Stating Allstate's Sexism
Tags: children/youth, crime/law/deviance, gender, media, sex/sexuality, masculinity, patriarchy, sexism, socialization, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: Following Judith Lorber, patriarchy can be defined as simultaneously the process, structure, and ideology of women's subordination. Sexism, then, denotes anything that promotes or reinforces the system through which this persistent subordination operates. People often have trouble working with formal definitions, so illustrations from the real world, such as this thirty-second commercial from Allstate, can be helpful. The ad features an insurance agent chatting with a homeowner, who is quite pleased with the tree house he recently built in his backyard. "The boys love it," he boasts, "They are up there day and night!" Then with deft comedic timing, the agent informs his prideful client that the boys love their new tree house primarily because it looks into their neighbor, Mrs. Koslowski's, window. It is important to move beyond simply calling commercials distasteful. To articulate why this Allstate ad is sexist is to articulate how it contributes to the systemic subordination of women. It is an exercise in describing how patriarchy works. As I see it, the sexist problems with this commercial are of two sorts. First, the narrative relies on a very problematic myth about the irrepressible sexual desires of boys and men. Plainly stated, Allstate has conjured a scenario of three prepubescent boys in their new tree house with binoculars, but they are not there to play as children. Rather, viewers are to conclude that their incipient male sexual drive is leading them to seize upon a rare voyeuristic opportunity, and a non-consensual one at that. This particular representation of men is sexist because it attempts to justify an abusive and exploitative pattern of behavior among men as it pertains to women. While there is really no evidence that men's libidos ever render them incapable of moral behavior, it is fairly clear that cultures which assure men they have irrepressible sexual urges give men permission to act as if their libido occasionally renders them incapable of moral behavior. But if the first problem has to do with justifying predatory behavior among men, the second problem is the commercial's claim about what constitutes an appropriate response to men who behave as sexual predators. There is a sense in the ad that viewers are witnessing a family memory in progress, perhaps a funny story that might some day be told at a party. But it's important not to lose sight of the fact that the boys are engaging in behavior that is both morally and legally reprehensible (real world examples can be found here). The boys are committing a serious crime; yet the tone of the commercial assures the viewer that it is just another banal instance of boys being boys. Note that the agent is laughing, and while the father is clearly uncomfortable, his response is to spray the boys with a hose. On this last point, the commercial is sexist because it downplays the seriousness of this subordinating behavior among men. To paraphrase sociologist Michael Kimmel, the often made conclusion that "boys will be boys" really means that boys and men will always be violent, rapacious animals. Such a conclusion is a sexist posture of resignation.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
6/26/2013 01:52:26 pm
I know plenty of women who cannot control themselves either, even in biology classes during serious subjects >.> Just saying, Also a naked man or woman to me is just a body, a shell, okay cool it has nerves and cells and is made of carbon and proteins like me. it also has a brain that is wired with chemicals like dopamine and serotonin and many other chemicals, some of these wire into a person male or female making them unable to fully control their "Lust". Or maybe i am just weird because im a Sapiosexual(*) despite the XY/XX bs. just saying people, Patriarchy and Matriarchy are ignorant concepts, also Feminism (True Feminism) understands that NOT ALL Males are the same, in fact many males (most Sapios) are Elite Feminists, this goes both way. Feminism is about pure Equality for "Females" and sadly this does get Twisted up a lot due to inherent Sexism. SO take it form me, there is Fake Feminism and Real Feminism, i should know, i spent my deployment time around real feminists who where all damn good human beings.-Sapiosexual[*]-Sexualy Attracted to Intelligence]l (Too bad more people are not like that). Lesson of the day done
1/11/2014 09:51:45 am
What on earth are you walking about? The whole point of this article is that men CAN control themselves. Men can't control themselves = patriarchal myth. There is no such thing as uncontrollable lust. Humans are rational animals with the ability to choose their own behaviour.
6/26/2013 01:54:49 pm
You have a lot of misspelling there Pi guy, but you are right. A lot of men are wrongly put into the same category and should not be. Work on your spelling though dear, people are more likely to agree and listen if you type correctly. :P
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