Do you realize that the world is currently facing one of the biggest crises in the history of… ummm… well, history? I didn’t either until I stumbled upon this:
Thanks to the mystery speaker, who we know is smarter than us because of his gray hair and British-esqe accent, one of modern history’s greatest threats has now been outed and it’s solution identified. So what’s this crisis? Well, according to Unilever (the makers of Axe) and their fake professor, women are getting hotter. This results in men, who are nothing more than mindless impulse driven creatures, being unable to control themselves. So what’s a fella to do? Buy some of that manly looking Axe Chill stuff of course! It’s been specially formulated to keep us cool and collected “before it’s too late” (i.e. we do something stupid).
Now, while Unilever and their mystery science guy are trying to draw our attention toward a fake global crisis, there’s a real one (okay, many) going on that we should actually be concerned about. The crisis I’m referring to? Idiots who perpetuate the idea that men are unable to control themselves around women. I get really aggravated when I see or hear people promoting this idea because 1. It’s idiotic on so many levels and 2. It has real world consequences. Some men use the belief as a way to justify all sorts of messed up behavior and as a society we often let them.
No matter how much we like to promote the opposite, men do in fact have the capacity for self control around women (imagine that). Look, I hate to break it to you but a woman’s body is not some sort of mobile mind control device. Tin foil hats are not required. I’ve found that it’s quite possible to be in the presence of someone you find attractive and not crash into things, light stuff on fire or worse yet inappropriately hit-on or harass them. Men make choices every day. Respectful men make respectful choices. Sure, sometimes we make stupid choices as a result of love, attraction, desire or flat out horniness. Lord knows I’ve made my fair share. But stupid or not, I fully recognize that no one mind controlled me into any of the stupid choices I made. For someone to say they couldn’t control themselves around a woman because of ____ is at best nothing more than a culturally accepted way to absolve oneself of responsibility. At worst, it’s flat out victim blaming.
Unilever plays the lack of control excuse for laughs here, but in reality this line of thinking can cause real problems. It’s the same line of thinking held by harassers, rapists and their apologizers. Far too often, when a woman is abused, sexually harassed or assaulted people start dropping victim blaming comments like; she shouldn’t have been dressed like that, she shouldn’t have drank that much, she shouldn’t have been there that night, or she led him on, she was asking for it, or she acted older than her chronological age. All of these statements take the blame off the perpetrator. All of these statements imply that the perpetrator had no choice because, women’s bodies be like mind controlling men and stuff… duh! If you clicked all of the links I provided, you probably noticed a trend; in most of these cases, the perpetrator was allowed to walk or at worst given minimal punishment. Such is the power of these backwards, victim blaming beliefs.
Of course an ad for Axe’s stinky products doesn’t go there. It stays in relatively “safe” territory by only depicting these boys/men doing stupid things like crashing into cars and each other, or lighting their chemistry classrooms on fire. No rape (because that wouldn’t sell Axe now would it?) but there is plenty of potential street harassment. Sure, we never see the guys talk directly to any of the women and it seems the women are oblivious to the absurdity happening around them. That doesn’t mean however that the women aren’t noticing tons of guys staring as they try to go about their days. Men get into fights all the time when someone stares at them on the street, but women are supposed to like that nonsense? Negro, please! Taking things a step further, who’s to say other women on the street don’t notice these guys acting like jackasses? It’s not hard to imagine that watching a bunch of men stare and bump into things could make other women on the street feel uncomfortable, even if the previous target is oblivious.
But wait, it doesn’t stop there! Making jokes about possible street harassment wasn’t enough for Unilever, so their second ad in the series takes the concept a step further:
As you saw, the ad makes this absurd claim; “there was a time when guys accomplished great things” until of course “women everywhere began getting hotter.” In this ad we see men choosing to stop directly in front of a random group of women doing yoga so they can stare and drool. Anyone with a brain and a heart can only imagine how objectified the women might feel as men slowly gather around them, drooling like mindless zombies.
According to Unilever, because women are getting hotter (which seems to just mean wearing tighter clothes in addition to being rail thin… also white, always white), we men are losing the ability to not only control ourselves but also to do “great things.” The proposed solution of course is to buy stinky Unilever products. But that’s merely a distraction from their underlying point. What is Unilever really implying here? That Men were more productive and exhibited greater self control when women wore more clothing and were less visible. Hmmm, I could swear I’ve heard that idea pushed somewhere else before…
Anyway, here are a few choice I’d like us all to consider; First, consider refusing to support Axe and/or Unilever by not purchasing their products. Feel free to take it a step further by writing them letters (or tweets/status updates) of complaint. Then, encourage boys and men in your life to be free thinking, caring human beings around women (or whoever they’re attracted to). How? Start by talking to your boys and men about what it means to respect women on the streets, at school, in the bedroom, or after a night of drinking. Also, avoid using the types of victim blaming statements I listed above and correct people you hear saying those things. Finally, please remember this… women’s bodies, no matter how attractive we may find them, do not have mind control powers over men. Don’t let Unilever or anyone else tell you otherwise.