Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Toilet Talk...

I mentioned in my last post about my birthday and the signs that were posted around campus. I failed to mention the reaction I got from them. All week, well after my birthday, I have been wished a happy birthday by all sorts of people. Strangely, however, I have not been getting the hugs that the signs suggest should be given. One person came close.

On the night of my birthday I took a much needed restroom break. While standing at my urnial another guy walks in casually and bellies up to the porecelean next to me. We did the quick glance at eachother as if to say, "I'm aware of your presence, now let's not make eye contact again until we forget about being next to eachother in this awkward position."

A few seconds later he says to me (while looking at the wall straight ahead), "So...uh...happy birthday."

"Thanks. You must have seen the posters."

"Yup. (pause) You don't mind that I'm not going to give you that hug right now, do you?"

I was fine with that...

Friday, November 11, 2005


"As to the single men, I need merely to repeat the admonition attributed to Brigham Young, 'Every man not married and over twenty-five is a menace to the community.' I asked Dr. Lyman Tyler yesterday if he would document this for me, but he said he had been trying to document it for years; he had given up, so you will have to accept it either on faith, or as apocryphal."
- (President Ernest L. Wilkinson: Commencement Exercises May 31, 1963 BYU Speeches of the Year, p.1)

As of today, I am now concidered to be a menace.

No danger at 26

I wore this shirt for the first time today. I though it would be ironic to wear it on this day. I was originally planning on saving it for the day that it would actually be true...I gave up on that.

26th B-day sign

This is the sign that was posted all over campus by my friend Erika. I'm not turning 25, but the sentiment was nice.

The truth is, I was menace since at least 23...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Not Large, But In Charge...

The following post is somewhat long. It's a five page paper that I turned in for my gender studies class to be exact. I thought it was pretty darn good for less than a day's effort. If you don't feel like reading it, feel free to scroll on down, I won't be offended.

When one thinks of media and the gender roles portrayed, one often thinks of skinny white females and buff tan men. The women should be timid, shy, fragile and vulnerable. The men should be in charge, austere, and borderline violent. This image still has its place in our world, but has lost its place as the norm in our changing society. When looking through various magazines I found a few that did enforce that stereotype, but I found far more that turned that image upside-down. The pop culture media of today works rather to empower the women. Power is taken from the man so that it may be given to the woman. Control is in the woman’s hands. This power is shown as control over their bodies, control in sports, control in work and even control over men.

I found many ads to use from four sources. Most of my ads came from “Entertainment Weekly Magazine”. I also used “Elle”, “Teen People” and “US Magazine”. In each of these the women generally kept the image of being tiny - taking up less physical space. In that, I found what I expected. What became a recurring theme that I was not expecting was the position of the women. These were not the typical vulnerable, compliant women. They were in charge. They were in control. The capstone of my findings is an ad by the Diesel Jean Company. It shows a woman riding on top of a man who is wearing no shirt. She has a lock of hair (with no explanation as to whose hair it is) in one hand and a sharp looking sickle in the other. The man on the bottom looks almost to be in pain. She is in an empowering position. She may not be large, but she is in charge. She is calling the shots. He is subject to her whims and desires. Clearly, this picture displays a reversal of the roles that we have become accustomed to seeing. This product is either being sold to the women that want to be in control or the men that want to be controlled. Likely, the latter is a smaller crowd.

Diesel 1Diesel 2


Control is the focus in many ads. An ad for Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers features a woman with her mouth wide open. She is not holding back, but opening her mouth and expressing herself as she wishes. The caption explains why this burger is going to be so good to her. “Ivette does the Ivette Burger, not just another off-the-rack burger.” She has control now. She can make the food the way she wants and no one can tell her otherwise. The sub caption reads, “Don’t compromise. Personalize.” Ivette is the authority, not the man that owns the company. She appears to enjoy it. This feeling of power is appealing. The ad features Ivette in control, not a man. There is no man in this ad. Although men are just as capable of eating a burger, this appears to be less targeted to the men.



In fact, men appear less in ads that promote the empowering of women. When they are shown, the men have become the lower step on the totem pole, the dominated sex and the muted group. An ad for a purely female product, Playtex tampons, emphasizes the putting of men in their place. The image features six young adults, three male and three female, each attractive. The men are on their hands and knees. They are the bottom of a human pyramid. Two of the men have their heads down in a submissive way. The three women are crawling on top of them, showing their new status on the top. They also might not be large, but they are in charge. The caption also shows that a woman can be in control of things she once thought she could not. “Me? Let my period get in the way of my life? You’ve got to be kidding.” A woman can now be in control of things she once thought she could not.



A modern woman can control more than her period. Ban Deodorant tells women they can “ban” anything they want. “Ban Insecurity. Ban Stereotypes. Ban Self-Doubt.” There are a dozen things banned. Each thing to ban includes a picture. The “stereotype” picture features a female boxer spreading her arms on the ropes ready for more. Another picture tells women to “Ban Peer Pressure” showing a woman standing on a scale. To make the ad more interactive they encourage women to visit a site and say what they would like to ban in their life. While Ban may be strong enough for a man, if is advertisingly balanced for a woman.



Even the transgender act of brushing ones teeth has become something the woman of today has more control of. Oral B has a new tooth brush that will allow a self confident woman to “triumph over ordinary brushing.” A woman with a perfect set of pearly whites holds up the bush triumphantly with her fist. The same assertive fist is used by a woman in an Alberto V05 hair product ad. Standing in the middle of the page in a position that screams power she points her fist at the camera, extending a finger to point at the individual. Again, the message is clear: “Now you have the Power!”

OralBAlberta V05

Oral B               Alberta V05

Critics might say that these ads only give women power with cosmetics or hygiene. This is not so. Even the typically male dominated arena of sports is being offered to women. Maria Sharapova, a world famous Tennis star, is featured in an ad for a Canon digital camera. She is in an almost cat-like pose with the tennis ball in hand giving the clear sign of the “eye of the tiger.” The heading reads, “Make every shot a PowerShot.” The power is in her hands. Those hands can be powerful every time. The cameras are promised to be not just good looking, but your source of power. “And just like Maria Sharapova, this combination is a force to be reckoned with.”



But being a force to reckon with is not all that the powerful woman of today is. She can do anything a man can. The jobs we expect of men are not exclusively that of a man’s any more. Mr. Goodwrench reminds us in a recent ad that “Mr. Goodwrench isn’t always a Mr.” A more traditionally “regular” woman, no excessive makeup or half-hour glass figure, is the focus. She has a sensible haircut. She is wearing work clothes. She has a rag hanging from her pocket. But she stands with her arms folded in a pose that is powerful, friendly, and comfortable at the same time. Some of her characteristics are mentioned beside her. “The Face of a GM trained technician.” “Knows GM vehicle diagnostics like the back of her hand.” “Has over one million hours of GM training under her belt.” Now the woman is not coming to the male mechanic to be taken advantage of. The fair and equitable woman is where all come to have their car fixed. She is not one of the guys, she is one of the girls. One of the girls that can do anything a man can, perhaps even better.

Mr Goodwrench

Mr. Goodwrench

Is it better that we have this new wave in advertising? The concept of a girl that can control her life (and even change her own tire) is not an overtly feminist concept. Enforcing the notion of being self reliant can be very beneficial for women who might be otherwise taught to be submissive. The risk however, is the tendency for America to take it to the next level.

In a day of super sizing, America seems to not always know when to say “when”. An innocent human pyramid with women as the queens of the mountain is fine. When the images change to women riding men like a horse in a hyper-sexualized manner, we have made a pendulum swing to the other direction. Currently, however, our media appears awash in both messages which share a common theme of beauty matters, whether male or female. Which beautiful gender is in control is chosen based on who is reading the magazine in which it appears and who is expected to purchase the product. More magazines today focus on female readers and therefore female products will naturally tend to appeal to the female audience. That female audience seems to be saying that they want that control once monopolized by the men. They want that power once restricted to a gerontocracy. Not only do they reject loosing their beauty in the process, they enhance it. The modern women of our advertising media take on the world intrinsically and extrinsically and look petite and elegant while doing it. They may not be large, but they are, indeed, in charge.