Man Bashing in Advertising Watch

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Mere men

September 4, 2003

Males are increasingly portrayed in the media as either incompetent, repressed or villains. Are they the new victims of gender stereotyping? Andrew Bock reports.
Riding on the back of his fine Arab or Valiant charger, the hard-fighting, tough-talking macho man still saves the day fairly regularly. But in media targeted at women, stereotypes are more likely to depict men as bungling, incompetent, fall guys in the workplace — and in relationships.
Negative images of men are prevalent in advertisements, news, television drama and films. Their effect? Blokes are starting to mobilise with rumblings of complaint.
The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB), one of the few organisations that measures gripes about stereotypes in the media, reports a steady increase in the percentage of men (now more than one third) complaining and one of their most frequent grumbles is about the way men are portrayed. In the first six months of 2003, 29 per cent of complaints about sexual discrimination in advertising were from men.
A survey conducted for the ASB in 2002, revealed that while 40 per cent of all complainants thought women were portrayed offensively, 23 per cent were offended by the depiction of men. The ads that appalled focus groups — both women and men — were those that showed men as “buffoons” or “idiots”, according to the researcher, Dr Debora Harker.

Paul Rees-Jones, director of strategic planning at George Patterson Bates advertising agency, said advertisements that ridiculed men had been around for 10 to 15 years. Recent examples include the himbo in Diet Coke ads, the idiot in Coon light cheese, and the selfish father and son in a Kraft cheese advertisement. A television advertisement for Just Jeans recently showed a man cowering from a spider until a woman saves him. Rees-Jones said staff had dubbed the genre, “the Homer Syndrome”, in dishonour of the hapless Homer Simpson.
John Marsden, the best selling adolescent fiction writer, and author of the non-fiction books Secret Men’s Business and The Boy You Brought Home, says teenage boys are also among the most maligned group in our society. “They are more maligned than any other age group and gender. The media portrays them as either drug-crazed, illiterate, unemployable, suicidal, failing at school, sex criminals or vandals. So adults tend to treat them more suspiciously and that causes them (unconsciously) to become angry or frustrated or alienated.”
Then there’s the pairing of the bumbling male and the confident woman. While this stereotype is as old as the first approach made by a nervous man to a beautiful woman, it has become much more prevalent in recent years. “There are many shows that portray boys being incompetent or stupid in relation to girls. It’s such a boring, tired old joke about boys. And I think it damages their confidence,” said Marsden.
In The Secret Life of Us, female characters like Claudia Karvan’s Alex, tend to be more forthright in relationships, inevitably morally right, and more organised than the often confused and defensive, sensitive male characters like Evan. “I should feel guilty about feeling guilty,” he declared in a recent episode.
Men prefer to cop jokes and criticisms on the chin but an increasing number are becoming disgruntled if not offended by some stereotypes.
Colin Bailey, 33, says he stopped watching television two years ago “because of all the shows that just show men trying to appease women. Even shows like Malcolm in the Middle, Everybody Loves Raymond and Gilmore Girls. And once you realise that bias is in them, you can’t watch them. It’s as if men don’t make decisions in this society. They’re like boys who do as they’re told.” Bailey said his mates used to chide him until he challenged them to look for the bias.
If programs often portray men as repressed, they equally often show empowered women expecting and asking more from men.
Popular sitcoms like Sex and the City, feature women avidly browsing for men, assessing them over coffee, and, sooner or later, moving on out of disappointment. Unlike the men, the heroines rarely get dumped or criticised by their partners. And the show almost encourages women to play the field with a more detached and critical approach. The men are either rich, “Mr Bigs”, nice, patient, sensitive guys, or else “toxic bachelors” and “himbos” with all manner of bad habits in bed.
Candace Bushnell said of the series spawned by her book: “It changed the way women look at themselves and the way they look at men. I see it as a subtle feminist tool, a stealth bomber, a secret feminist message.”
Another theme is the idea that women have been too self-sacrificing or too servile towards men and not focused enough on their own pleasure. In The Bride Stripped Bare, a diary of an Australian woman’s adultery, currently on best seller lists, author Nikki Gemmell partly justifies her increasing infidelity by asking, “Why are (women) so focused on everyone else’s pleasure at the expense of their own? What happens if they try to live selfishly?” Her presumption is that men do not also sacrifice or repress their desires, and that self sacrifice is not an Anglo Saxon, post-Christian, and even, Australian character flaw.
In a latter day form of witch-hunting, the mere word of a woman, and the possible infidelity of a man, is enough to make headlines, whether for Shane Warne or Bill Clinton. In sitcoms, men are sometimes regaled for not wanting enough sex. In the media, men are charged with wanting too much sex.
Shows like Buffy, Angel, Charmed, and Alias — despite repeating a Hollywood formula of violence against the ugly — have attained feminist approval because they display women’s power over men. There are female villains, and supportive men, but the balance is skewed in favour of female heroines and male villains. “(Female) slayers are rising everywhere,” announced Buffy in the final episode of the last series after she and her sisters, with the help of a few men, fought off a horde of male vampires from hell.
The question is whether images of evil men and (counter) attacking women are having an influence on attitudes and relationships. Are they likely to make women more suspicious of men or to encourage women to attack like Buffy the Vampire Slayer if men appear out of line?
Another issue is whether such images increase male resentment and erode their self-esteem. A theory is that the print media may contain more prejudicial generalisations about men partly because women dominate the writing field about relationships and because in an article, unlike a drama, there is no dialogue and, therefore, less need to paint even half-real male characters.
Dr Kerry Hempenstall, senior lecturer in psychology at RMIT University, asks “when does positive discrimination towards women, lead to negative impacts for men.”
Criticism of female stereotypes and what they implied about men’s attitudes, was an important platform of early feminism. It would be more than ironic if men were criticised for questioning current media stereotypes of men and relationships.
The other option for men, and one they seem to prefer, is to change the channel or turn the page and tune in to the relatively uncontested battles of sport.

I was reading something in the paper the other day about men getting fed up with man bashing adverts portraying men as morons, wimps, incompetent etc, and I would like to get some views from both sides of the field. The above is not the article I was reading but I stumbled upon it while researching for this thread.

And I myself agree with most, but not all, of this particular article. I do find it to be quite disturbing, this culture of man bashing. The advert that disgusts and disturbs me most is that beer advert where the g/f pours beer all over the house (including in the toilet) and watches as the man licks it all up.

The original article I read was in the Daily Mail sometime in the last 2 weeks. This article is, I think, American but that does not make it any less reliable. I am refering the to the refering of, what I belive, to be an American agency, the ASB (Advertising Standard Bereau)

I have searched the forum and found no previous threads on this topic but any links to previous threads would be most welcome as well as any cuts from articles you may have read both supporting or not supporting the idea that there is a culture of man bashing within advertising, or any other articles which claim men are being to sensitive and should just accept it.
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Beekeeper
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Meh, the kind of men that are usually 'bashed' in these adverts are the idiots anyway- the stereotypical 'man' who will do anything to fit in.

I doubt most women would associate the more sophisticated, educated man with licking beer out of toilets- I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.
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(Original post by Beekeeper)
Meh, the kind of men that are usually 'bashed' in these adverts are the idiots anyway- the stereotypical 'man' who will do anything to fit in.

I doubt most women would associate the more sophisticated, educated man with licking beer out of toilets- I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.
I very much doubt that even the ill-educated, unsophisticated men would lick beer out of a toilet or off of a muddy floor, another portion of the ad.
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Amnesia
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Unfortunately, it has become a popular thing for advertising companies to do. They always seem to portray the man as an idiot and the woman as really smart and intelligent. It is not a great thing for our young boys to be growing up watching. One of the problems is that as well as women, there is a large proportion of wimpy men who actually enjoy these adverts as well.
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(Original post by Amnesia)
One of the problems is that as well as women, there is a large proportion of wimpy men who actually enjoy these adverts as well.
lol, what on earth are you blithering on about? How do you know 'a large proportion of wimpy men' enjoy these adverts? :rofl:
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Amnesia
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Because of the lack of complaints from men about these sort of adverts, compared to the amount of complaints that similar adverts towards women receive. Also, from my personal experience when I have seen men laughing and joking about these sort of adverts. As I said before it has become the popular thing to do not just in adverts, but also on tv shows and in movies. And instead of promoting real men on tv, the ideal nowadays seems to be some metrosexual wimpy man. In my opinion the real challenge is to convince men themselves that these adverts are damaging.
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(Original post by Amnesia)
Because of the lack of complaints from men about these sort of adverts, compared to the amount of complaints that similar adverts towards women receive. Also, from my personal experience when I have seen men laughing and joking about these sort of adverts. As I said before it has become the popular thing to do not just in adverts, but also on tv shows and in movies. And instead of promoting real men on tv, the ideal nowadays seems to be some metrosexual wimpy man. In my opinion the real challenge is to convince men themselves that these adverts are damaging.
Uhm, what is a 'real man' then? :rolleyes: And do you have any statistics, or in fact anything at all to back up your vague opinions, other than your 'personal experiences'? Lets face it, none of us could give a flying **** about your 'personal experiences'- not in D&D anyway.
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Apagg
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If you take that stance on these kind of adverts, then presumably you also feel that any advert in which a woman does something remotely sexual portrays all women as sex starved nymphomaniacs?
Get over it, if you find it such a threat, don't watch them. At no point have I felt inclined to lose muscle (Mr Muscle adverts), lick beer from the floor (that advert, ironically, was first deemed offensive to women) or simulate any of these "dangerous" adverts.
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(Original post by Apagg)
If you take that stance on these kind of adverts, then presumably you also feel that any advert in which a woman does something remotely sexual portrays all women as sex starved nymphomaniacs?
Get over it, if you find it such a threat, don't watch them. At no point have I felt inclined to lose muscle (Mr Muscle adverts), lick beer from the floor (that advert, ironically, was first deemed offensive to women) or simulate any of these "dangerous" adverts.
Hear Hear!
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Amnesia
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(Original post by Beekeeper)
Uhm, what is a 'real man' then? :rolleyes: And do you have any statistics, or in fact anything at all to back up your vague opinions, other than your 'personal experiences'? Lets face it, none of us could give a flying **** about your 'personal experiences'- not in D&D anyway.
Let me guess you are one of those metrosexual wimpy men who enjoys these sort of adverts. I can tell you that real men are not usually the sort of men we see on tv. Real men are not stupid, wimpy, bad fathers, always sucking up to women and being bossed around by women. Now if you are seriously trying to claim that you have never seen men portrayed like this you are either blind or don't watch much tv. There are a huge amount of articles regarding this on the internet, one of which is presented on this thread, go and do some research yourself instead of expecting me to spoon-feed you everything.
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Apagg
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Real men read "Nuts" or "Loaded", drink beer constantly, belch at each other and swear loudly, right?
Or are real men like John Wayne, hard shooting, hard talking sons of *****es?

Hmm?
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Amnesia
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(Original post by Apagg)
Real men read "Nuts" or "Loaded", drink beer constantly, belch at each other and swear loudly, right?
This is what a lot of modern adverts are trying to tell us.
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Come then, since you're so wise, what are "real" men? Perhaps they simply don't conform to any stereotype, and so any advert can represent some small portion of the male population?
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Amnesia
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Go and watch some adverts and you will see that there are a number of common stereotypical men that often appear. These men are often stupid, helpless, poor fathers, unintelligent, wimpy, scared of women, sex-crazed, louts etc etc. On the other hand I consistently see women portrayed as intelligent, caring, thoughtful, helpful, superior to men etc etc. Very rarely do I ever see any advert that shows any positive qualities associated with men. I am not saying that there one ideal man that I can identify, but I can tell you for certain that the ideal man is not the sort of man that we often see on television and especially in the adverts.
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Certainly men in American advertisements are portrayed as complete dunderheads, generally incapable of wiping their own backsides without female supervision.

Mind you, they may have a point.
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(Original post by darkfairy)
Have you seen the advert about the Mint card with one one side of the world a Chinese guy (in the UK) and on the other side in America there was a blonde girl, and the voice over was something like "when something intelligent happens on one side of the world, something really stupid happens on the other side", where the blonde girl is shown to be cleaning windows and leans into an empty window frame and falls out.
This advert implies:
-Men are more intelligent than women
-Chinese people are more intelligent then English people
-People in America are dumber than people in the UK.

It's stereotypes, but exaggerated and for a comedy effect and I think the mint card advert is a bit like the beer advert where the guy is licking up beer from the toilet, but it's funny and people don't take it seriously.
Wasn't there another where a guy did pull ups in a door frame and smacked his head? (I'm pretty sure he was Asian, too) I don't think it's neccessarily stereotypes they're playing on, just humour.
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To be honest, I don't feel any more related to other people of my gender than I do to a watermelon (both it and myself being largely composed of water).

Either way, if this is the intention, then it's only the advertisers (who I assume must be female) showing their own insecurities. Rather pathetic really.
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(Original post by Amnesia)
Go and watch some adverts and you will see that there are a number of common stereotypical men that often appear. These men are often stupid, helpless, poor fathers, unintelligent, wimpy, scared of women, sex-crazed, louts etc etc. On the other hand I consistently see women portrayed as intelligent, caring, thoughtful, helpful, superior to men etc etc. Very rarely do I ever see any advert that shows any positive qualities associated with men. I am not saying that there one ideal man that I can identify, but I can tell you for certain that the ideal man is not the sort of man that we often see on television and especially in the adverts.
You also get adverts that negatively portray women - any advert for Heat magazine, or whatever it is, where women go insane trying to get a magazine. The Subway advert with the overly possessive woman. There are plenty.
Ad companies aren't trying to attack men, they're trying to make noticeable adverts.
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(Original post by LibertineNorth)
To be honest, I don't feel any more related to other people of my gender than I do to a watermelon (both it and myself being largely composed of water).
Same.
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(Original post by Apagg)
You also get adverts that negatively portray women - any advert for Heat magazine, or whatever it is, where women go insane trying to get a magazine. The Subway advert with the overly possessive woman. There are plenty.
Ad companies aren't trying to attack men, they're trying to make noticeable adverts.
There are far less adverts that portray women negatively than men. It is an unfortunate fact that a very large proportion of high-street consumers are women and therefore these male-bashing adverts are aimed to appeal to them. Believe me if there was an advert of a woman licking a toilet the advert would be taken off the air after one showing.
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