Protein World and the pollution of the commons


Unless you have been living under a rock these past few days (or haven’t logged on to Twitter, which amounts to much the same) you have probably caught passing breezes from an almighty flap about the London Underground billboard advertising campaign for Protein World.

Featuring the improbably slender physique of Australian model Renee Somerfield next to the slogan “ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?” these posters inspired an online petition demanding their removal and an associated social media tempest. Things really got lively, however, when the company declined to follow the usual corporate PR social media strategy (issue a half-arsed apology for “any offence caused” then batten down the hatches) and instead standing their ground and launching gleefully into a full-blown flame-war with their critics – apparently handled personally by their CEO and marketing director.

Now, for the neutral observer it will be interesting to see how this transpires. The company are claiming massive boosts to sales and unprecedented brand awareness. I see no reason to doubt the truth of this, although I’m less convinced it will play well for them in the long-term. For now I am more interested in trying to figure out what this row is really all about.

Following the storm as closely as I can, I have seen numerous different issues conflated and elided. Teasing them apart as best I can, the complaints seem to be:

1. The objectification of women, in unspecified terms.
2. The assertion that there is something called a “beach body” distinct from any other body.
3. That the presentation of the model is tantamount to ‘fat-shaming’
4. That the model’s (impossibly photoshopped?) perfect body is aimed at making other women feel ashamed of their bodies.
5. That diet-pills and potions are unhealthy or dangerous, or amount to ineffective snake-oils.

(I don’t doubt there have been other complaints made, but these five seem to capture most of those I have seen.)

Are any of these complaints reasonable and fair? Personally I struggle to see how the charge of objectification can stick, whatever definition one uses. If ever there was a product that could be fairly advertised with a thin model in a bikini, surely a slimming product is the one? What’s more, Somerfield’s pose is hardly passive, submissive or vulnerable. She is, as the Tumbleristas would say, fierce.

It is of course entirely reasonable to say that there is no such thing as an (acceptable) beach body. Beaches are for everyone, whatever size or shape one may be. At the same time there can be little doubt that for many people (not all of them women) losing weight in the weeks or months before a beach holiday is considered a priority, which is why the magazines and other media all run ‘beach body’ features at this time of year and the diet / health industry tries to cash in. Of course it is immoral and ugly that commerce chases our money by poisoning our self-esteem then selling us the antidote but, hello, capitalism. Likewise, the medical professions might have good grounds for concern about use and misuse of protein shakes and other pills and potions, but that problem hardly begins and ends with Protein World.

When everything is stripped down to bare bones and bikini, it seems to me that nobody is quite sure what is wrong with the Protein World billboards, but a lot of people agree that, for whatever reason, it has really pissed them off. Maybe it is a little bit of all the reasons above, some perfectly valid, others perhaps less so. On top of that there is, I would suggest, one other cause for anger going on here and it is one that should, in my view, be applauded. I think the Protein World adverts are being perceived as a breach of the unwritten, unspoken rules of the contract of the urban commons.

Over recent decades the urban commons has increasingly been enclosed and co-opted by commercial interests, enabled and empowered by the iron heel and the big stick of legal state power. If you are in a town or city right now, look around and try to find a snapshot, a vista, a panorama, that is not riddled with branding, with advertising, with people trying to invade your consciousness, demand your attention, shift your thinking or bluntly sell you something. Even if you are lucky enough to catch a view without a billboard, look again and notice the ad-bedecked bus or even pedestrians carrying their own little polyurethane product placements or branded clothing.

Most of the time we accept this, unthinkingly, unknowingly. It is an unspoken contract which says you can bombard our conscious and unconscious minds with garish advertising and in return we will accept the trinkets that come as participants in consumer capitalism. Just occasionally, something pervades our consciousness and we think, whoa, no, too much. It might be a political poster for Ukip or it might be a campaign to flog dieting gunk, but it is as if a red bulb lights up in our mind and we think no, enough, too much. I didn’t sign up for this. For whatever reasons, this image, these words, this campaign is polluting my consciousness beyond the limits which I am prepared to accept.

And that is why, for all the clever witticisms and political slogans that have peppered the reactions to the Protein World campaign, the one that – for me – best represents the issues is simple and to the point. It simply says, FUCK OFF.

 

proteinWorld_Fuckoff

Twitter: @everyoneisetra

 

This, to me, says everything that needs to be said about Protein World and their advertising. Almost everything about them, from the nature of their product to the nature of their advertising, is dehumanising, exploitative, degrading, tasteless, ugly and crass. It is the kind of thing that when historians recall the decades at the turn of the 21st century, will surely be held up as a representative symbol of our decadence. In that, they are far, far from alone. Today people’s anger is focused on a diet-potion pedlar. Tomorrow it will be a car manufacturer or a junk food merchant, and the reasons, the spark, will be similarly vague and arbitrary. The barked, muttered or scrawled reaction of “FUCK OFF” however, will be only too clear.

 

Comments

  1. xyz says

    Great analysis. To me, the ads just seem so aggressive in their design and content, I can easily see how they would be considered a nuisance. For me, they would be uncomfortable to see. I’m a recovered eating disorder sufferer whose “beach body” is less than perfect these days. This ad wouldn’t wake my desire to starve myself again these days, thanks to a lot of hard emotional work, but earlier in my life it would have. It’s heartening to think this kind of ad may be considered unacceptable for public space these days. FUCK OFF indeed 😉

  2. karmacat says

    I like some of the responses to the ad, such as “if my body is on the beach it is ready.” The best response is the 2 real women in bikinis who have real non-photoshopped bodies. It is a constructive response to so much body shaming in the culture.

  3. Ally Fogg says

    Have done so many a time, avern, as I’m sure the likes of carnation and Raging Bee will confirm.

  4. says

    I often find that I want to comment on your pieces Ally but cant really get further than “I agree”.

    The whole concept of Protein Worlds product is a shitty one even if it works* so the advertising is necessarily going to be shitty.

    * I’m sure a hell of a lot of extra work** has gone into the models body than just using a single product.

    ** it is after all her job.

  5. Carnation says

    @ Ally Fogg

    Yes, I’ve had several messages deleted and been warned about tone and content. Mostly agreed and adapted as required.

    I’ve noticed that the longer and more personal an argument gets, and typically with fewer participants, the less likely Ally is to bother policing. Avern’s personal repeated personal attacks on me (which I enjoy & encourage) weren’t censured, and all concerned broke the First Directive.

    This early on in a thread, when sensible people are starting to come in, there’ll be less tolerance of derailing or Directive breaches.

  6. Carnation says

    I use protein powder to bulk up… what a strange world we live in.

    Re the ad, had it appeared in Cosmo, a holiday mag or even on the pages of the Metro, nobody would have cared. As you rightly said, the urban commons is a step too far.

    Game, set & match to the marketing dept – they’ll be getting their bonus thus year.

    Perhaps Bill Hicks was right.

  7. JT says

    Im thinking a more appropriate statement would work for all included, both those who want the product and those who find it insulting.

    “Get a life”

    🙂

  8. Ally Fogg says

    Just for the record, I do tend to be a lot more harsh on posts that appear early on a thread, which tend to derail and obstruct sensible discussion.

    By the time we get into post 100, 150, 200, I reckon the only people still reading must have iron will and can look after themselves 😉

  9. David S says

    4. That the model’s (impossibly photoshopped?) perfect body is aimed at making other women feel ashamed of their bodies.

    I have a modest proposal to advance regarding that one. Photoshopping of models in this kind of ad should not only be allowed, it should be mandatory. Trying to suppress the use of digital manipulation will not prevent advertisers from printing photographs of people vastly more attractive than you or I, because they can seek out people who genuinely are gorgeous, and then pay them lots of money so that they can spend their lives down at the gym making themselves even more gorgeous. A ban on the use of photoshop would just deprive us of the comfort that we would otherwise derive from telling ourselves that the models’ looks are a result of digital artifice.

    I am considering whether, in my benign dictatorship, all models will be forced to undergo cosmetic surgery, even if they don’t actually need it. Do you think that would be going too far, even if it was for the common good?

  10. says

    Martin Daubney is on Radio4 PM right now saying that even though “you cant move these days without seeing objectified images of men”, its not something that men get upset about. Not like those nasty feminists trying to shut down lads mags and page 3.

    He then goes on to mention the 600% rise in steroid use and the need for needle exchanges to keep abusers as safe as possible.

    But still, men should enjoy being looked at and its not something to get upset about.

    #toxicmasculinity.

  11. Burt Von Goose says

    Ah, the old ‘men are objectified too’ argument…which ignores that it’s generally men who put the OTT bodybuilder type physique up as an ideal, not women. How many women do we hear cooing over roided up beefcakes? Arnie was never exactly Tom Cruise in the heartthrob stakes, was he?

  12. David S says

    @Danny Butts(13)

    He then goes on to mention the 600% rise in steroid use

    My inner nerd gets a bit agitated when people cite increases as percentages. If some phenomenon X occurs, and at some time did not occur, then as a matter of straightforward arithmetic

    (a) It is possible to pick two points in time T1 and T2, such that the frequency at which X occurs has increased by 600% during the interval that separates them.

    (b) It is possible to pick a point in time T such that, at that time, the frequency of X was increasing at a rate of 600% per year (although you can’t necessary find a year such that there was a 600% percent increase between Jan 1 and Dec 31).

    Of course, I didn’t have the radio on, and you did, so maybe that was dealt with on the programme, but percentages without actual numbers should always raise suspicions (as should actual numbers without percentages).

  13. Ally Fogg says

    Yeah, I’m not too sure how related the issues are in [13]

    There is no doubt that there has been a massive increase in numbers of young men who want to have the whole ripped physique thing going on but I’m not at all sure it is being primarily driven by popular culture / billboards or whatever.

    My feeling is that it is much, much more about performative masculinity. Young men (especially working class men) once asserted their masculinity through their jobs, their male communities, their recreational fighting, even providiing for families at a young age etc etc etc. With so much of that stripped away it seems the only thing left is a physical incarnation of masculinity.

    That’s why I think Burt Von Goose is broadly correct at [14] but I don’t think ‘men do it to each other’ is really a satisfactory response. All of these things are in response to cultural pressures rather than meeting demands of a gender or whatever.

  14. says

    David S

    “I didn’t have the radio on, and you did, so maybe that was dealt with on the programme”

    not really, he claimed that men didn’t get upset about the imagery , unlike those over emotional women, then he mentioned some research he’d just seen re: 600% and needle exchanges, then he went back to saying how great men were for taking it all in their stride.

    As this is the British part of the network, I get to call him a twat.

  15. Carnation says

    @ any MRAs

    A genuine question. Warren Farrell theorises that men are controlled/influenced/coerced by the sexual appeal of women. If this is so, isn’t there a clear MRA case for censureship of ads such as these?

  16. David S says

    @Ally (18)

    There are a lot of possible reasons why it might not be very reliable, but I can quite believe there is a genuine rise to some degree going on

    Thanks for the link. My point wasn’t that I thought that the 600% was untrue, but that, in at least some sense, it would have to be true. If something increases from a starting point of zero, then there has to be some point in time at which the rate of increase, expressed in geometric (percentage) terms will be enormous, even if the rate of increase is quite small when expressed arithmetically.

  17. lelapaletute says

    Nah, Ally, not sure about this one. I think it is a genuinely vexed reaction of women who are sick of being scrutinised and exhorted and berated by the media about their bodies every waking minute and are just fucked off to the back teeth with it frankly. The advertising plague is a whole different (very very real) problem. And the pressure has started on men’s bodies too in the last 10 years or so (marketing having exhausted all profitable ways to make women hate themselves). But I’m afraid the sheer volume of the crap thrown at women from every corner of popular culture about their bodies is reason in itself to want to burn these fucking posters, without even considering the psychic pollution angle. Just enough already, seems to be the mood from where I’m sitting.

  18. lelapaletute says

    Oh yeah, and Protein Prat’s response to one of their more vocal critics – essentially mocking her for her supposed mental health problems because she doesn’t like their advert – is…. well. Some people can’t step on enough upturned bits of Lego as far as I’m concerned.

  19. avern says

    I’ll re-post a screenshot of a feminist promoting damaging personal property that was taken down due to Ally’s supposed concern for sensible discussion:

    https://archive.is/bRM5m

    Tweets like this in addition to the blatant and celebrated vandalism that has occurred is what should be of concern to people, not a harmless billboard showcasing a fit, attractive woman.

    In any case, as was proven in the last open thread, men are objectified far more often and in more alarmingly insidious ways than women are, but men are also trained by society not to complain or care about their own degradation. It’s men who should be primarily offended by the sexualization of their bodies more than anyone.

    @Carny

    “Avern’s personal repeated personal attacks on me (which I enjoy & encourage) weren’t censured, and all concerned broke the First Directive.”

    You’ve basically outed yourself as a harasser and a creep.

  20. Ally Fogg says

    Lela [21]

    Nah, Ally, not sure about this one. I think it is a genuinely vexed reaction of women who are sick of being scrutinised and exhorted and berated by the media about their bodies every waking minute and are just fucked off to the back teeth with it frankly

    Oh I don’t dispute that for a moment, in fact it very much fits with what I was trying to say.

    I think this particular ad, for whatever reason, has become a lightning rod or spark for a whole bunch of frustrations and anger. My point, however, was that I still can’t see anything specifically horrendous about this particular ad to set people off, just something about it made a lot of people think ‘oh, fuck off.’

  21. Ally Fogg says

    avern and Carnation, talking to both of you,

    Any more personal attacks and off-topic sniping and I will go further than just deleting posts.

  22. lelapaletute says

    Ah, gotcha. I thought you were saying it wasn’t a specifically feminist fuck off, just a general “I hate advertising” fuck off. Probably on the same page then!

    It isn’t a parTICularly awful poster, but it is SO old-fashioned and reductive. You think we’re getting past blatant objectification as a society, and then bang – you round a corner on the Underground and there it is, right in your face, and it’s like the past 20 odd years of gender politics never happened. It’s a shock, like it is when some bloke you don’t know and hadn’t even made eye-contact with shouts something sexual at you out of nowhere.

    Mind you, Transport For London thought it was a good idea to put posters up everywhere with pictures of a weeping rape victim trapped in a car to stop women getting into unlicensed cabs, so I suppose no-one should really be surprised at what they deem suitable for a wall-sized advert…

  23. 123454321 says

    “In any case, as was proven in the last open thread, men are objectified far more often and in more alarmingly insidious ways than women are, but men are also trained by society not to complain or care about their own degradation…”

    Avern – You are spot on and 20 years ahead of your time. You people out there – remember where your heard this first! The media in general is just starting to latch on to the fact that men are becoming more and more objectified, unsurprisingly with the full and open support of women and the feminised BBC (see Poldark for evidence), whilst those same women still complain vehemently about the objectification of women, no matter how minor. Oh well, I guess it all goes to show how childish, bigoted, self-centred, inconsiderate, jealous, indecent, tit-for-tat, immature, disrespectful, indecent and puerile women, collectively, can be! And I’m so pleased for all you big stwong white-knight men out there who openly support these ‘in-your-face’ DOUBLE STANDARDS which are going on at the moment because you’re gonna look fucking awesome in the history books, all dressed up in your suits of shining armour, armed with your mouse and keyboards, tapping away to help save the sanity of the jealous feminists – all for the sake of your Grandchildren being able to ask during those bedtime stories “who were those fucking short-sighted twats dressed in white armour again, Grandma? – you know, the ones who knew even less about the word equality than feminists did!”

  24. Jan says

    Yeah, I think it’s a combination of your final point with this one:

    “It is of course entirely reasonable to say that there is no such thing as an (acceptable) beach body. Beaches are for everyone, whatever size or shape one may be. At the same time there can be little doubt that for many people (not all of them women) losing weight in the weeks or months before a beach holiday is considered a priority, which is why the magazines and other media all run ‘beach body’ features at this time of year and the diet / health industry tries to cash in. Of course it is immoral and ugly that commerce chases our money by poisoning our self-esteem then selling us the antidote but, hello, capitalism.”

    In that while the rest of the “beach body” industry is equally bad, it at least is relatively easy to ignore, providing no-one one spends time with is interested in it. One can comparatively easily avert ones eyes from a magazine rack; the advert discussed above is much, much harder to avoid. I’d say it’s probably got all this attention simply because it’s an exceptionally intrusive example of its breed rather than because of its subject alone.

  25. Thil says

    I’ve always thought all the fuss about objectification in the media is based on a rather pessimistic assumption. Namely that humans, usually men in particular, are incapable or learning to separate fantasies from reality.

    Super attractive bikini clad sex objects must be purged from our trash movies because the men who watch them are apparently incapable of enjoying the fantasy without letting it leak over and effect how we treat the non-fictional variety of female humanity. That just strikes me as a terribly bleak view of people.

  26. Bugmaster says

    I personally don’t mind the style of the ads. Yes, I think it’s crass, but no one died and made me Tone Police Chief. What gives me pause, however, is Ally’s point #5, which I would break up into two subpoints:

    5a). Their product is an ineffective snake-oil
    5b). Their product is actively dangerous

    At this point, we’re no longer talking about hurt feelings and ephemeral microaggressions. Instead, we are talking about an ad that is either fradulent, or, what’s worse, could actively kill people. This is some very real, very tangible harm. I’m not sure about the UK, but in the US, the FDA exists primarily to prevent exactly this kind of harm.

    I haven’t seen these specific ads in the US, but I’ve seen similar ones, which means that the FDA is sleeping on the job. We need to fix that.

  27. avern says

    @Ally

    “[A]vern and Carnation, talking to both of you, any more personal attacks and off-topic sniping and I will go further than just deleting posts.”

    It is very disingenuous of you to make this equivalence. My posts thus far have attempted to be on topic, and I have not once initiated an exchange with Carnation. I would be quite happy to not respond to any of his posts as long as you delete any posts he makes addressing me that are abusive.

    “My point, however, was that I still can’t see anything specifically horrendous about this particular ad to set people off, just something about it made a lot of people think ‘oh, fuck off.’”

    That’s because there is nothing horrendous at all about this ad. What’s happening is a quite ordinary escalation by an ideological mob. When a mob is threatened by the emergence of opposing ideologies that are gaining obvious traction, that mob will test the purity and zealotry of its adherents by demanding rage for ever more insignificant offenses. One day, they show loyalty for protesting against a professor stating his opinion about gender differences. The next day it’s over a protein supplement advert implying that certain bodies are sexy. The day after that it will involve an offense so vague and “inside baseball” that only true believers will be capable of understanding the source of their anger, and store windows will be bashed in before people even realize that the radicals were angry to begin with.

    @123454321

    “The media in general is just starting to latch on to the fact that men are becoming more and more objectified, unsurprisingly with the full and open support of women and the feminised BBC (see Poldark for evidence), whilst those same women still complain vehemently about the objectification of women, no matter how minor.”

    I find it absolutely illuminating, and, unfortunately, alarming how sympathetic people are being to the ludicrous amount of rage being shown to an advertisement that is actually far classier than many of the ads showing ripped and nude/nearly nude men. The news story here is NOT a mildly sexy tube ad; the story here is the vandalism that’s being applauded by feminist protestors and the fantasies of violence that are threatening to bubble over into violent acts that may cause significant harm. THAT’S what needs to be analyzed.

  28. Bugmaster says

    I sort of agree with avern, I think. Despite what I said in comment #30, I don’t think that vandalizing the billboard is the right answer to the problem. By analogy, if you say something I disagree with, spray-painting “fuck off” on your forehead is likewise the wrong answer.

  29. Bugmaster says

    @Thil #29:

    I agree. I think this is the same line of thought that brought us policies such as, “Children sometimes watch TV or access the Internet; there is currently lots of sexual imagery on TV and on the Internet; we don’t want our children to see this imagery; therefore, we need to remove all sexual imagery from TV and the Internet”.

  30. StillGjenganger says

    @Bugmaster 32
    I think it is overkill to talk about ‘vandalising’, here. All advertising is intrusive, and this is a particularly in-your-face example. If company X can splash these things in places where we just cannot avoid looking at them, having their ads defaced just goes with the territory. An organised campaign to do it – or smashing their windows – would be too much, but not this.

  31. lelapaletute says

    I’ve always thought all the fuss about objectification in the media is based on a rather pessimistic assumption. Namely that humans, usually men in particular, are incapable or learning to separate fantasies from reality.

    Well, Thil, the idea that our views can be partly shaped and our actions formed by media is hardly a wild idea – there have been SO many studies done on the pathetically suggestible nature of our species that it seems like the height of self-delusion to imagine that we are in complete control of our responses to deliberately manipulative and omni-present stimuli. This is why I believe advertising is, in many ways, more harmful than pornography, simply because of its ubiquity (at least for adults, who generally have some real-world experience to compare against porn that children don’t).

    And this is the real point. Maybe people can separate fantasy from reality with total rigour even subconsciously and against sustained attempts by the advertising industry. It’s the outside edge of possible, although the research would question that possibility. But here’s the thing:

    I don’t want other people’s fantasies rubbed in my face, particularly not when they implicate me in some way (these posters ask all women “are you beach body ready?” in an almost accusatory fashion, rather than simply glorying in the manifest readiness of the lady in question).

    This is why it is considered ill-mannered (for example) to masturbate at people you find attractive on the tube. “It’s just a fantasy, I’m not ACTUALLY going to have sex with them, so why can’t they just separate my harmless fantasy from reality?” you may ask. I would ask, “why should they have to? Why do they need to know about your fantasy in the first place? Keep it to your damn self, that’s kind of the point of a fantasy.”

    These posters (and millions like them) represent a collective cultural wank over unrealistic standards of physical perfection for women, right in women’s faces, every single day. And it is not the image of the hot woman that offends – good on her and/or her talented air-brusher – it’s the text implying that she is ‘ready’ and we (the rest of womankind) are ‘unready’, i.e. imperfect, incomplete, lacking.

    Avern and Numbers Boy: vandalism? Fucking please. Do you get all harrumphy every time you see a moustache drawn on all the women in a film poster, or one of those fake ‘information’ stickers stuck on the tube: http://www.buzzfeed.com/robinedds/the-greatest-fake-london-underground-signs-in-the-history#.is876vZvZQ? Is Banksy a vandal? Or is it just when feminists do it?

  32. Grotesque says

    This debate has been circling for a few years, I think. I’ve just done a very cursory newspaper search and it would appear that the mainstream press, presumably taking their cues from women’s magazines like Heat, has really escalated their use of the term ‘beach body ready’ in the last decade or so (I think the Mail online likely explains this to some degree as well). In response, the ‘wear a bikini, now you’re beach body ready’ meme has been knocking about my facebook feed for a couple of years, so something this blatant was obviously going to catch people’s eyes. The twitter reaction has then chucked a load of petrol on the fire, although it says a lot that people are prepared to spend money on overpriced protein in order to stick it to ‘SJWs’.

    I agree with the general point, though. The last time I was in London these posters stuck out as being, well, just grim. These posters and a giant, moving Samsung billboard that surrounded you were the worst offenders this time around. Travelling through London increasingly resembles walking through a Gretchen Bender installation. I’m not sure what the end-game on the Protein World protests are now, but wouldn’t it be nice if the radical challenge was about the scaling back of advertising in all our urban spaces? I wish some of the ‘men are degraded in advertising too’ brigade above could subscribe to that idea rather than the petty point scoring which seems to accompany these articles.

  33. 123454321 says

    “…but wouldn’t it be nice if the radical challenge was about the scaling back of advertising in all our urban spaces?”

    Yes, but what’s the betting that all the scantily-clad females on billboards would be replaced with scantily-clad males? – just like we’ve seen happen over the last 2 or 3 decades on mainstream TV.

    Double standards mostly based around the social pressures inflicted by whiny, jealous feminists who hate men looking at other women. But the other way around, yeah, that’s ALWAYS different, isn’t it!

    Do you guys not see what is happening right under your hairy nostrils? Can you not see where the social power, influence and cultural manipulation is coming from!

  34. Grotesque says

    I’m afraid I can’t subscribe to the idea that there is a shadowy cabal of feminists trying to replace images of half naked women with half naked men. Neo-liberal/digital/postmodern/late (delete as you see fit) capitalism seeks out new markets, and believes images of sexualised men may help to sell products. If I remember correctly, Naomi Wolf was making such warnings in 1991. In general I find those images of men pretty gross, but women’s bodies have been used in a similar way for decades. I’m not convinced, either, that there are now more images of men than there are of women in such poses — every study I read doesn’t suggest that, but really all you need to do is open your eyes or turn on the TV to see that is not true. I’d love to live in a world which hadn’t managed to commodify pretty much everything, including every facet of human sexuality, and I’d love if our common language and culture wasn’t so dominated by symbols of capitalsm. If you believe the same, there is more than enough common ground to fight with more than enough feminists to start a campaign. If you’re more concerned with ‘double standards’ then advertising is only going to get worse.

  35. Holms says

    #27 1234
    “In any case, as was proven in the last open thread, men are objectified far more often and in more alarmingly insidious ways than women are, but men are also trained by society not to complain or care about their own degradation…”

    Avern – You are spot on and 20 years ahead of your time.

    Just a quick note to nip this bit of active mythologising in the bud – neither of you proved squat in that thread.

    ___

    #31 avern
    It is very disingenuous of you to make this equivalence. My posts thus far have attempted to be on topic, and I have not once initiated an exchange with Carnation. I would be quite happy to not respond to any of his posts as long as you delete any posts he makes addressing me that are abusive.

    Your poor wounded feelings! Never mind the fact that you are by far the most consistently hostile participant in these threads.

  36. says

    Well. I thought your article was brilliantly written and I have been compelled to subscribe to a blog after I read this,

    “Of course it is immoral and ugly that commerce chases our money by poisoning our self-esteem then selling us the antidote but, hello, capitalism.”
    “it is the kind of thing that when historians recall the decades at the turn of the 21st century, will surely be held up as a representative symbol of our decadence.”

  37. avern says

    @Holms

    “Just a quick note to nip this bit of active mythologizing in the bud – neither of you proved squat in that thread.”

    We proved that feminists have zero evidence to support their claim that female nudity is more prevalent while we provided ample evidence to the contrary. You and every other feminist poster was absolutely spanked in that debate. It’s there for anyone to see, sorry.

    “Your poor wounded feelings! Never mind the fact that you are by far the most consistently hostile participant in these threads.”

    You’ve shown yourself to be a useless commenter once again. My stomping of trolls is not hostility.

  38. avern says

    Now feminist protesters are sending death threats to the staff at Protein World:

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/protein-world-staff-we-received-death-threats-over-sexist-tube-posters-10209207.html

    In summation, despite the fact that men are objectified and degraded in the media to a far greater extent than women, feminists have been supporting protests against a G-rated advert that have now included extensive vandalism, calls for violent action, and death threats. Feminist protestors have engaged in more verifiable criminal aggression in the past few weeks over this harmless ad than Gamergate has in the past nine months – and Gamergate is protesting something important.

  39. Bugmaster says

    I would argue that sending death threats is never ok, regardless of which depiction of whom is more prevalent where.

  40. 123454321 says

    #42 spot on again, avern – evidence of feminists manipulating their culture to work in favour of their own gender via threats of violence and damage to property, which leads to the double-standards we see all around us. That’s how they work. All down to jealousy, hatefulness and control. What else would drive them to such extreme measures?

  41. Ally Fogg says

    avern

    In summation, despite the fact that men are objectified and degraded in the media to a far greater extent than women,
    – [citation needed]

    feminists have been supporting protests against a G-rated advert that have now included extensive vandalism, calls for violent action, and death threats.
    – Some feminists and their supporters can indeed be monumental fuckwits at times.

    Feminist protestors have engaged in more verifiable criminal aggression in the past few weeks over this harmless ad than Gamergate has in the past nine months – and Gamergate is protesting something important.
    – [citation needed and also some medication to help me control this hysterical laughter]

  42. Marduk says

    The special thing about the advert is its lack of specialness, this is a very, very lazy piece of work to the point it becomes the purest expression of something we’ve been reading for 30+ years. The Mail has been a particular fan of the identical phrase since the 80s. I assume the agency involved spent no more than a couple of hours putting it together, probably just gave the client a choice of background colours and packshots. Nice work if you can get it.

    A lot of this has to do with the fact its in London where angry young columnists live. If Protein World was doing this in Gateshead I suspect this wouldn’t be happening.

    I don’t really understand that claim that the products are bad, they are selling multi-vitamins like your granny takes and whey protein which is something humans have been consuming since we invented cheese and is a good source of protein without carbohydrate. The power doesn’t taste nice, gives you wind and as it all comes out of the same factory, there is no need to pay for an expensive brand if you’re interested.

    There is something unfortunate that a gym supplement company is being targeted. They are at least advocating that women work on being healthy and strong by the nature of their product. The fashion mags will continue to tell women its better to be weak and emaciated and SJWs will continue to claim women are mentally too weak and lacking in resilience to cope with everyday life and nobody will mind any of that. Unfortunately it is possible protein world have a more positive message than many of their critics at this point.

    Advertising in the public commons, especially stations:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/live_at_politics/2015/04/matthew_crawford_discusses_his_new_book_the_world_beyond_your_head.html

  43. Holms says

    #41 avern
    We proved that feminists have zero evidence to support their claim that female nudity is more prevalent while we provided ample evidence to the contrary. You and every other feminist poster was absolutely spanked in that debate. It’s there for anyone to see, sorry.

    The only evidence relevant to that discussion would be a systematic review of many tv shows over some span of time, which you did not provide. What you did instead was imply that total nudity only counts as nudity if genitalia is visible, a direct consequence of which means that femals nudity counts for less in most camera angles and poses purely due to physiology, a silly diversion.

    You’ve shown yourself to be a useless commenter once again. My stomping of trolls is not hostility.

    Note that your response to my assertion – that you are hostile – contains a needless insult.

  44. 123454321 says

    avern – “In summation, despite the fact that men are objectified and degraded in the media to a far greater extent than women”
    Ally – “[citation needed]”

    Hey, Ally, If you want me to link to hundreds of examples of adverts/films objectifying/degrading men then perhaps an open thread 50 pages long full of links will be required for me. You may need half a page.

    You wanna play?

  45. Grotesque says

    123454321,

    I’ve been searching around on Google Scholar but can’t find a content analysis that supports your claims. A simple link to one will be a starting point. Failing that, your own content analysis (complete with methodology and results) would also be interesting. There is a general view that there has been an increase in the use of muscular men’s bodies in advertising – though many of these are targeted at men, but that women are about twice as likely to be shown wearing revealing clothing [1]. A 2011 study looking at Rolling Stones covers – which seems an interesting method – found,

    “Using a unique analytical framework that allows us to measure both the
    frequency and intensity of sexualization, we find that sexualized images of men and
    women have increased, though women continue to be more frequently sexualized
    than men. Yet our most striking finding is the change in how women—but not
    men—are sexualized. Women are increasingly likely to be ‘‘hypersexualized,’’ but
    men are not. These findings not only document changes in the sexualization of men
    and women in popular culture over time, they also point to a narrowing of the
    culturally acceptable ways for ‘‘doing’’ femininity as presented in popular media” [2]

    [1] http://virtualworker.pbworks.com/f/Advertising%20gender%20roles.pdf
    [2] http://seejane.org/wp-content/uploads/Hatton_Trautner_Sexuality_and_Culture.pdf

  46. Ally Fogg says

    12345 [48]

    Hey, Ally, If you want me to link to hundreds of examples of adverts/films objectifying/degrading men then perhaps an open thread 50 pages long full of links will be required for me. You may need half a page.

    I’m sure this has already been explained to you, but that would be completely and utterly useless and pointless. All it would tell you is that there are lots of such examples (which I don’t think anyone disputes)

    It wouldn’t tell you that there are more examples of objectified men than there are of objectified women.

    To do that, as Grotesque says above, you would need some kind of agreed methodology, standards and definitions as to what you mean by, for example, ‘objectified’ or ‘degrading’ and then you need some kind of objective method for appraising and quantifying those representations in both prevalence and degree.

    Unless you are suggesting that the entire sum total of all examples of women portrayed in objectifying and degrading ways from our entire culture could be contained on half a page?

    Because if you are really suggesting that, you have slipped so far off the rails of reality that I don’t know where to begin. I reckon I could fill half a page just with the sidebar from the Mail website.

  47. Jacob Schmidt says

    In any case, as was proven in the last open thread, men are objectified far more often and in more alarmingly insidious ways than women are…

    You literally admitted that you had not proven that claim in the thread in question. Admittedly, you blamed me for that but the fact remains: by your own words you have proven nothing.

  48. 123454321 says

    Ally – Fine, let’s talk about the standards & definitions of what constitutes human objectification and how one defines what it means to be degraded. Note I used the term “human”.

    Then follows the methodology, appraisal and quantification.

  49. proudmra says

    I loved the comment in the article that said “I’m so tired of the message that women have to make some kind of effort.” Really sums up the entitlement attitude, doesn’t it?

  50. Carnation says

    @ Grotesque
    @ Ally Fogg

    I was thinking about hypersexualized content versus (?) depictions of hypermasculinity/sexual objectification of men (Ally has written about this before, I think).

    This link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTZudY579Zs is to a short advert for Imperial Leather shampoo, featuring an almost naked Paulo Di Canio and a woman who’d be quite keen to have him get into her bath. Leaving aside the jokey nature and intent of the advert, is De Cannio being objectified? Or appearing as an example of hypermasculinity?

    Ditto, the David Beckham’s pants advert – to me, Beckham (like Di Canno) is being objectified (possibly due to celeb status), but is being used as a barometer of a largely unattainable presentation of masculinity.

    What do you think?

  51. Grotesque says

    @Carnation

    Yes, you’ve hit the immediate problem that researchers are going to come across using a content analysis: there is no like-for-like comparison between representations of masculine sexuality and feminine sexuality. Avoiding academic gibberish as much as I can, this is where textual analysis is going to become useful. Broadly speaking, the vast majority of sexualised images of men are, to some degree, going to be ‘stories men tell about men’, whereas the vast majority of sexualised images of women are going to be ‘stories men tell about women’. Granted, there are some examples which are simply objectification, and they get trotted out often enough – I think the Galaxy advert and Diet Coke adverts jump out because they are so rare and those images are so comfortable in inviting a female or queer gaze without any sort of compromise. Beckham is much more complicated than those images. Often the most interesting celebrities are doing the heaviest ideological legwork, of which Beckham almost undoubtedly is, including in the advert mentioned. IE he’s working class but hangs out with royalty; he’s in touch with his feminine side but masculine highly masculine; he’s a family man that has possibly had affairs; etc etc – that image has got every tension that the post-industrial man is expected to live up to.

  52. 123454321 says

    Carnation, this is exactly what I’m talking about and thank you for at least almost half recognising that those adverts could be male objectification. I think 100% that they are, but how many people does it take to acknowledge and speak out about this until it forces a level of acceptability change to the point that it would then be deemed politically incorrect to objectify men in the media just as it has been politically incorrect to objectify women for the last few decades? It WILL change, Carnation, it’s just a matter of time.

    There have been hundreds of adverts like this over recent years, which objectify men. Women don’t complain. Men are shamed if they complain, and therefore most don’t. Many men feel they are strong enough to rise above it – the REAL men! I have never said amongst my circle of friends that I find the double standard offensive as I imagine most men wouldn’t due to the shaming stigma. Many men (and women) are now speaking out on the internet about male objectification, and about time too, as it is potentially damaging to young males and at the same time makes women look pretty damned pathetic and childish as they follow the crowds of people supporting this material whilst quite often themselves – sometimes very aggressively – making lots of noise about the slightest hint of female objectification. Not good for feminism, me thinks.

    Personally, I wouldn’t give a crap if everyone walked around naked, or everyone covered themselves from head to toe in real life or on TV or in adverts. It’s the double standard that gets my goat, the fact that there would never be an advert these days whereby a sexy woman provocatively stripped almost naked for a man lying in the bath. This is sending out messages and polarising the sexes from a very early age. I think it’s all very dangerous.

  53. 123454321 says

    “Broadly speaking, the vast majority of sexualised images of men are, to some degree, going to be ‘stories men tell about men’, whereas the vast majority of sexualised images of women are going to be ‘stories men tell about women’. ”

    I don’t think so. Advertising in particular is fully aware these days of the pressures surrounding the consequences of offending their female customers. Right from the very outset in the marketing boardroom it is a no-no to risk offending the female audience. Men don’t matter as much because they generally don’t complain (although they are starting to and it’s likely to escalate). So it’s all scripted and mastered around the images and stories that “women” like to see, or will accept.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the odd advert with a woman seductively stripping for a guy in a bath. But it ain’t gonna happen and we all know why!

  54. averna says

    @holms

    “What you did instead was imply that total nudity only counts as nudity if genitalia is visible, a direct consequence of which means that femals nudity counts for less in most camera angles and poses purely due to physiology, a silly diversion.”

    This woefully inadequate interpretation only highlights your lack of reading comprehension. Luckily, that entire thread is available so no one has to rely on biased misreadings.

    “Note that your response to my assertion – that you are hostile – contains a needless insult.”

    An accurate descriptor is neither hostile or an insult.

    @Jacob Schmidt

    “You literally admitted that you had not proven that claim in the thread in question. Admittedly, you blamed me for that but the fact remains: by your own words you have proven nothing.”

    You once again attempt to confuse with the use of gibberish since you have no arguments of your own. The only person who steadfastly refused to back up his argument in that thread was you.

    @Ally

    “– [citation needed]”

    Don’t even pretend to be concerned with citations Ally. How about this–I’ll compile a list of all empirical claims made by you and other posters from the last few threads, and once those are answered to my satisfaction, then I’ll provide you with citations. Deal?

    “– [citation needed and also some medication to help me control this hysterical laughter]”

    You sound a little unhinged. Maybe some sleep and a nice bowel movement and you’ll regain normal emotional responsiveness.

    “– Some feminists and their supporters can indeed be monumental fuckwits at times.”

    Um, they’re not just being “fuckwits.” They’re being criminals and thugs. But you seem to be more worried about scary capitalism selling protein powders to the fragile, unsuspecting citizenry.

  55. Marduk says

    Following our theoretically informed discussion of Objectification the other day, this is an interesting example of the other kind of “objectification” (which is not Objectification) that there seems to be a lot of confusion around. I think the confusion stems from a confusion about when a type of comment is rhetoric and when it is literal. That comment would be something like “they are treating her like a piece of meat”.

    Objectification is about the gaze and the relationship between subject and viewer. In this case that gaze is clearly not that of the possessing male and the passive female. In fact, what might be really getting under people’s skin is how much this isn’t Objectification, she is glaring at the viewer and if you think about where the eyeline is there, she is literally looking down on the observer.

    But as this is an advert for a gym supplement, it is fair to say we are being asked to admire the model’s body. This is a matter of theory of mind, not sexual politics. Studies show that when this manipulation is made that viewers think of a person in terms of their physicality, this actually isn’t as such a bad thing, its just a different thing. Studies show they are actually less likely to think of a person as a ‘sex object’ as much as a corporeal being whose comfort, protection and health need to be particularly thought about. People of both sexes will tend to think ambiguous descriptions of rape are even more unacceptable than normal. So actually, if someone thinks of you as literally a piece of meat, sex is about the last thing on their minds. Which is comforting both as a person other people look at and for those working on Sainsbury’s beef and pork aisle.

  56. Grotesque says

    @123

    Again, that doesn’t really match up with any study of advertising that I have read. Then again, I am only aware of Sean Nixon’s /Advertising Cultures/, which is fairly old now, so will happily reevaluate my ideas based on any studies you want to offer.

    Realistically, very few advertisers deliberately seek to offend to anyone, including the Protein World advert above. What tends to happen is that audiences and consumers have become so fragmented that adverts are designed to speak to a very particular demographic, with non-demographic consumers ignored or simply not considered in the design process. It works when you’re advertising in places where only those demographics read, but is less consistent in ‘old’ media spaces (television and billboards in particular). I highly, highly doubt that advertisers are cowering at the thought of a very small number of feminists starting a petition. Out of interest, your ideological view seems to be based around feminists having much, much more power than they have in actuality — why wish or attribute power to someone you consider to be an ‘enemy’?

  57. StillGjenganger says

    In fact, what might be really getting under people’s skin is how much this isn’t Objectification, she is glaring at the viewer and if you think about where the eyeline is there, she is literally looking down on the observer.

    Certainly true for me. A conventional piece of eye candy I would just let my eye slide over, maybe without noticing it. This one is very hard to not notice. Though I would be unable to prove how much I object to the intrusion in my mind and how much I object to being put in a dominated position ;-).

  58. 123454321 says

    “Out of interest, your ideological view seems to be based around feminists having much, much more power than they have in actuality”

    One (or a number) sent bomb threats to Protein World – that’s terrorism. If not powerful, certainly fucking stupid and crazy. They people (certainly feminists) are obviously TRYING their damnedest to be powerful and you can’t deny that their power so far has brought an end to many a campaign. all while at the same time they ignore the campaigns with the gender reversed, which shows the self-centred nature and hypocrisy of their actions.

  59. Carnation says

    @ 123454321

    “Carnation, this is exactly what I’m talking about and thank you for at least almost half recognising that those adverts could be male objectification. I think 100% that they are, but how many people does it take to acknowledge and speak out about this until it forces a level of acceptability change to the point that it would then be deemed politically incorrect to objectify men in the media just as it has been politically incorrect to objectify women for the last few decades? It WILL change, Carnation, it’s just a matter of time.”

    You have absolutely, completely and perfectly misunderstood the point that I have made.

    @ Grotesque

    This is interesting. I subscribe to the notion of “gazes”, the default of today’s society being a generic “male gaze” (which I would describe as being patriarchal, Ally coined the phrase “patriarchal misandry” I think this is apt). So in a sense, Beckham is being viewed in the same way as, say, Kate Moss advertising a fragrance. Not so much sex appeal, as perfection appeal, unattainable perfection appeal. The De Cannio ad, lighthearted as it is, has more in common with the “Hello boys” Wonderbra adverts of the 90s/

    Fellows like 123454321 are afflicted with an MRA Gaze. That particular gaze is basically like a hyper-readfem gaze but with the genders flipped.

  60. StillGjenganger says

    @Carnation 63

    That particular gaze is basically like a hyper-readfem gaze

    Is there such a thing as a ‘hyper-radfem gaze’? I thought that, mathematically, infinity times 1.5 was still equal to infinity ;-).

  61. Carnation says

    @ GJGanger

    I will re-phrase, their gaze is akin to a pseudo-radfem gaze. It lacks the theoretical underpinning and academic gravitas, but is every bit as ridiculous.

  62. proudmra says

    So, should we add ‘fit-shaming’ to the list of radfem crimes against their own doctrine, along with ‘skinny shaming’? This gives me a chuckle. “How dare the media show images of attractive people! They make me feel bad about myself, and that’s WRONG.”

  63. Holms says

    #58 averna
    This woefully inadequate interpretation only highlights your lack of reading comprehension. Luckily, that entire thread is available so no one has to rely on biased misreadings.

    Yes, luckily; otherwise your active mythologising would be much more difficult to counter.

    An accurate descriptor is neither hostile or an insult.

    Hence, me calling you hostile in the first place. Are we going to go around the same circle again?

    Nice name change by the way, did you get put into active moderation or something?

  64. avern says

    “Yes, luckily; otherwise your active mythologising would be much more difficult to counter.”

    I don’t need to mythologize. Your failure to make your argument on that thread remains plain as day.

    “Hence, me calling you hostile in the first place. Are we going to go around the same circle again?”

    So now you’re admitting that you used a non sequitur to derail the conversation. It would also be an accurate descriptor to call you a troll.

  65. Jacob Schmidt says

    “You literally admitted that you had not proven that claim in the thread in question. Admittedly, you blamed me for that but the fact remains: by your own words you have proven nothing.”
    You once again attempt to confuse with the use of gibberish since you have no arguments of your own. The only person who steadfastly refused to back up his argument in that thread was you.

    I said nothing about backing up an argument: I freely admit that you postured very well in that thread. No, I was instead referring to your comment where you admit that you hadn’t actually proven that men were more objectified.

    All the posturing and anecdotes in the world don’t constitute proof, I’m afraid.

  66. Holms says

    #68 averna
    I don’t need to mythologize.

    And yet you continue to do so.

    So now you’re admitting that you used a non sequitur to derail the conversation.

    No, you said that terminology that is accurate is permissable, so I called you hostile because that is highly accurate. Also, I don’t think you know what the word ‘admit’ means.

  67. StillGjenganger says

    @Jacob Schmidt, Avern, Holms
    Do you think it is interesting to discuss at length who did not call whom what and why?
    I find it boring reading, myself.
    If you want to avoid it, try not answering back. Your opponent will then stand revealed to the world as the last person to make a tedious, combative comment.

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