Advertising to Men

Following the earlier post and discussion on affirmative action for male feminists I thought I would post this piece of advertising aimed at men, since I think it raises something about the experience of being a man that is of interest to feminism.

Scruffs Advert

This product is directed at construction workers, the kind that stereo-typically wolf-whistle and leer at women. One of the things I think is interesting is that just as advertising aimed at women (of the kind mentioned here) seems to make women view themselves in terms of their appearance and attractiveness to men, this kind of advertising does something similarly unhelpful.

First, and obviously, it helps to impose a male only exclusivity on the construction industry. Second, it helps define maleness and male sexuality as tough, and aggresive (“banging”, “drilling”). And thirdly, I would say it suggests something to men about how to view who (or even what) they have sex with. Banging, Screwing, Drilling are activities that we go around doing to things. When we draw a connection between this and sex, then sex is just something men go around doing to things. You can see where I’m going with all this – maybe this is the way men are taught to objectify women, maybe just as women are subject to the male gaze and self-police, perhaps men are subject to a continued checking of their masculinity and self-police their activities towards women, and so on. Anyway, I just thought this kind of advertising towards men was an instance of why certain male experiences are relevant and interesting to feminism.

6 thoughts on “Advertising to Men

  1. A few days ago I received a copy of an article titled “PETA and Playboy Playmates Team up for National Hot Dog Day.” PETA’s publicity stunt arguably falls under the advertising category.

    The write-up says “two Playboy playmates—-wearing nothing but strategically-placed lettuce leaves” appeared at a Congressional building on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This annual display is meant to counter a conference with the American Meat Institute inside the building. A PETA campaigner is quoted, claiming “We’re not exclusive like them.” Yet here, perhaps, is another example of reinforcing male exclusivity –- this time regarding the decision-makers of the U.S. government, whom the article obligingly calls congressmen.

    But no matter whom this campaign is meant to impress (obviously the general public is also a target audience), the claim that a movement for fairness and justice can and should be advanced by sexist advertising is one of the more disturbing concepts in our current culture. It seems implausible that a group presenting female humans as “playmates” (dressed in lettuce leaves and accompanied by the slogan “turn over a new leaf”) can seriously consider the interests of any traditionally oppressed group, human or not.

    By way of disclosure, I’m a feminist who works with an animal-advocacy group. The article is available here:

  2. I, too, have been dismayed by PETA’s marketing tactics of the past couple of years. Lots of hot celeb women and suggestiveness. At first I thought this was an attempt to “sexy up” vegetarianism, which is not terrible in and of itself (see photo from PETA’s “Live Make-Out Tour” of 2004 at, but this is a “master’s tools” situation. If you can’t beat them, join them?
    It certainly is getting attention although the method is problematic.

  3. i looked at this convention in which the beautiful women were on display being covered by lettuce leaves and the marketing for playboy has worked because it has raised an issue. i am currently doing a case study on advertising aimed at men for a college project and i would love to hear reasons you believe sex sells to men and does it to women. if you do please feel free to mail me

  4. This is a very insightful post. It’s rare that me (as a man) stumble upon a feminist post where there is an insight to the way society forces the tough and rawdy male role upon us. I truly believe that just like the magazines break down young women’s self ego, the same industries confuse the male identity.

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