February 18, 2009

The X, Y Effect

After waking from my tortured sleep, I went to work and read this article from Ad Age: Dismissed, Denigrated and Demonized: 'The Decline of Men.'

What's interesting about this perspective is that it focuses on male sexism. The article is an interview with the author of a book about the subject. He suggests that the male species is gradually fading (uh, terrifying!) because testosterone levels are lower than they were when I was born and genes in the Y chromosome are dropping. I don't really understand how that's possible, but I'm gonna go with it for the sake of the sexism idea. So besides all that biology mambo jumbo, the nuclear family is a thing of 1950s Indiana, more guys are being raised by single mothers, and therefore they wind up being losers, slackers and delinquents. Jeez, are single mothers sucking that much?

"One thing we know is that men do not feel the media is speaking to them. Men all across the country have told me that they are tired of seeing guys in advertising portrayed as preening metrosexuals, cavemen or clueless slackers -- sometimes all at the same time!" Hi, I understand this book and article is focusing on men, but think about how women are portrayed in the media. Even though women in America are getting closer and closer to equality with men, they're still portrayed in the media as either dominated or dominatrixes:

This is a Diesel Ad

Women's power is equated with the attention they get from men. We're no longer homemakers, we're sex objects. And I could argue that men are too. The Axe Effect anyone? Just go to that site for 10 seconds, and there are at least 15 sexual references, portraying men and women as sex objects and nothing else. Ready, Aim, Release? Umm that's what she said?

Today I went to Sephora at lunch. I swear that way over 75% of the items in that mega-cosmetic store have sexual names. Not even alluding to sex, like obvious sex. I bought blush. The color is (I shit you not) "Quickie." If you go to Sephora.com, and (humor me) type in "sexy," 149 beauty products will populate your page. It's all about the afterglow, the vixen, the sex pot. There is a line of makeup for NARS called "Orgasm." Seriously? Because I'm pretty sure a lipgloss isn't that great. Urban Decay has named all of their eyeshadows after sexy things, such as ABC gum (so delicious?), Perversion, Sin, Sellout, Hotpants, Rush, and my favorite, Shattered (it really is my favorite). Hilarious, "Bitches Ain't Shit" just came on my iTunes randomly. How appropriate. I spend approximately hundreds of $ a year at Sephora. Either I have a makeup fetish or sex sells. Except I've been going there for 5 years, and I just noticed the sex today. Subliminal messages? I don't think I wear makeup to get boys, I think of it as art. But I could be full of crap too. Who knows. I'm not going to stop buying it because a bored marketing person can use a Thesaurus. Then again, if the false eyelash fits.....

I work in media, so I'm going to semi-stand up for it. The people and clients behind ads are fairly normal people. We don't live in a vacuum. We're affected by the media and stereotypes just like everyone else. Depending on the product, we might zone in and try to target a select few or we might need to target the masses. Stereptypes work because they're recognizable. I'm not saying I support The Axe Effect, but anyone reading this knows what Axe is, right? So I guess the marketers did their job, right? It's a little edgy, but they're still in business because people are buying it and talking about it. The problem isn't that their ads are clearly using sex and making women and men sex objects. The problem is that we identify with the ads.

Back to the article, women are outnumbering men in college and women in their 20's are making more than men in their 20's in the 10 largest cities in America. I cannot confirm since I make less than a garbage man, but that's what they say. Men are traditionally conditioned to be greedy, selfish and aggressive, but because it's so competitive, some of them have given up. They aren't only competing against other men now. This explains the 26 year old guys we date that act like they're 15. Since the old male archetype of provider, hero, Ken doll doesn't really hold up today, and there isn't really a replacement model, it's understandable that younger guys would retreat into staying immature. If they're polite, they're "too nice." If they're bold, they're arrogant. If they seem too good to be true, they have pregnant girlfriends. What are we supposed to do?!

My parents got divorced when I was 7, and I lived with my mom most of the time. I watched too many Disney movies, but I was jaded fairly early on. Yet, somehow I have this crazy idea in my head that the guy needs to initiate the date. He should pay until he wins me over and only then is it okay to split the bill. He should open doors, help me with my coat, make more than me, and he should probably like sports and know something about cars. Yes, I seriously said "make more than me." My ex bf once told me that he wanted to be a stay at home dad. It was almost a deal breaker. I would like to be successful and make money. I would also prefer not to have a nanny for my newborn. It doesn't make sense that this idea would bother me. The thought of literally supporting a man makes me squeamish and it's illogical. I also don't want to be supported so maybe it's only fair to feel like that. I'll always have my own bank account. My generation is all about equality, so wouldn't I identify more with my peers? Why do I give up on a guy because he doesn't call often enough? Do I want a stalker? Not to mention the fact that once I win the game, I get bored. It's awful. Am I a maneater? Am I high maintenance? I think my generation is pretty confused about gender roles and dating. "He's Just Not That Into You" made a few million last week. Funny, because I'm not convinced that's the answer. It could be more like "He's Just Not That Into Trying" or "She's Just Not That Into Putting Up With Your Immature LazyAss." Meanwhile, I'll let you know if I ever find anyone that can put up with my contradicting views. Maybe we're Generation Enigma!

Neurotically yours,


  1. first of all... longest blog ever lol anyway onto the point... how come mambo and jumbo rhyme???? they dont look the same AT ALL... this makes me annoyed.

    Also have you seen the new Axe commercial? are people allowed to bite others butts on tv? i mean... even if they are chocolate.

    Also in the book im reading that susan gave me which i keep referencing cuz i like alot of things it says it reads...:
    "Girls like somebody that can give them a purpose... Girls like guys to be a challenge...Some girls think they can actually change guys. And what's funny is that if they actually did change them, they'd get bored. They'd have no challenge left. "

  2. Yea I would say enigma is pretty accurate. Let's all just find our soul mates on eHarmony or Craigslist...Welcome to now.