We know that advertising is big business, really big business, and that advertisements often provoke, evoke feelings, make us laugh, anger us, but also that they much too often reinforce old and tired stereotypes based on gender. So here we are again with an advertisement that denigrates women while it simultaneously informs men that they should be the complete opposite of anything associated with women. The ECHL’s Florida Everblades have allowed the company Boost Creative to place an advertisement depicting women’s lower bodies (dressed in skirts) on the opposite team’s bench, so that the men’s upper body is showing, while the lower bodies are that of women. And apparently it is hilarious.
Chris Palin, the Everblades’ vice president (of sales and marketing) feels that the advertisement is fine, stating;
“You want to evoke emotion, that’s OK. As long as you don’t get a ton of complaints, that’s what it supposed to do.” The team has had a few complaints, but according to Palin ”…that’s the nature of advertising on the edge”.
On the edge? Really? This advertisement is not on the edge since every other advertisement out there is predicated on using women to try to emasculate men, or making other men feel like a woman if they do not commit to a narrow definition of masculinity. This type of advertisement is not new, nor is it edgy. It is the complete opposite of edgy, it is old, tired and outdated.
Perhaps the advertisement is funny if you are one of those men who spend their whole life trying your damned hardest not to be a sissy, a weakling, basically a woman. If your whole life is predicated on not being a woman, then perhaps the advertisement is hilarious to you. But when it comes down to it, Boost Creative placed a few sets of women’s lower bodies on the opposing team’s side of the arena. They play on old, dusty stereotypes of women, but most of all they send the message that a “real man” is the complete opposite of a woman, and that women will never be good enough compared to men.
Is this stretching the context of the advertisement? No, we do not think so. Whenever you use an image of a woman to demean a man, you are sending the message that there is a strict gender hierarchy and that women are on the bottom of this hierarchy. Women are second to men, in life, and definitely in sports. If you want to make a man feel less of a man, then compare him to a woman. This type of advertisement is not beneficial to women or men. It suggests that women are less than men, and that men need to stay away from anything deemed even slightly “feminine”. To really put the nail in the coffin, compare a strong, aggressive hockey player to a middle aged lady dressed in something reminiscent of a floral skirt. That will do it.
Photo depicting a Lego figure in hockey gear on the ice and is shared by Flickr user kennymatic under a Creative Commons license.