Transphobia, Sexism, Fatism, Ageism, and Bullshit All Rolled Into One Hideous Advertisement

3 04 2009

dasl-drunk-woman_thumb

This is old news, but I found the ad so offensive that i felt compelled to post it anyway.  Apparently the creators of the ad find excessive drinking to be extremely repulsive, but of course only for women.  Why?  Because drinking excessively is drinking “like a man.”  And the ad relies on attempting to provoke disgust by displaying a masculine-looking face with makeup and female attire.  A trans woman in the town where the ad was distributed has filed a complaint about the ad, and asked for its removal.  However, NHS claimed that the posters had been effective in reducing excess drinking in women, and saw no reason to remove the ads.  The creators of the ad  insist that they made the ad in conjunction with the “national lead for the transgender community,” and that the ad is not transphobic or problematic.

There are legitimate health risks of excessive drinking, both for women AND men.  But this ad doesn’t even make it clear that excessive drinking is the problem.  “Wine doesn’t just come with cheese.  For women it is accompanied by hair loss, wrinkles, and obesity, plus other problems like breast cancer, early menopause and memory loss.” By making the ridiculous implication that drinking wine makes women old, obese, and unattractive, the ad plays on misogynistic stereotypes of appropriate female behavior and reinforces cultural ideals of feminine attractiveness.  By displaying a masculine face with makeup as an example of the imminent aging, obesity, and unattractiveness for women who drink excessively, the ad also implies the breaking of socially imposed gender roles is equivalent to a lack of attractiveness.  It’s pretty disgusting that an organization that is intended to promote public health could create an ad that is so offensive and harmful in so many ways.


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6 responses

4 04 2009
Patricia Sahertian

You have said it all. This ad is so offensive on all of the levels that you have listed and more. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

4 04 2009
feminist1

Thanks Patricia! I just visited your site and your documentary looks really really great. I am currently writing a post about it and I’m going to link it on the blog. Let me know if I get any info wrong, or there is anything you want me to add about the film. Thanks for your support!

9 04 2009
Melissa

This ad is harmful to men as well as women because it plays into our society’s normalization of heavy male drinking. The expression “drink like a man” equates male drinking with drinking to excess. It therefore suggests that not drinking to excess is “unmanly.” The ad lists the health risks “for women,” but excessive drinking is just as harmful to men’s health as it is to women’s health. In addition, the advertisers are being sexist, ageist, and weight- and image-obsessed in the health risks it chooses to warn against, such as wrinkles and obesity. What about liver disease, heart disease (one of the main killers of women), stroke, and cancer of the pancreas, liver, mouth, tongue, and throat? Are getting wrinkles and gaining weight supposed to be more horrifying to women than death? I have an Aunt in the hospital dying of liver failure due to excessive drinking who is only forty years old. Yet this ad ignores the danger of liver disease, and instead tells women not to drink because it will make them less physically attractive. Educating people on the dangers of heavy drinking is important, but this sexist approach is not the way to go about it.

17 04 2009
Jason

Technically speaking, a woman should not consume as much alcohol as a man. Typically, she’ll have less mass, and therefore, will end up with a higher alcohol-to-blood ratio. And, of course, that’s not going to be good for her.
On any given night, if two friends- an average sized woman, and an average sized man- went to a pub, and they both had four drinks, the likelihood is, she’ll feel the affects more.
So, yeah- “drinking like a man” sort of is bad.

As for the advert- I don’t think it’s offensive, or transphobic, at all. If a woman wants to look good (and why wouldn’t anyone want to look good?) she’s going to want to look like a woman. I’m not talking about the overblown femanine “ideals” thrown about the media, of stick-insect weight and wrinkle treatments and hiding anything that adds character because it’s a “flaw”- I’m talking about a healthy, normal woman. And let’s face it- health is the first and last step for beauty. All the things that make a woman beautiful- from full lips to sparkling eyes- are signs of health and vitality. Additionally, many of the things which are seen as unattractive are signs of poor health.
So the message- that I see, at least- is “drinking more than your body can handle will decrease your health. Decreasing health will lower your attraction levels.”
…Because let’s face it, telling people how unhealthy drinking and smoking is doesn’t seem to be working. Apparently, yeah, now we have to appeal to people’s sense of vanity, because they don’t seem to care how unhealthy they are as long as they look good and have fun.

I dunno. I don’t have much faith in people and society to care about the important stuff.

28 04 2009
Lady vanessa

and the really sad thing is, this is supposed to be a public service announcement and not just another stupid commercial ad for beer or wine or some other alcoholic beverage.

there are few ads that i do NOT find objectionable or annoying in one way or another. lately i am quite tired of all the ads for various men’s products. the erectile dysfunction medication ads are all offensive, particularly Viagra with the bastardized Elvis song and the leering tone of the voiceover when he says the name of the medication.

“Just For Men” hair dye ads also get on my last nerve for at least a couple of reasons. One, of course, is the all too typical “hey guys, use our product and GET PUSSY!” message. The other is the implication i get that for certain products (like hair dye, for example) there has to be versions of the product that are very clearly branded “FOR MEN!!!!” or else the poor boys might end up using girly ladies’ hair dye…and then who knows, their precious weenies might fall off or something!

Then of course there are all the ads for various stinky men’s colognes/body washes/shampoos/etc (Axe, Old Spice, etc). Again there are the two themes: use our product and get lots of hot chicks, and make sure you use the stuff that is specifically approved for use by men, or else, you know, you are not really a REAL MAN, man!!!!!!

28 10 2009
Pete75

Hi all,

My first post here nut I just thought I’d take up a couple of points.

“socially imposed gender roles”

I would have though that most of our significant gender roles are imposed through our genetics. Some of them are undeniable. Parenting is the obvious one. Some are able to be overcome but most often favour one gender over the other, a job involving heavy lifting would be more suited to a higher proportion of men than women for example.

“there are few ads that i do NOT find objectionable or annoying in one way or another. lately i am quite tired of all the ads for various men’s products. the erectile dysfunction medication ads are all offensive, particularly Viagra with the bastardized Elvis song and the leering tone of the voiceover when he says the name of the medication.

“Just For Men” hair dye ads also get on my last nerve for at least a couple of reasons. One, of course, is the all too typical “hey guys, use our product and GET PUSSY!” message. The other is the implication i get that for certain products (like hair dye, for example) there has to be versions of the product that are very clearly branded “FOR MEN!!!!” or else the poor boys might end up using girly ladies’ hair dye…and then who knows, their precious weenies might fall off or something!””

You mightn’t find erectile disfunction to be too much of an issue, but for many men it is very real and it’s very difficult to deal with. As for the “hey guys, use our product and GET PUSSY!” message”, women have been using this message since the dawn of time with makeup, push-up bras and so on… There’s plenty of research done into lipstick and women’s choice of colour that I don’t need to go into here. The point is that this is hardly the sole preserve of male sexuality. Even if it was, would that make us defective, or just different? Just….. male.

Might I suggest that your problem is actually in large part with male sexuality? I’m not trying to attack you Lady Vanessa, and please accepty this in the spirit of discussion, but it is something I’ve been conscious of for a little while now. To illustrate, imagine if we had a show “Male Sex in the City” where the content was exactly the same but the gender roles were reversed. I’m positive the show would be pilloried for being sexist, mysoginistic and vulgar. Let me tell you from this side of the fence, the the male sexual experience often consists of being called a perve for having needs, having your masculinity questioned on the basis of your own physical “dimensions”, and, if you are unfortunate enough to suffer from erectile disfunction, or even a momentary performance axiety, you’re considered something less than a man. No wonder performance axiety is such an issue!

You often see humour used in the promotion of male health products, I believe in large part, because men have been taught from birth that we each of us have to be the “Alpha”. Humourising things just seems to get through to us a little easier. I know I’d rather a humourous advert when dealing with serious and personal issues. A serious one would probably make me feel less secure than I already am with whatever problem I might have with the net result being that I’d probably ignore that problem and just act “like a man”.

“there has to be versions of the product that are very clearly branded “FOR MEN!!!!””

Why do women need Venus razors which are exactly the same as a men’s razor, only pink. Are women afraid their pussies might fall off?

Gender exists. Get used to it. It’s OK!

Having said all of that, great blog, keep at it. There’s some great stuff being discussed here.

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