posts tagged "women in advertising"
In the age of Internet porn, teaching boys to be good men
by Zosia Bielski
What is a nymphomaniac? And is it okay to have a relationship with them?
Is it wrong or weird to think of someone else while having sex with someone?
Why is it okay for guys to have multiple sex partners but not girls?
Is it okay to masturbate five times a day?
Deep questions – at least if you consider they’re being asked by 14- and 15-year-old boys.
In Blake Spence’s class, no topic is off-limits, especially when a boy has dropped it anonymously into the “question box.” Mr. Spence, 28, co-ordinates the WiseGuyz Program, now on offer to Grade 9 boys in two Calgary high schools. In 14 two-hour sessions offered once a week, the guys talk – yes, talk, without girls in the room – about everything from reproductive anatomy, sexually transmitted infections and birth control to relationships, values and the media.
WiseGuyz, run by the Calgary Sexual Health Centre (which gave Mr. Spence his training), isn’t just sex ed with an update. It’s part of a new wave of initiatives to intervene in a young, male culture that is giving many adults cause for concern. Long-term, the aim is to combat the rates of domestic violence and sexually transmitted infections. Short-term, the goal is to tutor young men in healthy relations with women and non-destructive masculinity.
A U.S. study of 1,430 Grade 7 students published last month found that nearly one in six (15 per cent) reported being physically abused by someone they had dated; one in three (37 per cent) said they had been victimized psychologically or electronically in a romantic context.
“The script about what sexual relationships should be has been written for young men – that they have to be the aggressors and that it’s about their pleasure, not necessarily their female partner’s,” Mr. Spence says.
He also points out that boys in Grade 9 today “consume a lot of pornography.” Thus, “they need a lens to understand that those messages can be harmful, and that they’re actually not realistic. We’re giving them a context to consider.”
At a time when media and college-campus chatter seem to celebrate binge-drunk sex, disposable partners and protracted adolescence as the norm, critics such as Wendy Shalit and Laura Sessions Stepp have raised the alarm about “girls gone wild,” while seeming to neglect the other half of the equation.
But educators, at least, are increasingly shifting their focus to the masculinity script.
They say they need to start early: As young men construct their sexuality, they are being presented with myriad misogynist offerings, from the blatantly sexist attitudes of Tucker Max’s “fratire” bestseller I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell or on TV in Two-and-a-Half Men, to a “pickup artist” scene that has spewed out countless “seduction manuals” and boot camps for guys eager to try out techniques such as “negging,” which involves bulldozing a sexual prospect’s self-esteem to break down her resistance.
On campus, disturbing signs of what feminist critics call “rape culture” have emerged, including a 2010 late-night march by a Yale University fraternity that saw pledges walk around a female-freshman-housing area chanting “No means yes! Yes means anal!”
Equally queasy messages can be found in advertising: Earlier this month, a Facebook ad for vodka manufacturer Belvedere showed a man pinning down a frightened woman in his lap. “Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly,” the tagline read.
Most of all, perhaps, hard-core porn is now also seeping into the way adolescent and teenage boys navigate sex.
“Two clicks away and you’re watching people have sex, all kinds of ways of women being degraded,” laments Pam Krause, executive director of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre. “Is there a message in urinating on a woman’s face? If your parents aren’t talking about sex with you, and you aren’t getting good sex ed at school, that might be your first and perhaps only context for sex and sexuality for a while.”
A British survey published by Psychologies magazine in 2010 found that 81 per cent of 14-to-16-year-olds (regardless of gender) had looked at porn online at home, while 63 per cent called it up on their phones; a third of them had seen sexual images online when they were 10 or younger. A 2006 study involving rural Alberta youth from 17 schools found that 88 per cent of Grade 8 boys had viewed porn online, while 60 per cent had watched sex videos or DVDs.
“The availability of free Internet porn means not only that pornography is instantly available to anyone of any age, it also means that porn has permeated the culture to the point where its dominant messages about women, men, sex and power have permeated areas that we don’t think of as porn: advertising, film and television,” says Michael Messner, a sociology and gender studies professor at the University of Southern California.
“A challenge facing any adults working with boys is just to get them to think about and talk about these images, while not falling back on the guilt-loaded, anti-sex strategies that have proven so unsuccessful in the past.”
WiseGuyz was first piloted in 2010, and it will be adapted into a non-mandatory curriculum available to schools this fall. (Students need consent from their parents.) Teachers and administrative staff nudge into it the boys they think would benefit most: “It might be guys already in relationships, guys that get into trouble often, guys that have potentially negative attitudes about women or about someone from the LGBTQ community,” Mr. Spence says.
Whether it’s boys-only sex ed such as WiseGuyz, hockey coaches slipping in gender studies during practice or anti-sexism campaigns for college guys, educators hope that young men will begin asking themselves: “What is masculinity, and why do I act the way I do?”
It’s a fine tightrope walk, to discuss these subjects without vilifying men, emasculating or using the dreaded F-word – feminism. That’s tricky, given that the new programs for guys only “exist because of feminism,” according to Prof. Messner, author of It’s All for the Kids: Gender, Families, and Youth Sports. He argues that although few young men today would self-identify as feminists (and neither would many of their female peers), a lot of them would agree with feminist positions on issues such as equal pay or violence against women.
“The trick is for these guys to come to see these issues not just as women’s issues but as their issues, too,” he says. “Feminism as a movement is stalled partly because of backlash against it, but also because we have not yet taken the next step, which is to involve boys and men in seeing how feminism promises to broaden their lives in healthier directions.”
Lea and Dianna: Real bodies vs. their Photoshopped counterparts
Here’s a comparison of two photos of Lea and Dianna: one was the photo taken of them in the studio, and the other the final Photoshopped photo scanned from a magazine.
Lea, Glamour,December 2011:
- Eye makeup was adjusted
- Eyebrows were trimmed
- Some skin spots removed
- Wrinkles on nose removed
- Wrinkles on wrists removed
- Tone added to legs and arms
- Breasts accentuated
- Waist and back made dramatically smaller
Dianna, Cosmopolitan,September 2011:
- Wrinkles from dress removed
- Elbow has been reshaped
- Mouth tension erased
- Armpits are smoother
- Arms are skinnier and more toned
- Collarbones less noticeable
- Nose reshaped
- Breasts augmented
- Stomach made smaller (it’s cropped out from this picture, but her waistline is at least 3 inches smaller)
reason #2345 why I just don’t even read magazines anymore. A majority of the time none of the articles are targeted to/or even cognizant of the fact that people of my race and class status exist. But on top of that - everything is fake anyway.
This is a really well made and powerful video. I definitely encourage everyone to watch this and pass it along. Invest in the future of youth!
Distinguished sociologist Erving Goffman noted that women in photographs are often portrayed in compromising or submissive situations such as having the head turned upwards to expose the neck or in a contorted stances often with light self-touching. Such poses invite the gaze of the viewer and make the subject of the photograph seem vulnerable and exposed to sexualization.