Monday, May 14, 2012

Feminist Frequency Commentary on Advertising

Recently I've watched many videos on a YouTube channel called Feminist Frequency that comments on pop culture from a feminist perspective. I think that I'll be doing future posts commenting on these videos because I definitely have a different point of view! The reason why I think it's important for me to view and read things like this is so that I can identify the messages I have been given from other women, whether they are fair, whether they make sense, and whether thinking the way the messengers do would be helpful or harmful to me. This post will focus on the vlogger's commentary on sexism in advertising. Many women would agree with her assessments and views but I disagree with most of them mainly because I think that she is holding men to an unreasonably high standard for behaviour that women don't necessarily follow and because I'm not sure if the advertisements are actually harmful (i.e., is art imitating life or is life imitating art). Also, I think that many women are coming off as angry, I used to be angry about things feminists said I should be angry about, but now I feel fine so I want to understand that too.

Video #1: I didn't see things the way the vlogger did in this video. She views the actions of the men with the puppies as being "manipulative" and yes they were lying about owning the puppies. So, a man comes along with a puppy, lies and says it's his, and women get to play with is this harming women? Just because a woman plays with his dog doesn't mean he'll get a date but he might just get a conversation while she plays with his dog. Did you notice that the men were not much to look at? So what is a less attractive man to do but try to find some common interest or something (e.g., clothing, a car, a dog etc.) to possibly attract a woman? Who knows if the men are just looking for sex or for actual relationships. They won't get relationships if they start off with a lie though. So in actuality, these men are so unattractive or socially inept that they have to rent dogs just to talk to women and that is really sad and pathetic! So it's the men who you should feel sorry for in the commercial (similar to the Mike's Hard Lemonade commercial in video #2)! I can also imagine that it is hard for men to be rejected so often and women should empathize with that (especially if you have had the guts to start a conversation with a guy who ends up not being can really be a blow to your self-esteem and can make you question your attractiveness and lovability). Some men would even say that women who wear make-up, body shapers, bras, and lingerie are being manipulative especially if they look very different once these items are removed. Men and women use manipulation! If I can do it then so can men. It makes me think some women may use make-up, clothes, and lingerie because they don't think they will be accepted just the way they are. Maybe men use pick up lines, bragging about money, or tricks like the men in the commercials because they don't think they will be accepted as they are either.

Video #2: This video shows a man lying to his wife about why he was staring at some attractive young women. He lies and says they could be babysitters for their child and the woman believes him. The vlogger says the woman is naive and the man is a liar. Well, I see it as him doing something natural and then lying to spare his wife's feelings and avoid an argument. In another commercial a man ripped a sweater his wife gave him rather than tell her he didn't like it. The vlogger suggested the man just say how he felt but it is difficult for some men and women to express their emotions. Maybe he wanted to avoid a fight and doesn't want to hurt her feeling by saying "You have horrible taste and I hate your gift". It also bothered the vlogger that a man lied to his wife about why he wanted to spend time with his friend but shouldn't he be allowed to spend time with his friends sometimes anyway? Come on people, even women lie about things! Well I guess unless you are one of those women who tell your partner everything but I think sometimes women lie about men flirting with them (and flirting back), dancing with other men, looking at other men, whether their partner is attractive (including the size of what's in his pants), whether he is good in bed (e.g., faking orgasms), whether he is successful, how many partners she has had and the list goes on. If women lie then so can men. Do we really want them to tell us the truth about everything? Isn't it more important that they are faithful, supportive, loving, and honest when it actually matters?

Another issue is a feminist idea that I just don't understand and that's the whole argument about "objectification" (i.e., seeing women as attractive objects for sexual pleasure). Their argument is that men should like women (complete strangers) for who they are as whole individuals not just because of their looks. I'm trying to wrap my head around why men are expected not to look, feel attraction for, or be aroused by women who are very attractive who they don't know (or even those they do know). Why should they feel ashamed of that? If a painting or sculpture is beautiful don't you want to look at it closely? If a woman is beautiful men will try to look at her closely too, some are more discreet, but they surely notice. I suppose this objectification thing bothers me because I do it to men! When I see an attractive man I definitely look at him and in a social even I may try to stand near him so he will notice me and try to talk to me. I also admit that when I see attractive men in advertisements I stare at them! There are also countless films and television shows that I have watched ONLY because they included attractive men! That's the main reason why I want to see The Avengers (I like special effects and superheroes too). It helps if the characters are also great guys but I have also ogled many villains and horrible characters too because they are fictional and I don't know the real actors personally!

Furthermore, how is someone supposed to become attracted to the entirety of a person in a two-dimensional print ad or 30 second commercial? You can only ever have superficial attraction to someone in advertising! I do agree that there is too much sex in advertising though but part of the feminist argument is that many ads only show part of a woman (e.g., chest, legs, behind, body without a face) and the complaint is that it reduces a woman to parts or "a thing" instead of a complete human being. The argument is that when people are objectified it is easier for others to treat them like things for their pleasure or desires instead of independent and valuable human beings. This is what I'm not sure of...would men be less likely to think of women as things if there were no advertisements? Aren't there men who would do that anyway if they were not interested in a relationship and only wanted sex or to look at someone attractive? I mean haven't men always been attracted to female bodies? Aren't women who have casual sex doing the same thing? I thought some feminists were okay with women enjoying sex with multiple partners without always looking for a relationship or marriage? I think some parts of certain women are very attractive and I think some parts of certain men are very attractive too; sometimes the parts actually look better on their own if the other body parts are unattractive (e.g., great abs but unattractive face, or cute face but flabby body, some parts of all of us are nicer than others because no one is perfect).

Feminism is really confusing sometimes! In Video #3 the vlogger defines sexualization as something that "turns people into objects and teaches women that their only value comes from their sexual appeal" and sexuality as "the capacity to have and express sexual desires and emotions". I don't understand the difference. If a man is sexually attracted to an 18 year old woman why is he not allowed to admit that? If men find the adult women in Glee to be sexually attractive why should they be ashamed of that? Some feminists encourage women to not be ashamed of their sexuality but the women of Glee are not allowed to appear in a sexual manner just because their TV show is supposed to be about teenagers? Their photos were also in a men's magazine so I don't understand the fuss. Hey ladies, you are not allowed to wear pigtails, knee socks, or eat lollipops now because that is infantalizing you and creating pedophiles...(groan). Are they saying that if an adult actor plays a teenager on television then in real life they must be treated like teenagers too? How do they know this confuses men at all? How do they know that without the photos men were not fantasizing about them anyway? How can the same group argue for women's rights to go topless, wear skimpy clothes, and have as much casual sex as they want and then complain about women choosing to look sexy in a men's magazine? I guess as long as it's not in print then it's okay?

Well that's all I have to say for now. I guess my opinion is that if we want equality then men and women can be attracted to the opposite sex for whatever reason they want. If someone is attractive we should not feel ashamed for looking at them as long as it is not making them feel uncomfortable and looking is not the same as touching. It is wrong to pretend to be someone you are not because then the other person is engaging in the relationship under false pretenses. But we all try to present ourselves in the best light and try to make ourselves attractive in some way which can be thought of as manipulative (some do it more than others). Sometimes there is no relationship sought at all and if women want to just have sex or to look at someone attractive then men should not be shamed for doing the same thing. I also want to note the negative language the vlogger uses to describe some of the men (e.g., scumbag, jerk) and that even though the men come off as pathetic and should be the one's upset by many of these commercials, she has so much disdain for the men and no empathy at all.

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