Thursday, December 20, 2007

Amanda Marcotte, This Christmas You Can Buy Her Affection

I've been happy this year to read a couple of blog posts written by men just slamming the ever-living shit out of the popular holiday commercial message, "All women are whores, just set the price." Otherwise known as ads pushing luxury goods like diamonds and cars with a fairly unmistakeable message.

These ads go far beyond just saying, "Hey, it's fun to spoil someone you love on occasion," and straight into making rather fucked up insinuations about how marriage and heterosexual relationships are transactional--her love and sex for your baubles. That women give love because they love and have sex because they desire doesn't enter the equation. There was one ad awhile back that was pretty close to explicit on this--a guy runs through the streets declaring he loves a woman. She's angry with him for his romantic and inexpensive gesture. He presents a diamond. Now she likes him again. Women's affections are a commodity, says the ad, not a normal human expression.

But I've seen a series of blog posts that take on these ads not just because they insult women, but because they insult men as well, another important point that needs to be made. Jamie at

Masculinity and Its Discontents: For some reason this one really gets to me. Scene: woman kicking back on the couch, watching the tube, as her young-architect/artist skinny, t-shirted, sandy-haired studmuffin puts the finishing touches on her pedicure, blowing gently on her toes.

He: How's it look, sweetie?
She: It looks great!
He: I dunno, I think maybe they could use one more coat.
Cut to smarmy announcer: because you're not that guy, go buy jewelry at Bob's.

You're not that guy, you're not caring, you're not patient, you're not creative, you're not gentle, y ou're not even good looking (to your woman). It makes me want to scream BE THAT GUY, MEN, once in a while, just be that guy. Stop buying the most overpriced, overvalued, falsely inflated, harvested-by-near-slave-labor stones in the history of humankind and DO something for your woman, talk to your woman, listen to your woman, pamper your woman as you'd like her to pamper her man. Don't buy her, do the damn labor! (and then maybe buy her something nice afterwards, sure. And ladies, it's your turn, buy your man some bling, show him you own him! Yes, I have a double standard, yes yes yes I do! I wanna be owned!)

Then MarkH blogs about this deeply fucked up diamond ad.

A special diamond to purchase sexual fidelity! Awesome. If any real demographic research went into this marketing, instead of just guesswork, then we have alarming evidence of the paranoid mindset of a lot of men. Between this and the ads that imply that you, the customer, are so hard up for sex from your own wife that you're desperate enough to pony up thousands of dollars, I'm forced to conclude that the marketers are just exploiting paranoia, because otherwise I'm forced to conclude that a far greater percentage of Americans live life on constant sexual intrigue than really seems possible.

Copyranter is also insulted:*
If my future wife bangs the entire roster of the Manchester United football squad a week after I give her a HOF diamond, do I get 100 times my money back?

You know, if you could sell it with a guarantee like that, there could be a lot of potential for non-monogamous couples to make some money for themselves.

Also, how many women out there are dumb enough to find it delightful to get a ring that says "Monogamy" on it? Like, is it fun to get a bauble that implies that you need to have your fidelity secured with expensive and glittery things?

Copyranter also found this one:

PZ derides these ads for making men look stupid.
I can tell you exactly what would happen if I spent a month's salary or more on jewelry (or worse, a year's income on a car). My wife would look aghast, and waver between calling the hospital for an immediate psychiatric consult and kicking me in the groin. I would spend that much on inessential frippery? Without consulting her? There sure wouldn't be any sexual arousal, unless these commercial makers easily confuse that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach at the thought of budget-busting debt with "sexy."

I'm certainly not averse to the concept of getting enthusiastic about giving or receiving gifts. I'm a sucker for it. But when the main selling point of a gift is, "I am so expensive that it puts the recipient into an informal debt to you to be repaid with sex, monogamy, etc.", then it's not about the fun anymore and starts to get creepy.

*His entire blog is a hoot, by the way. There was exactly 0% chance that this ad could have gone the other way and shown the dolls doing it cowgirl style and then moving onto cunnilingus.

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