Throughout the advertising world there are several target audiences: children, mum’s, busy working families and animal lovers. But one thing remains the same in most cases – you will find a very, very skewed version of manhood displayed in these advertisements and the wider film industry. There has been, over the last 15 years, a push to slip males into the category of “emotional, comedic, bumbling dudes who cannot take care of themselves,” who are wimpy, incapable of performing their husbandly duties; they cannot handle paperwork, kids, conversation, or basic human functions, and they certainly cannot lead a home as the solid and consistent strength that he needs to be in order for a home to work properly.
An overstatement? No. Just use your mind for a moment whilst you are watching television at how men are portrayed in the media of all forms by newscasters, advertising agencies, film producers and product salespeople and you will find that the vast majority of men are portrayed in this derogatory, slapstick manner. Especially when the advertisement is for women. One prime example (amongst thousands I’ve seen) for this is for GJ Gardner Homes ad this year where a husband is supposed to be doing the mowing as the announcer pronounces – but instead he is leaping about with his children in the sprinkler whilst his disgusted wife shakes her head and looks on in disbelief. This isn’t an anomaly. Another is the “Holden Trax” advertisement shown during last seasons X Factor where the trendy, gorgeous girlfriend waits elegantly in the cafe whilst the late, thoughtless and risk taking boyfriend makes his way through the city using GPS to find her. He is late. She is not. The saga continues into nappy ads, and paint ads, loan ads (savings and loans goofy husband) the “everyday heroes” that stroll comedically through the streets with sunnies on with their baby carriers. We are persistently the butt of jokes for marketing women everywhere – attempting to throw mud in the faces of men who really actually want to be a leader – a family man and a real hero for his kids, wife and an ambassador for Christ as well. This is shoved under the rug and replaced by a lunatic overgrown child who’s hellbent on walking on eggshells at home otherwise he’s outside with the dog (think “Girls Night In” Cancer fund-raising ads)
Repeating something makes it ok
There’s an ad for every product I can think of that has goofy men trying to do housework, dating, holding conversation, fix things, do cleaning or simply do something nice for their wives that completely falls flat and fails, and leaves some poor, working wife helpless, upset and annoyed with their goofy husband. This is not a neutral topic, despite the conversations I’ve read on forums and big newspaper articles – this is a serious matter. If the media pushes this stereotype into brains and cultural thinking for long enough, it conditions the women watching to believe that their dumb, incapable and hapless husband will always be a goofy, no-hoping brat who cannot think for himself. It will reinforce the water cooler conversation about how awfully incapable their husbands are at absolutely everything, and weakens men’s ability to confidently lead their family as a strength and presence in the home that only a father and husband can offer. And this isn’t good for men or women.
It breeds contempt for the failings of men in their homes, and it breeds equal contempt for those men themselves who know they fail in doing everything they can for their wives who are actually trying. Girls: we already know we make a million mistakes daily! That’s why Christ has bled and died for the forgiveness for our sins – so that we can forgive others for their mistakes and not hold contempt for them: including our spouses through the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the biggest problems in marriage can be restraining from pointing out mistakes and acting like a “behaviour police” for improving spouses.
Now, this kind of stereotyping is often left unchecked. Men are unequivocally bashed numerous times over the head verbally for making one slip up comment such as “women should do the dishes,” or, “I go to work and my wife looks after the kids,” but if a woman blames her husband for her failing dream lifestyle, inability to provide for a Jeep Cherokee, luxury holiday and has a slightly less than ripped body – nobody makes a fuss. It’s exactly the same tactic used by the homosexual lobby when speaking about traditional marriage. This is unequally balanced grilling. The major newspapers all call it “neutral” advertising because the “market” for this kind of stuff is women, and the marketers themselves are women, so they constantly barrage us with images of beer drinking fools playing practical jokes on each other, wimpy men who bow to their spouses every word (think M & M’s commercial), or on the other end of the spectrum: angry drunkards who constantly hit their wives in plain sight of the public. There’s barely any in between marketing of men, where they are shown to be committed to their wives, working hard for their pay and decently treat their spouses and children and even perform their cleaning duties as best as possible consistently. Nope. That’s unfortunately lame advertising. And doesn’t appeal to women. At least not as long as the marketers tell us it doesn’t.
In retrospect, there have been some incredibly daft examples of bad marketing of products that guilt trip women into buying them to please their picky husbands during the 1950’s and 1960’s coffee ads, for example, where the husband complains about the wife’s coffee-making each time, until she changes brand), which probably served as a biased example of sexist marketing because of the working culture at the time. But having said that, the backlash from this sexist advertising has produced a generation of ads that “demasculise” men and insult them to the point of ensuring their place in culture as a bumbling, wimpy, weak and incapable sex that cannot lead a home, raise a family well, train their children to become men and women of character and leave a lasting legacy of good works that impacted generations for Christ (just to be specific). With all of the constant talk of improving men’s health that goes around, it’s a real surprise that advertising hasn’t changed in regards to man bashing, because this eventually weaves its way into their psyche and attitude if they soak up what they’re watching for long enough.
Dominic Utton for the Telegraph news UK in March of 2014 had this to say in regards to changing advertising to reverse the “silly male” trend:
“Now imagine these adverts with roles reversed – where a mother is being ridiculed by her husband and ignored by her children. Where a nation is being encouraged to laugh at the ridiculous, pathetic woman. You can’t, can you? Of course not – because such an ad would never be made. It would be outrageously sexist.” (The Telegraph, 2014 “Why are men on TV always fools?” Viewed October 22 2016 <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/10692423/Why-are-men-on-TV-always-such-fools.html>.)
A website called “stupid white man commercials” details many, many examples of outrageously sexist ads that bash male forgetfulness, thought patterns, behaviour and mannerisms, all for fun. To sell things. And they do a great job of telling people to boycott products and services that market in this manner. But I’m not writing this to politically change things or spark a war. It’s about realising that biblical manhood is under attack in the church in the first place from evangelical feminism, which is a result of blending secular feminism with the church’s view on the Biblical roles of men and women in society, the home and church. This is an offshoot of having the “I am woman – hear me roar” attitude of the world bleed into advertising and subtly but surely whittle away the shreds of male leadership left in our culture till there’s an empty shell left. Instead of promoting strong leadership, firm discipline, loving wives with consistent faithfulness and servant-hood.
Michelle Lesley, a Christian blogger, author and women’s discipleship leader says in her blog post “Feminist Infiltration and the Emasculation of Christian Men” that:
“Turn on any television show, watch a commercial, go to the movies, read the news, scroll through your social media feed, and examine the way men are generally viewed, spoken of, and being treated by others.
If a female character on a TV show slaps her husband or punches him in the arm, we laugh or sympathise with her anger, depending on the scenario, but if the roles were reversed we’d call the same behaviour from a man abuse.
Men are frequently portrayed as bumbling incompetents as fathers, husbands, and employees, with a heroine mum, wife, or co-worker stepping in to save the day.
We see women wearing the pants in the family and treating their husbands like an extra child, and we see men who respond in kind: acting like children, obeying their wives’ commands, and, often, indulging in hours of childish pastimes, like video games, instead of working hard and caring for their families.
It’s not Father Knows Best any more. It’s Father’s a Moronic Buffoon to Kick Around.
And what’s alarming is that these attitudes have been creeping into the church for years.
Just as women rebelled against the law and social conventions to gain equality with men, “Christian” women now rebel against Scripture by becoming pastors and instructing and holding authority over men in the church. (In fact, this has been going on so long that many in the next generation aren’t even aware that the Bible prohibits this.)”
This hits the point home regarding the breadth and length of the destruction that ensues when feminism creeps into the church, and this only happens when women latch onto the world’s thinking regarding the role of men and women in marriage and then carry it into church positions and areas where there are clear scriptural distinctives.
What’s the solution to all of this? It’s to put aside sinful attitude towards men, and swallow pride in being more organised, calculating, quick, smarter and talented than they are and simply celebrating the differences. There’s no harm in comedy – I get that, but it doesn’t have to be steamrolling an entire gender for pure comedic relief purely as a result of a backlash against sexist 1950’s ads about men wanting coffee to taste better. There’s a higher ground here, and it’s to simply laugh at the differences, and celebrate those strengths in men that we so desperately need to celebrate for our children’s sakes. They look up to heroes, so why not put those on display for viewing eyes?