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Let it be said up front that this cranky second waver bears no animus with regards to hamsters, electric vehicles, or dancing. Yet, once these elements are mixed into the toxic soup of everyone’s favourite capitalistic patriarchal construct – better known as ‘our society’ – hilarity is bound to ensue.
The advertisement in whole, before we begin.
This commercial is about selling cars. (Duh!) But who is the target audience? (if you thought hamsters, please leave now there are places better suited for your attentions). Let’s break this down and take a look at the characters.
Science Hamster #1 – Red bow-tie, suspenders.
Science Hamster#2 – Red bow-tie, red glasses and polka dot shirt.
Science Hamster#3 – Rasta hat, white shirt.
Female Hamster in Ball – Brown and cute. Context wise we don’t know the ball hamster is female, but with time spent on establishing a connection one could assume.
We’re 10 seconds into the commercial and what do we have here – 3 male represented characters creating, designing, and actively teching out with all sorts of futuristic displays and machinery. The female role, to smiled and waved at; the unsurprising passive receptacle for male attentions.
Audio note – “Baby I’m preying on you tonight. Hunt you down eat you alive,. Just like animals (x2). Ah yes because the predator/prey relationship is so sexy, and filled with equality too!
Well nothing new here under the sun so far, but as with most patriarchal adventures it gets worse the farther you go. Our intrepid female hamster gets herself into a jam by wheeling her ball into the experimental area and is zapped along with the vehicle by the transmogrifying beams of science.
Our first glimpse of her portents much of what is to come. Disembodied woman parts with feminine signifiers for the winz!
The requisite Male gaze.
And after a full body pan, we as viewers to get to experience the male gaze. Just some reinforcement in case you missed the objectification the first time around.
Now that we have primed the audience for sexual objectification, lets use it to sell the damn car!
Where is the female empowerment (do tell my Third Wave friends)?!? Oh wait the power of love. How charmingly original for a female character (do contrast this with the creator, the scientist, the engineer).
Oh, dudes like their technology more than any single vampy female. Let’s get a shot of her looking flummoxed so we can reiterate the “female body selling car” angle again. We do remember the advertising truism – the sexual objectification of women sells.
Our intrepid dudes roll to the nearest pet store to ‘pick up some chicks’. Consider the perceived power differential – the dudes looming over a cage of helpless females – and of course the anvilicious buying of women for happy fun sexy times.
So cue more science and boom! Let the female empowerment roar while striking sexy poses for dudes (science and/or otherwise)!
Recently bough females remarkable receptive to their buyers, with nuzzling and other overt signs of
female powah affection.
Cue the formation dancing with of course, our protagonists front and centre, we must never forget the centrality of the man and his power.
And thus endeth the analysis.
Going through this post made me think of all the conversations, mostly with men, about how we don’t need feminism anymore because we are an equal society now thus there is no use for feminism or feminist analysis. This was a cute commercial until you actually look at the underlying patriarchal messages that surprisingly happen to dovetail nicely how society perceives, and thus, how society treats women in 2014.
You could knock me over with a feather given how surprised I am about the level of misogyny present in our media.
As always, IBTP.
I suggest stop being like these guys and try a new fanciful tact – treating women with the respect and the dignity that you as a dude get by default.
Seems like we have a bit of feminist theme going on here this week – quelle suprise! Harassment and how women and men are taught to exist in society. If we can edumacate a few dudes about the toxic patriarchal soup we all swim in the world will be a better place.
“A male friend of mine that develops AAA games told me, “When a woman criticizes me, it goes to a different part of my brain than when a man on my team does. I get defensive really quickly. I’m trying to get better about it.” I don’t think his is a unique experience.
We live in a society that’s sexist in ways it doesn’t understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. I think it threatens them in a very primal way, and male privilege makes them feel free to lash out.
This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it.”
Sooooo… experiences are different for women in the game industry who would of thunk? Might it be because women and men are socialized differently and are taught to respond differently to situations? Might one set of strategies be beholden to the other, thus reinforcing the disparity? Food for thought -
The highly quotable Margaret Atwood clarifies the idea:
“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”
Part of the reason why feminist analysis is such a valuable tool is that FA deconstructs and identifies the constructed norms of society and rightly points out how craptacular said norms are for women.
So, dudes, a glimpse into the faux-egalitarian society you’ve created and learn the implied lesson of “don’t be that guy” – thanks in advance for being a better person.
Oh, hey did you need more evidence of the power imbalance in society? Take a look at the comments section and count how many responses with the motif : If you dress a certain way you are asking for it.
How reading ytube comments makes me feel:
Anti-rape education is making poor frat-boys’ penises sad, according to this article at Bloomberg.
…making out with a girl at a party. Things were going fine, the student said, when suddenly a vision of his school’s disciplinary board flew into his head.
“‘I want to go to law school or medical school after this,’” Pollack said, recounting the student’s comments. “‘I said to her, it’s been nice seeing you.’”
OK, if the disciplinary board is flashing into your head, chances are it’s because you know something’s not right. It’s too bad fear for your future, and not, you know, empathy or human decency, made you back off, but I’m sure the woman in question appreciates it.
“I don’t think it’s about me,” said Gill, the Harvard student. “I feel like I’m pretty good guy. But if I’m talking to a girl and want to gauge her interest, I’m more cautious than I used to be. I don’t want to cross the line.”
And this is a bad thing?!
Some men feel that too much responsibility for preventing sexual assault has been put on their shoulders, said Chris Herries, a senior at Stanford University. While everyone condemns sexual assault, there seems to be an assumption among female students that they shouldn’t have to protect themselves by avoiding drunkenness and other risky behaviors, he said.
“Do I deserve to have my bike stolen if I leave it unlocked on the quad?” Herries, 22, said. “We have to encourage people not to take on undue risk.”
Oh for fuck’s sake. Let’s talk about undue risks here. Back in the day, I used to be a goth/punk/alternative club-girl. I used to go out dressed super-provocatively, and dance provocatively, and drink – sometimes too much – and sometimes go home with people I met at the club and we would have consensual sex. I never got raped. In fact, I don’t even recall having been touched inappropriately without my consent. And we’re talking about a period of several years, here.
Why was “my” club a safe place for women to express our sexuality? Because, simply put, the culture there was a culture of consent and mutual respect. Things like coming up behind a woman, grabbing her by the hips, and grinding against her, were Simply Not Done, and the social opprobium unleashed on anybody who tried it (“normal” bro-dudes out to slum with the weirdos and ogle girls in corsets) put a very swift end to it, and to the perpetrator’s presence in the club.
But you know what? None of this put any kind of damper on people hooking up. So suck it up, poor poor fratboys of Stanford and Harvard, and learn to tell the difference between a woman who wants to make out with you, and a woman who was happily minding her own business before you imposed your unwelcome person on her. I assure you, it’s really not complicated, as long as you’re not an entitled flaming douchebag who thinks your boner makes everything you do morally ok.
A little push-back at the more toxic prescriptions of our society.
Ah, friendly readers, behold the surreal world of MRA ‘reality’ compared to what, in fact, is reality.