead. Some Americans believe that because Obama is President that racism is dead. Some Americans believe that hate crimes are a thing of the 80’s now that we have accepted AIDS/HIV not as homosexual diseases only. Women are still sexually harassed at work, people still use racist language, and hate crimes are on the rise, specifically against those who do not identify as being gay and are only perceived as being gay.
We have come a long way, I recognize that, but there is still so much work to do.
Commercials that have any “ism” undertones at all are only perpetuating the problem. Those who are educated pick up on the patriarchal nature of such commercials as the Jack and the Box one featured in this blog. It is the people who are media illiterate that I worry about. I have people always telling me to lighten up about the media and I have to explain to them that the media is injecting us with messages about hate, body image, etc without us even realizing it. They try to send subliminal messages to us at childhood that saturate and become a part of our belief and value systems. The ideologies sent through mass media end up becoming vital parts of our family system that get passed down through the generations. I had a group member in a science course last term from Saudi Arabia that said to me “What scares me is that American culture is shaped by your media, while in Saudi, the citizens and their culture shape it [the media].” Not that I believe Saudi is the poster child nation for women’s rights, however this was coming from an educated man in his late 20s and I thought his point was valid and frighteningly accurate. Are U.S. Americans that obvious?
What Jack and the Box does is put women back in the box. The bottom of the box. The box that puts women under men in the power structure (Marxist theory of power relations). It’s only a 30 second commercial, but it’s message is centuries old. It actually dates back to hysteria when Jack says “street rat crazy.” If you know where the word hysterical came from you know what I mean. Only women could be diagnosed with hysteria and in today’s society the word hysterical is often only used when referring to women. If more Americans would understand the root world of hysterical and how sexist it really is, less of us would use it. Or at least I would hope…
The problem is, people don’t know. And when advertisers create their witty messages they should be held accountable for the work they produce if it is sexist, racist, homophobic….and all the “isms” out there. How come there is censorship for racism but not sexism? How come cable shows cannot use the “N” word but men can call each other “pussies” and “bitches?”
Bottom line, the commercial was almost funny. However, when issues such as menopause are so sensitive to so many women (or perhaps not, some women don’t claim to “suffer” all of the same symptoms) than we have to ask, “why are these women sensitive to this commercial?” The answer always should reflect our history. We need to remember where the word hysterical came from, why it was used, and what sort of problems it created in our society. Is it OKAY to call a girl/woman crazy just because she cries? Why crazy? Is it better than hysterical? Is it the modern word for it? Maybe we just had a bad day.
“It’s So Not Okay To…
Our panel of experts tells you how to avoid these lipstick crimes”
Picture from www.womenshealthmag.com from the beauty and style section, retrieved 02-17-09.
Last week I discussed the mediums of masculinity, but this week it is all about the girls, girls, girls! What in the media shows society what femininity is today? We have many social artifacts to examine, such as advertisements, TV, film, websites, and magazines. If one were to study these artifacts and analyze them down to only a few elements of what represents femininity in American culture, one might find it differs slightly with age. However, one would also found that over all the ages the end means of expressing femininity through sexuality is the same for all American women. Advertising tells women to express themselves sexually through consumerism, pseudo-lesbianism, and marketing oneself. Consumerism is covered by the Lip Shine Seduction video via Youtube.com from the Maybelline, and Victoria’s Secret in this week’s blog. Here we have a lip enhancer commercial where the narrator’s voice is deep and seductive sounding, with pouting glossy lips on the Victoria’s Secret model (cross over promotion, selling sex and lipstick) and the word seduction right in the name of the product. Watch the video on mute, does it not look like it is geared for men? What about this product would actually turn a woman on? The commercial was obviously designed by a man not because of its sexuality, but the fact that there is instruction in the advertisement. When the narrator tells the viewer that it is easy to use with “just one click” and a demonstration, what does this say about what men think of women? Not only does the advertisement sell men sex, it assumes women need instructions on how to use lip gloss as if has not been around for over 50 years, but it tells women that make up products are what make women feminine. Ultimately the consumer will seduce someone with this lip gloss, and have sex, and then hopefully live happily ever after. Hopefully that woman will understand it just takes “one click!” The Victoria’s Secret picture shows all of its popular models in sexual poses with either nothing on, or just underwear. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that these are some of the most beautiful women in the world. But with only seven percent of the world’s women having these body types, doesn’t it set unrealistic goals for women? And to me, all of these women sort of look the same. Sure they are German, African-American, American, and Brazilian, but they all have the same body, same tan, same pouty lip, and all have long after-sex looking hair. This is the picture of American’s largest grossing lingerie company, so how many women are really analyzing this and saying “I cannot look like that?” Not many. Instead, it becomes a medium of femininity specifically sexualized. Meaning, if men like this look and it turns them on, women must buy everything they can to look like these models. As Markle explained in this week’s reading about Sex and the City, just like the women on the show are celebrating post feminism (as in now we are all equal to men. Except we still get paid less) through expressing their sexuality through sleeping with many hot powerful men and buying $700 designer shoes, so are “real” women. Real women are forced to consume almost to be considered sexy. But the media still tells women through hundreds of diamond advertisements in the “Sex and Love” sections of major magazines, that one can have sex now with hot men (and experiment with women), but one should make it a goal to end up monogamous with a man and married. This is what I mean by the ends mean is the same for all women. When you’re a teen or “tween” you look at make up products, start picking out your own clothes, etc. Where are these girls getting their advice from? Teen magazines yes, but there is no age limit on mass media. Gossip Girl, Hannah Montana, and the new 90210 unfortunately set teen standards for consumerism. The stars of the show are featured in teen magazines in the “style” section with headlines claiming you can look as good as ____ from Gossip Girl! From a young age girls are taught to consume products to sell themselves to men. Katy Perry pretty much sums up pseudo-lesbianism because we know she is heterosexual, and we also know we have never actually seen her kiss a girl. But she sure put 16-year-old girls at Homecoming in an awkward spot didn’t she? Imagine high school students at a dance and the song comes on. Everyone screams, everyone sings and jumps up and down, and then the “exhibitionists” decide it will be “hot” to make out for their boyfriends. Always for the males gaze and fantasy, never for true lesbianism. That is all that really needs to be said about dear Katy Perry. And lastly, the Cougar. The Cougar is not a MILF (Mom I’d Like to F#$! For all of you who just don’t pay attention to pop culture). While the MILF is still a mom and probably married, the cougar is actually on the prowl. This is an older women, her kids are probably in college or all grown up with kids of their own, and she is just a lonely, rich, hypersexual female looking for a young man to again, F%&!. Gossip Girl is about teenagers. The boy (actually played by a 23-year-old man) in the clip has been pursued by a girl at school’s mother who screws him in her and her husband’s bed then throws him out in his underwear for the whole neighborhood to see. She has used him and humiliated him. But she is in power here, so this would be a sign of mediated femininity as specifically sexualized. Because she is the one with the upper hand, and sexual experience, she is seen as a sexy character, instead of the child molester that she is (remember he is a teenage boy). What does this tell women? It tells middle-aged single, very lonely women, that as long as it is consensual banging the boy at your daughter’s high school is sexy. This character walks a thin line between MILF and Cougar, but I decided she was a cougar because her husband is always gone and she is actually acting out the fantasy. Unlike a MILF who is just given the title by horny teenage boys (thank you American Pie). The whole cougar notions play into the women who market/package themselves. They have the spray tans, the fake D cup, tiny wastes, work out all the time but somehow still meet their other rich cougar friends for Starbuck’s Frappachino’s on a daily basis, and are the queens of consumerism. They have created a package of what is hot to other men, and now they want to act upon what they have created. To wrap it up, women are told to express femininity through consumerism (buy junk you’ll look hot, but not junk food, that is not hot), pseudo-lesbianism (make out to Katy Perry at the next college bar you go to and you’ll probably have sex that night. But keep your fingers crossed for a boyfriend/fiancé/husband! Oh the possibilities! Thank you Katy Perry!), and marketing oneself (whether it is now or when you’re 55, if you have the whole package and sell it sexually, you’ll have lots of sex. So buy some lube you Cougars out there!)
The picture with the woman with the lip stick lines and pencil in her mouth just sort of wrapped up femininity as it is sexualized through the media for me. This photo is from Women’s Health Magazine (when is the last time you saw a man but one of these) and is completely a one shot of American culture where consumerism and sexuality are tied together with the lipstick and phallic symbol (pencil).