Last week I watched SuperBowl for what was probably the third time in my life. No judgment—I’m just not a football fan. However, if there’s alcohol, pulled pork sandwiches, chips, and/or chicken wings I. AM. THERE.
For the sake of the sport, I decided to go all out and root for the SeaHawks, mostly just because that’s the team Dan Savage roots for. It really did look like they were going to take it.
Like any other entertainment hungry consumer-slut, I was excited to see the commercials. Lindsay Lohan? I forget what she was selling, but I wonder what she’s doing right now… Liam Niesson is a BAWS. I’m totally going to watch Taken again. Always’ “Like A Girl” commercial aired.
This ad is not new. It’s been making its rounds on the Internet for sometime now and in terms of airing during this prime time slot, it seemed a perfect fit. It essentially looks at how the term “like a girl” is negatively applied to both boys and girls, and simply taking a second look at how it actually functions to undermine the abilities of girls (they can throw and walk like normal human beings, OMG).
In terms of the ever present media this is most definitely better than say an ad that utilizes the body of a woman solely as an object, muted, the gaze upon her body in order to sell perfume or a luxury watch.
Considering that the media has a huge effect on the way we see ourselves and those around us, this “Like A Girl” ad seems really positive, not aiming to hurt or undermine anyone, just simply trying to sell feminine hygiene without making you feel like total shit about yourself, right? Right? WRONG.
What’s with the outrage? It’s been pointed out by folks before me, and seems obvious that you can’t really compare the “like a girl” label to “like a boy” because if someone said to a cis gendered man or boy that they were going something, “like a boy” this would not be an insult… So you can’t have it. Because you are already empowered. We could try to re-power you with positive stereotypes, but can you just let this one fucking thing go?
Stumbling down the rabbit hole of social media outrage against small women just trying to be themselves, I was delivered to the “Men Rights Activists” or the “meninist” movement/t-shirt franchise. It’s something I’ve been aware of, but haven’t given too much clout because I remember what it’s like to be ten years old and not be allowed into certain discussions or clubs because, you know, NO GIRLS ALLOWED.
The fact that an advertisement by a huge cooperation looking to sell sterilized cotton intended to soak up menstrual blood has brought about a flurry of anti-feminist sentiments and brought my attention to a group of people that stand for the this kind of shit seems ridiculous, but I guess this is the world I live in.
I think that whoever you are, you have the right to your opinion, but when there is a group of people providing a platform for hateful, disrespectful, ugly messages like this:
Something has to be said.
Instead of giving it a name like a “movement” it more just seems like a collection of trolling heteronormative idiots who are angry with women in general, and what the Wild West that is the Internet has done is give them a platform where they can post shitty comments without the fear of any kind of consequence.
After more close observation there seems to be a deeply misguided logic that somehow blames feminism for the problems faced by men based on the idea that feminism and feminists are a) only women and b) those women specifically want to ensure that men are forever enslaved as a less superior sex and forced to bow down to their undeniable power, and like, they want you to buy us shit.
Let me take a second to clear that up: Feminism specially looks at the issues of inequality when it comes to the sexes and works to investigates the injustices that stem from treating women as thought they are less. Personally, this extends beyond the binary of “men and women” but also takes into consideration: class, race, queerness, and ability. Working to challenge the patriarchy in all it’s shortcomings. It’s intended to ensure that there is equality and justice for all. MEN: aligning yourself with this identity is a good thing.
Now, I don’t have a penis.
Because I do not have a penis I will never know what it’s like to walk around with one, effortlessly pee standing up, or what it’s like to have a sensitive sexual organ dangling outside of my body.
I also have no experience of what it means to reconcile the appearance and functions of my body with a standardized and prescriptive notion of what it means to be “a man.” I will also never know what it must feel like to not be born with a body that includes the physical attributes that are socially constructed to mean “maleness” and have a journey where my gender and sexuality is constantly questioned, regulated, and challenged in that way. However, I am conscious and sympathetic to what implications and pressures someone might face under these notions about gender and sexuality.
For straight men, I see the societal pressures they face: to provide for women, bottle their emotions, be physically strong, be a lone wolf, have masculine hair—but not too much, depending on the culture there are a very many number of things that a “real man” should and should not be…
I get it. It must be difficult to “conform to the norm”, as the kids are saying (okay they’re not saying that, but it’s hip to question the squareness of the boxes we put our identities in, kay?)
But to suggest that there is no inherent privileged given to men is simply not true. Case-in-point: the fact that this tampon ad got so much attention and objection. If men and women were really equal there would be no stigma of what it means to be “like a girl” to dispel in the first place, and we would just be watching how much of the blue liquid one pad can take and how flexible the wings are.
As a lover, fan, and supporter of men, I want to be able to talk about what the pitfalls, pressures, and injustices are faced by men but not in a way that blames women. In the same way that I want to be free to talk about how I feel that at times my identity as a woman can bring a whole bag of shit upon my house. That’s because I AM A FEMINIST.
Can we just have a conversation about this without blaming each other?
Is this really so hard to ask? Or maybe, ONCE AGAIN, I’m just being such a girl about this whole thing?