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Jul 14 2011

Got Sexism?

I apologize for the complete lack of posts lately; I’ve been busy volunteering and exploring New York City, where I am currently located. However, I’ve decided to crawl out of my Russian-food-and-thincrust-pizza-filled cave in order to comment upon this:

What are we looking at here? Silly-looking men holding cartons of milk? Not so simple. These are a series of new ads released by the Got Milk? advertising campaign. The ads showcase the fact that milk can supposedly help reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and feature men making pseudo-sarcastic statements that reference the fact that women are supposedly very moody while on their periods.

The ads point to a website, EverythingIDoIsWrong.com, which is a slick, sardonic guide for men to help placate their bitchy wives and girlfriends during that time of the month. The tagline of the site is, “Your home for PMS management.”

Here are some revealing screencaps from the site, helpfully annotated with my comments:

Attention, men! Because you are from Mars and women are from Venus, you need a special vocabulary to speak with them.
I find this one especially ironic given that women’s concern with their weight has much more to do with societal pressure to be thin than it does with PMS or with making their partners’ lives miserable.
Sorry, men, you’re just going to have to deal with the Evil Women in your life always blaming you for everything.
Because clearly, the only things women care about are gold, silver, and chocolate.

I’ve written about this peculiar menstruation-related misogyny before, except that in my previous post about it, it was being perpetuated by and for women. This ad campaign, on the other hand, targets specifically men and sets up a “yeah bro I know what you’re going through” vibe with its audience.

I won’t repeat what I said in the previous post with regards to the validity of this whole PMS = bitch business, but I will add that these ads rise to a new level of chutzpah, because they somehow manage to turn PMS into a men’s issue. How do they do this, you might ask? After all, it is women, not men, who must deal with the inconvenience of bleeding out of their private parts every month, getting cramps, and feeling fatigued and nauseous. Right?

Wrong! The crappy thing about periods, apparently, is how difficult they make life for men. I mean, duh.

Furthermore, if these fictional men’s concerns do actually contain a semblance of truth in them, maybe it’s time that we recognize the fact that menstruation isn’t to blame here. Rather, the culprits are bad communication skills and a general lack of ability to promote healthy relationships. After all, the relationships hinted at by the men in the ads are anything but functional. Maybe the cure isn’t milk, but a good couples’ therapist.

But of course, it’s much easier to chalk such issues up to women being Complex Demanding Creatures who will never be satisfied by anything their partners do for them, especially not when it’s That Time of Month.

Honestly, this may come as a surprise to you, but most intelligent women find themselves much more pissed off about crap like these ads than about being on their period (or about their partner not taking out the trash/putting the toilet seat down, as the case may be). After all, this is so reductionist. The message to women is, You are your hormones. The message to men is, Deal with her PMS and you’re home free. In the end, advertising campaigns stand to gain from portraying men and women in this way, because the less people understand what really causes conflict in relationships, the more they’ll attempt to buy Stuff to solve all the problems.

And no; just like diamonds, flowers, and chocolate, milk is no panacea.

[Well, now I have two entire posts tagged with "menstruation" on this blog. I'm proud. Also, if you happen to really miss my writing, here's my short-form blog, which I update much more frequently.]

More posts on this topic, if you’re interested:

OK, I’m done. Promise.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Ian

    “In the end, advertising campaigns stand to gain [...] because the less people understand what really causes conflict in relationships, the more they’ll attempt to buy Stuff to solve all the problems.”

    Quoteworthy!

    1. 1.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      Thank you! =)

  2. 2
    Team Oyeniyi

    Disgusting. No wonder you blogged about it!

  3. 3
    Team Oyeniyi

    Hope you don’t mind, but I posted a thread about your article in the Off Topic forum of WP

    1. 3.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      I don’t mind at all! Thank you!

  4. 4
    MMADfan

    This got my blood pressure up.

    And I’ve heard people claim that there’s no sexism — of course not, It’s all in the heads of hysterical women! (Read sarcasm there.)

    Thanks for the post. (I came by way of Team Oyeniyi’s link over in the forum.)

  5. 5
    Becoming herself

    This is such an intelligent and insightful post. In the UK, two women a week are killed by violent partners. Yet society obsesses over how moody women can be. What a joke that is. These things never fail to take my breath away.

    And quite apart from the extreme end of violent misogyny, are we to believe that men are never grumpy and moody? They are always on an even keel, we are supposed to believe, whereas we women – well, you just can’t tell from one day to the next. (Give us milk to placate us!)

    I need to take a blood pressure tablet.

  6. 6
    wiibii

    hahaha. great images to support ur opinions.

  7. 7
    Peas and Cougars

    Wow, these ads are pretty horrible. I’m almost glad I’m lactose intolerant now!

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