Misandry in the Media – part 3

May 31st, 2009 by Pelle Billing

This is the third part of my ongoing series about misandry in the media. If you haven’t already, check out part 1 and part 2.

Have a look at this ad by J C Penney:

So what do we learn from this ad?

  • Men are idiots who cannot even choose a good gift
  • Men are sexist bastards who give gifts such as a vacuum cleaner
  • Men need to be subservient and apologetic if their wife gets angry
  • The woman is always right (“every man in the doghouse thinks he’s innocent, ha ha ha)
  • Women are entitled to getting thoughtful gifts
  • Thoughtful gifts are not enough if they’re too nerdy, and not expensive enough (one man in the doghouse gave his wife RAM memory as a symbol for all the good memories)
  • Men aren’t allowed to care about the looks or weight of their wife
  • Men are lucky to be married to women (wife who’s given a thigh master says sarcastically: wow, I’m married to you)
  • All wives are lovely, all husbands are crude and selfish

What’s even more interesting is the hidden assumption that makes this ad work, namely: men’s life have no meaning unless they get their wives’ approval. The J C Penney ad wouldn’t have been thought of in the first place, nor would it have worked for the audience, if that hidden assumption wasn’t already part of American culture.

Another important dimension of the ad is that it stereotypes women as only wanting jewellery and not being able to accept other gifts, even if those gifts are thoughtful. So there is a misogynist components in there, which is hardly surprising since it’s hard to perpetuate stereotypes about one gender without adding a couple of stereotypes about the other gender.

What’s also interesting to note is that all the wives are thin and hot while the husbands look like average men. This could be construed as misogyny, but it could also have been done as a way uphold the wives’ superiority, in contrast to the men who have normal looks.

If the ad wasn’t enough, there’s also a special homepage where men can learn how to get out of the doghouse by buying their wife a diamond (while listening to the speaker voice doling out “good advice”).

Finally, can you imagine an ad being done where women are in the doghouse for not pleasing their men?

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22 Responses to “Misandry in the Media – part 3”

  1. unomi Says:

    Housewives sitting at home, waiting for their men to buy them nice gifts — you can’t blame the feminists for this one.

    If this is how one of the largest retailers in the US choose to portray women on TV, it would certainly seem to contradict your theory of feminism as a hugely powerful force in modern culture.

    Men aren’t allowed to care about the looks or weight of their wife

    I think most people, regardless of gender, would feel upset if their partner gave them workout equipment, unless they specifically asked for it.

    Thoughtful gifts are not enough if they’re too nerdy, and not expensive enough (one man in the doghouse gave his wife RAM memory as a symbol for all the good memories)

    I think you might have misunderstood this one. “Thanks for the memories” (as written on the note) is usually said when you’re about to leave someone.

  2. Pelle Billing Says:

    Housewives sitting at home, waiting for their men to buy them nice gifts — you can’t blame the feminists for this one.

    The wives aren’t portrayed as sitting at home waiting; the ad simply shows the situations where gifts are handed over.

    Hardcore feminists would certainly be unhappy about the ad (since women are made out to be diamond-hungry), but far from all young women (who may or may not be self-identifying as feminists) will be. The reason for this is that it’s not uncommon for young women to expect the perks of the traditional female gender role *and* the postfeminist female gender role. For example, a woman wants to earn the same as a man, and then still expect him to pay for the date.

    I think you might have misunderstood this one. “Thanks for the memories” (as written on the note) is usually said when you’re about to leave someone.

    I think you may have misunderstood me. My point was that regardless of whether the gift was a failure in some ways, is the wife entitled to get angry even if he sincerely tried to be thoughtful?

  3. Danny Says:

    Housewives sitting at home, waiting for their men to buy them nice gifts — you can’t blame the feminists for this one.
    Okay its really late but where did Pelle blame feminists in his post?

    I think most people, regardless of gender, would feel upset if their partner gave them workout equipment, unless they specifically asked for it.
    True but in most media portrayals of this a woman giving a man workout gear is presented as funny whereas the vice versa is presented as offensive.

    I think you might have misunderstood this one. “Thanks for the memories” (as written on the note) is usually said when you’re about to leave someone.
    A classic example of telling someone what their intent is instead of asking for it. Why assume “I’m leaving you, thanks for the memories.” instead of “Thank you for the memories and here is hoping to many more.”

  4. Jim Says:

    “If this is how one of the largest retailers in the US choose to portray women on TV, it would certainly seem to contradict your theory of feminism as a hugely powerful force in modern culture.”

    That begs the question of what feminism’s real effect in the culture is. You seem to mean that since (one or several strands of) feminism has equality between the sexes as one of its stated aims, that it’s contradictory for this kind of effect to ensue form its influnece. Thta seems to me the be a very simple-minded expectation and and a very simple-minded analysis of the effects of feminism or any other social movment. Could you explain why you think this example of midsandry and femlae-entitlement thinking in any way refutes his contention that feminism is not a “hugely powerful force in modern culture”?

    Do you for instance think that when NY NOW advocates a law that would define any violent crime against a woman as a hate crime, an obviously very chivalrous piece of legislation, that this is somehow anti-feminist? When NY NOW Washington State NARAL advcate against equal parenting in their respective states, is this anti-feminist? After all, getting men to share equally in parenting was one of 2nd wave feminism’s great rallying cries.

  5. Danny Says:

    When NY NOW Washington State NARAL advcate against equal parenting in their respective states, is this anti-feminist? After all, getting men to share equally in parenting was one of 2nd wave feminism’s great rallying cries.
    Off topic mind you but I have to say that such a thing is proof that some women’s advocates don’t want men to take an active role in their children’s lives like they claim but instead want full control over how much participation the father has in a child’s life. Gatekeeping if you will.

  6. Jim Says:

    “Gatekeeping if you will.”

    You go, girl!

    This is an example where woman’s advocacy gets in the way of the stated aims of feminism – gender equality and all that starry-eyed stuff.

  7. Pelle Billing Says:

    Now we’re approaching the core incongruency of feminism:

    Goal no 1: Equality
    Goal no 2: Always help women and cheer for women

    The original assumption was that these two goals would always be compatible, but they’re not. And that’s where feminism runs into trouble.

    IMO a gender equality movement would need to be far less emotional and partisan than feminism is; perhaps even a bit dry.

    Special interest organizations are fine, as long as they don’t pretend to speak for the whole population.

  8. Jim Says:

    Well there was a time when advocating uncritically for women advanced the cause of equality, because theyre was such huge inequality. Four things happened:

    1) A lot of the inequalities were removed or done away with, but the political structure remained and needed to be fed, so there could be no admission that it had succeeded.

    2) In the heat of the struggle when any and all new members were welcome, lots of passionate, wounded people joined in, whose real interests had nothing to do with equality and had more to do with vengeance. Any powerful and successful movement attracts this kind of person; it’s no particular flaw of feminism.

    3) Feminism morphed during the 60′s from an Enlightenment-based expression of Liberalism to a faux-Marxist “class struggle”. Patriarchy Theory, “Class Woman”, “the War on Women” and “the Rape Culture” are constructs that come out of this shift.

    4) Feminists often failed to carry out effective self-criticism, so vestiges of their traditional socialization leaked into their feminism – resort to traditional gender roles in their argumentation – Female Shaming tactics, the presumption of male dominance, the presumption of male violence (both machismo tropes), the expectation of chivalrous treatment from men and so on. In general Equity Feminsts don’t have this problem; in general this unconscious retention of traditional socialization infects Gender Feminism pretty thoroughly.

  9. Danny Says:

    2) In the heat of the struggle when any and all new members were welcome, lots of passionate, wounded people joined in, whose real interests had nothing to do with equality and had more to do with vengeance. Any powerful and successful movement attracts this kind of person; it’s no particular flaw of feminism.
    I think this is may be one of the most damaging things you list Jim. This is where you get your hateful extreme feminists (feminazis if you will). This is where you get your feminists that would rather assume the male perspective rather than actually listen to it (this is done under the compliant that since the default is male then the male perspective is already known therefore there is no need to listen to the individual joes). This is where you get feminists who conclude that since they have been hurt by men that it is okay that men are hurting or that they somehow deserve it. This is where you get feminists that seem to have the attitude that their movement is above external criticism and the wrong internal criticism could get you cast out.

    Just as with any movement (an excuse that many a feminist will roll out when called on this type of behavior) feminism, along with raising awareness of women’s issues, allows for the breeding of spite, hatred (namely racism and misandry), and hypocrisy.

  10. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jim,

    Excellent analysis, I may quote you on that at some point ;)

    What I’d like to add to the list is feminism’s poor awareness of men’s issues, such as male expendability, which effectively has led to a blocking of reforming the male gender role.

  11. unomi Says:

    This is a big, powerful retailer trying to exploit the age old role of men as “providers” who know how to take care of their women, etc. It’s got nothing to do with feminism. What kind of feminist wants to see a woman on TV clapping her hands because her husband is about to give her a gift?!

    Since we’re so big on everything US related on this blog, why don’t we talk about the recent murder of an abortion doctor in Kansas? He was one of only three (3) US doctors to perform abortions late into pregnancy after what can only be described as a domestic terrorist campaign against that profession: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/01/timeline-anti-abortion-doctors-violence

    Dr George Tiller’s death also followed a media campaign against him since 2005 on Fox News, one of America’s biggest news networks, where he was branded a “baby killer” among other things.

    So, US women no longer have a right to choose because doctors are afraid of being shot, but the all-powerful feminists have infiltrated JC Penney’s marketing department? Sounds reasonable to me!

  12. Danny Says:

    So, US women no longer have a right to choose because doctors are afraid of being shot, but the all-powerful feminists have infiltrated JC Penney’s marketing department? Sounds reasonable to me!
    I must have missed you when you answered the first time so I’ll ask again. Where is the part where Pelle said that feminism is to blame for the protrayal of men in that ad?

    What I think Pelle is saying is that for a group of advocates that so badly want men to join under the premise that they wish to address men’s and women’s issues feminists sure as hell like to leave men’s issues unaddressed unless there is a way to spin into “This issue affects men too but women are the real victims.”

  13. Pelle Billing Says:

    unomi,

    As Danny has already said twice: I never said that feminism was to blame for this ad.

    I also fail to see the connection to a murdered doctor. Even if feminism is powerful, there are other influential forces too of course – I’ve never claimed otherwise. Progressive forces are certainly needed, and a truly progressive gender liberation movement would be one that goes beyond feminism and takes a much wider perspective of gender roles.

    You seem to ascribe me lots of opinions that I don’t have Unomi – why is that? Do you feel a need for feminist critics to be backward striving dimwits?

  14. Jim Says:

    “So, US women no longer have a right to choose because doctors are afraid of being shot,”

    So there are no women who can do this procedure? Where are all the female abortion doctors? Is it always a man’s job to satisfy a women’s every need?

    And why are the picketers in front of these clinics overwhelmingly other women? There is a simple answer to this – abortion is only a piece of this culture war – it goes back to de-segregation and the sexual revolution and all that social upheaval and maddog last-ditch resistance to it – totally retrograde. but we know why they get away with it; it wouldn’t be right to beat a bunch of the fairer sex into a bloody pulp on the pavement.

    “This issue affects men too but women are the real victims.”

    No shit. A man is dead, but once again, women are the real victims. Maybe if they got their feet down out of the air and grew a set of balls so they could face down those hags in front of the clinics, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  15. Danny Says:

    So there are no women who can do this procedure? Where are all the female abortion doctors? Is it always a man’s job to satisfy a women’s every need?
    That is golden given how feminists are supposedly tired of being expected to fulfill men’s needs. Thing is Jim in order to get the full impact of an abortion doctor’s murder the gender aspect needs to be removed. When (or if) a female abortion doctor is killed everyone will be too busy in “OMFG a woman was killed! That’s violence against women!!!”

    Maybe if they got their feet down out of the air and grew a set of balls so they could face down those hags in front of the clinics, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
    Damn. Thing is they have ovaries of their own but you do have a point.

  16. unomi Says:

    I never said that feminism was to blame for this ad.

    Neither did I. Again: “If this is how one of the largest retailers in the US choose to portray women on TV, it would certainly seem to contradict your theory of feminism as a hugely powerful force in modern culture.”

    @ Jim
    Where are all the female abortion doctors? Is it always a man’s job to satisfy a women’s every need?

    This is just confused. The female doctors are presumably afraid of getting killed too.

    @ Pelle

    I also fail to see the connection to a murdered doctor.

    I could make a list of all the bad things feminists are responsible for, and how powerful they are, according to this blog. Feminist teachers in the US telling boys they are bad people strikes me as one of the more memorable claims. Meanwhile, it’s harder to get an abortion in many parts of the US today than it was thirty years ago. This despite “the right to choose” quite possibly being the single biggest issue feminists have ever fought for.

    Feminism as a political movement in the US is completely marginalised, and the people on this blog would do well to go “beyond feminism”, as the title of this website suggests.

  17. Pelle Billing Says:

    Feminist teachers in the US telling boys they are bad people strikes me as one of the more memorable claims.

    I’ve never said that. I’ve said that feminism ideology has had an impact on American schools, and I’ve backed that up with relevant sources.

    Feminism as a political movement in the US is completely marginalised

    Really? Is that why Obama has created a council on women and girls, while reciting the following feminist mantras:

    “But at the same time, when women still earn just 78 cents for every dollar men make, when one in four women still experiences domestic violence in their lifetimes, when women are more than half of our population but just 17% of our Congress, when women are 49% of the workforce but only 3% of our fortune 500 CEOs, when these inequalities stubbornly persist in this country in this century then I think we need to ask ourselves some hard question and we need to take a hard look at where were falling short and who were leaving out and what that means for the prosperity and the vitality of our nation.”

    And this is what the leader of the council (Valerie Jarrett) said:
    “The council is going to examine all the programs at the federal level that touch on women and girls and we’re going to work to coordinate and make sure that each of those programs is doing everything that it could do to help support women and girls,”

    Something that people often forget about the US is that they almost have *more* feminist organizations and government programs than the Scandinavian countries, who are famous for their feminism.

  18. Danny Says:

    Feminism as a political movement in the US is completely marginalised, and the people on this blog would do well to go “beyond feminism”, as the title of this website suggests.
    Bull. Claiming that feminism is marginalized is bull. I suppose now you’re going to claim that feminism has done nothing in the last 40+ years. Awareness of violence against women, awareness of breast cancer, etc…. You’re trying to tell me that a “marginalized movement” did that? And please don’t waste our time by backing you claim by saying that “not on the same level as Democrats/Republicans = marginalized” and that Democrats/Republicans (the two major political parties) are actually working to help men as a class. I can tell you for sure they are not.

    I really grow tired of feminists crying foul and victim in one breath and announcing their strength in the next, switching back and forth depending on which will benefit them more at the moment.

    I could make a list of all the bad things feminists are responsible for, and how powerful they are, according to this blog.
    I’d really like for you to make that list of things we say feminism is responsible for. We’ve commented on how feminists have ignored issues, tried to speak on behalf of male victims while silencing them when they try to speak up for themselves, minimize female violence but I don’t recall saying that feminists created the issues they ignore, are the ones that victimize the male victims they silence, or caused the female violence they try to justify and minimize.

    …, and the people on this blog would do well to go “beyond feminism”, as the title of this website suggests.
    This is just a cheapshot. Unomi you can’t bear the thought of someone not embracing feminism therefore you conclude that they must be the enemy. The people are ready and willing to acknowledge the rights AND the wrongs of feminism. Can you do the same?

  19. Jim Says:

    “This is just confused. The female doctors are presumably afraid of getting killed too.”

    No, you are confused. my point obviously was that, afraid or not, women have the same duty, if there is such a thing, to becoem abortion doctors as men do, agin, if sucha duty exists. Physical cowardice in a woman is just as contemptible as in a man, and women (justly) complaining of the lack of abortion should get up off their lazy asses and become abortion doctors instead of apparently assuming it’s always someone else’s job to do it.

    “Meanwhile, it’s harder to get an abortion in many parts of the US today than it was thirty years ago. This despite “the right to choose” quite possibly being the single biggest issue feminists have ever fought for.”

    Single biggest issue? Then why have they done so little of any real substance, i.e. trained as doctors and begun providing those services. They may very well fear for their physical safety; well, women can ahndle guns every bit as well as men can. Again, why is it some man’s job to provide for their physical safety?

  20. unomi Says:

    It is up to the US government to uphold the rule of law and protect the doctors who want to perform abortions, and the women who want to have them. The fact that they don’t says a lot about how much (or little) sway feminists really hold over policy makers in America.

    Can you imagine any other group of people being targeted by violent, religious extremists and then being met with this kind of indifference from their government? In the same country that used tax payers’ money to interrogate Arab exchange students over unpaid parking tickets, just to protect its people from militant extremists…

  21. Danny Says:

    It is up to the US government to uphold the rule of law and protect the doctors who want to perform abortions, and the women who want to have them. The fact that they don’t says a lot about how much (or little) sway feminists really hold over policy makers in America.
    Okay if based on this feminists have no power then men are not linked together in all out war on women. If there was there wouldn’t be so many homeless men, men dying in combat (and male civilians), fathers unable to be with their children etc….

    So feminists don’t have power over American policy makers and men “as a class” sure as hell don’t have power over American policy makers. Then who does?

  22. Jim Says:

    “It is up to the US government to uphold the rule of law and protect the doctors who want to perform abortions, and the women who want to have them.”

    Total agreement. The situation is a fucking disgrace. That may sound contradictory to what I said before, but what i mean and meant was that there should be police protection for all citizens, but that a citizen ultimately has the responsibility for his or her own protection. Police and the state can help, but that’s never more than help. It’s ultimately not their responsibility.

    “The fact that they don’t says a lot about how much (or little) sway feminists really hold over policy makers in America.”

    No. The rule of law is not something feminism gives one shit about – the statements and advocacy and legislative lobbying by feminist groups over the years in the US prove that – rape shield laws, biased child custody judgments, etc. In fact the rule of law is a completely patriarchal invention. Considering the hay some feminist groups are making off this incident, they seem to be benefiting a lot more from Dr. Tiller’s death than from his work.


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