Everything is officially manly now

You know what’s really manly? Wearing diapers.

If you need to wear some special protection as you get older, there’s no shame in it, and like the ad says, “millions of guys deal with the same thing.” But so do millions of women. Rather than pandering to masculine sensitivities and encouraging people to mentally segregate themselves, why can’t we say these problems are a human thing? All these products with the marketing ploy of “for men” or “for women” (unless, of course, they’re actually dealing with unique aspects of the biology of the sexes) are just shoring up walls between us.


  1. says

    “unless, of course, they’re actually dealing with unique aspects of the biology of the sexes”

    Perhaps the product in question DOES qualify for that. I’d have thought men and women would use different brands of that product, so would have different campaigns.

  2. marcoli says

    But the guydiaper can be MANLY. It can have a faux leather look, and be packaged in a box that is made to look like rugged steel held together with bolts ‘an stuff.

  3. James says

    …are just shoring up walls between us..

    In an article about diapers? That’s just begging for a snarky comment.

  4. hillaryrettig says

    Don’t forget the “Guard your manhood.” These guys aren’t insecure at all.

  5. hillaryrettig says

    Seriously, though, I have trouble coming down on this too much. It’s trying to help guys through a very difficult period in their lives.

  6. crocodoc says

    The website and the commercial video address the common prejudice that wearing diapers is “not manly”. The resulting insecurity is just a fact that, as a diaper manufacturer, you have to deal with. I like it.

  7. says

    Rather than pandering to masculine sensitivities and encouraging people to mentally segregate themselves, why can’t we say these problems are a human thing?

    Because then you can’t charge women more for the same product.

  8. borax says

    As a nurse who just spent 12 hours of taking care of multiple incontinent patients, I can only say its time for me to go to bed.

  9. René says

    As I’m reading the comments here, I suddenly realized there is a program on the tv (yeah, I know, I’m supposed not to be able to multitask) about colon problems even with young people (Crohn’s, a.o.). These youngsters most of the time don’t even dare to leave the house unless they haven’t eaten. No alcohol, no coffee ever. No mention of them wearing diapers tho’.

    Touching wood, right now.*
    * not really

  10. borax says

    Oh wait. I do wish that more men were comfortable wearing some type of diaper or pad. While I find the commercial annoying, more women are willing to take precautions while most of my male patients live in denial. Now I’m really going to bed.

  11. says

    It really is sad. I don’t know how many decent men I’ve heard say, in conversation, something to the effect that they aren’t a “real manly man but…” And invariably they mean that they aren’t loud, obnoxious, violent, and hate-filled. And I wonder why that is what MEN want to define being a man as.

    Yet I see the culture gladly encourage things like BK quadruple stackers as “manly.” I see the word “mancation” appear in the language. I see beverage companies have to make entirely separate lines of diet drinks to get men to drink them (use lots of black in the packaging!!!). And I wonder what the hell is wrong with these men that they need special food and special words to make them feel like a man. I would have thought the biology covered that.

    I think the entire obsession with women’s reproduction and with “manliness” is some sort of reaction that male culture needs to deal with. They can’t have babies, deal with it. As far as I can tell, the rest of it this all an unnecessary self-imposed inferiority complex that is being over-compensated for – a self designed role they’ve created as a complement to the woman’s role of giving birth. Sadly, very little of that is things that women can’t do, so there is a very strong need to keep women away from those things so that men can feel manly doing their men things that are simply people things.

    I’m far more impressed with men who are comfortable in their manhood without having to bully women or weaklings to prove it. The culture puts a lot of pressure on boys and young men to not turn out that way. But they were strong, and man, enough to get through it. I’d rather someone prove their worth as a person than prove their worth as a gender stereotype.

    This is important in so many ways too. How many people voted for W. because he was more manly than Gore? Far too many, I suspect.

  12. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Remember, while there is “Hanes Her Way”, you will not see “Olga For Him”.

  13. Trebuchet says

    I’m pretty sure the “manly” diapers actually are constructed differently from the female version, just as male and female humans are. The ones I had to wear for a couple of months after getting hurt were. That said, I’ve been guffawing at the ad campaign for a couple of months now. I didn’t feel very “manly” while wearing mine.

  14. jose says

    “why can’t we say these problems are a human thing?”

    Because that would be like admitting that women aren’t garbage! No no no no, I won’t carry my makeup in my purse as I go down to the beauty salon to have my legs waxed. I will carry my urban camouflage in my handbag as I go down to the hair salon to get a he-wax! Which is totally different because it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything women do!

    Go ahead, google all that. They’re all real.

  15. ChasCPeterson says

    In the first place, attributing ulterior motives (i.e. intent) to advertisers is silly, since their single goal is to sell shit to people. They decide who to try to sell shit to, then push the buttons of that target demo intentionally, and they test it it and focus-group it and aren’t being stupid.
    So I don’t know why they’d really be expected to give a shit about shoring up the very attitudes they are pandering to.

    And in this case there’s good reason to believe, as others have mentioned, that the product really is sex-specific in design and intent.

    Have you seen the Diet Dr. Pepper ads that push the manly-man trope to ironic extreme? uh, let’s see…this is the one I mean.
    I suspect that it’s brilliant: women who like that shit (DDP) can laugh it off as obvious parody, while the ‘manly’ worm burrows deep into the subconscious of men and make it OK to drink DDP even though they see the irony on a conscious level and can probably laugh about it with their friends who give them shit but in a good-natured way because they got the worm too.
    Maybe I’m overthinking. But I doubt I overthink more than the advertising people themselves.

  16. says

    I was googling “urban camouflage” and found this.

    The Men Pen
    A step beyond a regular concealer, the Men Pen is larger and is meant to cover more areas. Although it resembles a woman’s stick foundation the Men Pen comes in 16 different shades and can easily be smoothed onto your skin for quick coverage where-needed. So basically the main use is to even out the skin tone and cover imperfections such as blemishes, pores, scars, moles, bumps, razor burn, and more. …

    So, it not only “resembles” foundation, it “is” foundation.

    Must go now, as I need to restart my Man-Computer. Which is nothing like a Lady-Computer. Lady-Computers run “applications” while mine runs manly things, like “programs.”

  17. roro80 says

    It is almost axiomatic that the most terrible insults you can give to men are to imply any sort of feminine qualities. P*ssy, little girl, little b*tch, [sports skill] like a girl, pansy, any number of expressions having to do with tampons or periods; then you have the entire slew of ubiquitous homophobic insults, in which the implication is that the worst thing about being gay is that you’re a man who is like a woman in xyz ways. As such, I imagine it’s tough to get men to use a product that is essentially a panty liner or a maxi pad. Sorry, but that’s not what a diaper looks like, adult or otherwise.

    From an advertising standpoint, this makes total sense. From a cultural perspective, it says some amazingly fucked up things about how rigidly the gender divide is enforced, and how we think about women.

  18. says

    roro80, I went on the Wintery Knight blog recently and read a post about the horrible murder of the soldier Lee Rigby in South East London. While moaning about how liberals were likely to make political hay out of this murder (“They’ll say it was religion that caused”), WK went on to make his own political hay out of it. He and a commenter started saying that if this had happened in the US, some passer-by would have had a gun and could have stopped what was happening. The two then went on to discuss the shortcomings of British men, saying they had become ‘feminized’, and that British men would probably just stare at a gun in the manner of an ape confronted with a computer.

    Ignoring the first point (If this had happened in the US the murderers may well have had guns themselves and killed many more than one person), I pointed out that it was astonishingly disrespectful to use ‘feminized’ as an insult when two women had shown great courage in confronting the still-blood-soaked murders in order to protect near-by children.

    Not surprisingly I got no response.

  19. says

    Gawd, I have really mixed emotions about this particular marketing campaign. The whole “it’s manly”, calling them shields and guards instead of diapers and liners, and the deliberate attempt to distance itself from any feminine or infantilizing resemblance to other like products just rubs me the wrong way. I agree with the OP on that angle.

    But (come on, you knew I was going to say it), for this particular product, it will help a lot of men be OK with dealing with their incontinence. I’ve seen men with this problem, particularly older men though not exclusively, that become virtual hermits because they would not wear “no damn pant liner!” Changing the perception of this product will help get it into the pants of many men who need them. It shouldn’t be necessary, but at the moment, it is.

    It is marketing campaigns like DDP &Urban Camouflage et al that helps maintain that mentality. I reject and condemn those campaigns for all of the reasons cited by PZ. But I’m giving Depends a pass.

  20. Numenaster says

    In fact, man diapers and woman diapers ARE constructed differently. The absorbent patch is different in size and shape, and somewhat larger in the man diapers. The stretchy “underwear” part is tapered differently to accomodate the different proportions of men’s and women’s hips. And of course the boxes are different colors :)

    And I’m going to take a minute to brag on my 58-year-old guy, who has unlearned using “pussy” and its synonyms to mean “weak” because I objected. Anyone can change, if they want to. Even dudes raised in the 60’s who still buy into a lot of gender essentialist nonsense.

  21. Steve LaBonne says

    barbayau @ 13: That frankly, is why, when my then wife was pregnant 21 years ago, I was hoping for a daughter. (I got my wish, and she’s awesome). I somehow felt more able to inoculate a daughter against the toxic definitions of femininity in our culture than to protect a son from toxic ideas of masculinity. Maybe because, as an un-athletic nerd who has never identified with the usual American ideas about what men are “supposed” to be, the latter would have meant dealing all over again with the kinds of shit (and kinds of people) that made me miserable in school.

  22. RFW says

    Thanks to deteriorated disks damaging innervation of the GU tract, I drip. Fortunately, Walmart, the mother and father of all evil, sells absorbent pads to curb the menace. (Not every drug store does.) These come in two designs, one for women, one for men, thanks to the differing designs of their respective genitalia.

    If you, or anyone you know, suffers from drip, do them a favor: take them to Walmart to buy a bale of such pads. They’re cheap.

    There’s nothing unmanly (or unwomanly) about not wanting to stink like an old man with poor hygiene. Cuts down the laundry load a little, too.

  23. roro80 says

    numenaster #24 — if you follow the link in the OP, the products advertised don’t even have the underwear part. They really do look like maxi pads. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if, prior to this product’s release, doctors actually recommended maxi pads to serve this need. I get it, men are terrified of buying feminine products in the store for their wives and girlfriends; it must be much worse for this type of man to buy feminine products for use on himself. But it’s still totally fucked up that that’s the case. As I’ve said many many times in the past: there is no more delicate flower than Masculinity.

    And I totally agree that people can change, which is the good thing.

  24. frog says

    Distancing adult diapers from “infant” products makes sense–no adult wants to be considered an infant. Infants are weak and helpless and need protection. Adults want to believe they can stand on their own and be in control of their own bodies.

    The problem with the “it’s manly” version of this trope is that it strongly implies that “womanly” = “infantile,” which is the fucking definition of sexism.

    Somehow Viagra managed to market itself without a lot of “don’t be a girl!” bullshit. They managed to convey, “Hey, impotence happens, and no one likes it, and we have a way to help you out with it.” Any implication of “so you can BE A MAN AGAIN” was, if present at all, rather subtle. Even those ridiculous “supplement” commercials aren’t so obnoxious–they try to be lighthearted in their “Now Bob has pep in his step again!” approach.

  25. Numenaster says


    That’s what I get for talking from memory. I only ever had to stock up the underwear-type ones, didn’t even check the link. Bad skeptic!

  26. Numenaster says

    That was supposed to read, “Bad skeptic! {slaps own hand}”.

    Forgot that pointy brackets are parsed as HTML, too. Bad engineer!

    Man, I’d better go do something I’m better at than this.

  27. qwerty says

    Having to buy Depends for my mother; I believe that these products maybe shaped differently for both of the sexes.

    Anyhow, I don’t look forward to the day when I may need these.

  28. qwerty says

    I clicked on the link. A free sample. Why not go for it guys! I think I’ll try it. Nothing to lose except maybe some misbegotten male pride.

  29. Hatchetfish says

    “You know what’s really manly? Wearing diapers.”

    Ok, I admit, first thought through my head reading that was one of the worst movies never to air on MST3K, “Zardoz”, but after that terrible visage faded, right the fuck on. I’m now reminded of the ‘boys or girls toys’ flowchart, something to the effect of “Do you use it with your genitals? No? Then anyone can use it.” Seems to apply here. Tampons (seemingly, maybe I’m not inventive enough) excepted, pretty sure absorbent things work with either set.

    Also I’ve never understood what’s so frightening about bodily functions and the equipment to deal with them, particularly those of a woman. I knew a guy in college who would bolt from the room if conversation even hinted it was turning toward menstruation. It occurs to me just now that in retrospect it’s utterly unsurprising he spent some time after college as a PUA…

  30. witlesschum says

    I think you’re attributing enhanced powers of rationality and skepticism to advertising professionals without much evidence. I don’t think there’s anything unique to that profession that makes them more able to set aside their own prejudices, in fact, I think given how much of advertising is bullshitting people for living, you might suppose the opposite. Plus, there’s also the ‘fishing lures are designed to catch fishermen, not fish’ issue.

  31. Rey Fox says

    At first I thought it was going to be over-the-top ironic masculinity, which is also getting a tad stale these days.