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May 11 2009

Hugs, Twisty: the continuing binary genderfication of America, and the introduction of the Ditwuss Awards

Blamer Kate reports via Blackberry from the West Coast:

Dear Twisty,

A laughably obnoxious ad cluster I spotted at the intersection of 6th and Anza in San Francisco while doing my very dudely pizza delivery work:

Pepsi ad, obnoxioux

[For those of you who can't make out the slogans in the photo:

"Save the calories for bacon."
"0 calories. Great taste. Welded together."
"No gut. All glory."]

Dear Blamer Kate,

Thank you for sharing the stupid ad for this stupid soda. You may or may not be acquainted with an even stupider TV commercial for this stupid soda wherein the product is described as consisting of wolverine spit and scorpion venom, packaged in a macho black can made from the hull of a nukular [sic] submarine. Dudes crush the “submarine” with their bare hands. “Pepsi Max. The first diet cola for men.” You can watch it here.

What’s the big whoop? Well, you can’t have a “soda for men” unless “men” are considered a class unto themselves, defined in terms of the bacon-eating, welding, glorious nukular submarine-squashing aspirations that separate them from dainty vulnerable “women.” These ads are jokey, depicting average-looking dudes, but they tacitly allude to the noxious he-man/fragile damsel dichotomy that’s been chapping actual women’s hides lo these many millennia.

So Pepsi wins I Blame the Patriarchy’s first-ever Ditwuss (DTWS, or “Degrades the Whole Species”) Award.

Hugs,
Twisty

43 comments

5 pings

  1. Nolabelfits

    I watched the commercial in silence as I am at work right now, but whats up with the macho crushing-of-the-can-with-one-hand crap? You don’t even need to hear this commercial to see what genderized crap it is. But then, I can’t really think of a commercial offhand that is NOT genderized crap.

  2. Jezebella

    I do find some consolation in the fact that men who eat “manly” diets should, in theory, die a lot faster.

  3. Notorious Ph.D.

    “Ditwuss.” Love.

  4. Orange

    I thought Coke One was the first diet cola for men.

    Don’t be too hard on Pepsi. The American Family Association is boycotting Pepsi because Pepsi is too gay-friendly.

    That Pepsi–it makes the head explode with the contradictions.

  5. Dr Stephen Dann

    Oh no. I’d only recently commented in my marketing class that Pepsi Max was sold in Australia as a sports energy drink without most of the diet drink baggage. Now this happens…

  6. Citizen Jane

    Pepsi could totally take some sexism lessons from Coke. They wish they could be half the patriarchy-spreading device that Coke is.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p41SaeSZGgI&feature=player_embedded

  7. no fun

    On the topic of obnoxious advertising, I recently passed a dude wearing a black t-shirt with large pink text that read something like, “Fight for a nice rack.” As I got closer, I realized there was small surrounding text that said something about supporting breast cancer research.

    The part that really gets me is that I’m sure he thinks he’s wonderful, witty, and feminist for wearing the thing.

  8. humanbein

    This is why I refuse to identify myself as a man even though I have all the necessary parts. Masculinity is evil. Also why there are no feminist men. You can’t identify as masculine without identifying with oppression.

  9. slade

    When I pointed out this commercial to my mother, she said, ‘Are men really that stupid?’ She’s becoming quite the Blamer!

  10. Pulsar

    Any diet drink/bar/food is by default designated as feminine, given that it is women who should be constantly monitoring their weight and general appearance. Therefore, aspiring “masculine” men that are trying to lose weight are faced with a dilemma–if they consume diet foods, they are at risk of seeming feminine. Thus Pepsi kindly solves men’s embarrassing predicament by creating a manly testosterone drink for men, predictably labeled Pepsi MAX.

  11. Ziodyne

    Nolabelfits: Because clearly it’s so hard for a woman to crush an aluminium can with one hand.

    Oh, wait. Never mind; they’re just associating a (in this context) aggressive act with masculinity… And applying that masculinity to an object that has no earthly reason to, ever, be gendered. Except it’s diet, so it’s automatically for women. Have to counteract that sissy connotation, after all.

    Well, I know who I blame.

  12. Kate Dino

    This is better even than Liquid Egg Product’s “Worthless Blogger” award. You should do a badge for it.

  13. wisewebwoman

    H’m I keep thinking Maxi Pads, maybe da menz will stay away in droves from this obnoxious product.

  14. ElizaN

    I’ve seen more appealing things in my cat box.

  15. yttik

    “Masculinity is evil.”

    Actually yes, the way it is culturally defined and marketed, it really is evil. Sad, because men are really quite wonderful when they aren’t jumping thru cultural hoops or practicing their learned behavior.

  16. Marinus

    In case you guys aren’t aware, one of the dairy companies here in New Zealand has a long-running campaign that runs:
    Milk for Blokes.
    Real taste, less fat.
    Another way guys have it good.
    http://kiwiwala.blogspot.com/2008/03/milk-for-blokes.html
    There’s no mention of this campaign on the company’s official site, it’s just a little lump of retardation they decided to drop into our urban environment.

  17. Laughingrat

    Well, you can’t have a “soda for men” unless “men” are considered a class unto themselves

    This is one of those important points–probably the most important point!–but it’s so all-pervasive that it slips under the radar for most people. It’s just taken for granted that men are men and women are women and of course they need different everything, from rules to food products.

  18. slythwolf

    It’s not just “soda for men”; it’s “diet soda for men”, because only women will consent to drink conventional diet soda, which apparently doesn’t taste enough like “real” soda to be worth the calorie savings. To men, that is. Women will do anything to lose weight.

    But there’s an obesity “crisis” in this country, so men have to be encouraged not to be fat (even though there’s nothing anyone can actually do about it). And if you want men to do something, as always, you have to bend over backwards to present it as something Awesome! and Manly! so they will put forth the minimal effort involved in instructing their female slave(s) to purchase a different kind of soda. This is kind of like what I was saying to someone the other day about the male birth control shot they’re developing, which was that they’re going to have to put it in the form of some kind of Manly Sports Drink in order to get men to bother with it.

    It’s the same thing we see in every other aspect of this society. If something’s for women, who gives a shit, give them the bare minimum of effectiveness and if they don’t like it, what the hell are they going to do? Soda doesn’t have to taste good if you only want women to drink it. But if you want to sell it to men, well, it has to be perfect. It better sing and dance and do the laundry! (Oh, wait, never mind, they’ve got wives and girlfriends for that.)

    @no fun: I imagine that would be the “Save the Ta-Tas” campaign. I have been lambasted for not “caring” enough about breast cancer when I have pointed out that it is, in fact, women’s lives we should be concerned with, sometimes to the exclusion of their “ta-tas”. The argument seems to be that calling out sexism in a movement A) necessarily undermines that movement and B) is just Mean.

  19. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    “This is kind of like what I was saying to someone the other day about the male birth control shot they’re developing, which was that they’re going to have to put it in the form of some kind of Manly Sports Drink in order to get men to bother with it.”

    Meh. They’ll only bother with it if they think it’s a peen-enlarging drug. You could get ‘em to drink raw yak urine that way.

  20. Amy

    I’m sipping from a mostly flat can of Pepsi MAX at this moment. My husband keeps buying it when he gets sodas from the gas station. I think the usual stack of Diet Pepsi just inside the door has been replaced with Pepsi MAX. It’s nasty, by the way, and goes flat too quickly. However, it’s amazing how you can make something more palatable to “manly men” by simply labeling it as manly. I suppose that if they ran ads for yogurt packaged in bold colored containers and called it Yogurt MAX, a certain porion of “manly men” would then consume it without fear of being considered less manly.

  21. Pola

    In an attempt at gender espionage, I tried to sneak a sip of the Man Soda. I snuck it home in my pocketbook, went into the kichen, drew the blind and attempted to open it. But darn it to h–k, I couldn’t figure the whole thing out! Is there some special tool required?

    It’s probably for the best though. I’m afraid that the bubbles might hurt my soft (very) palate. That might force me to make an unflattering facial expression.

  22. kirsty

    yey!
    I am thrilled about the inaugral DITWUS award…i have no doubt that there are just oodles of such asshole candidates lining up to be nominated!

  23. Level Best

    The Pepsi company is pro-gay?? Last I heard, they were one of the Mormon mega-companies. Well, the more you know!

  24. Jonathan

    @yttik:

    “Masculinity is evil.”

    Actually yes, the way it is culturally defined and marketed, it really is evil.

    The P can’t keep gender apartheid going without a ton of pro-evil and evil-tolerant people to back it up. And the propaganda has to be pervasive and total, from sugar-water to warfare, otherwise people might allow themselves to feel.

    @Amy:

    However, it’s amazing how you can make something more palatable to “manly men” by simply labeling it as manly.

    What are the chances that “Pepsi MAX” and “Coke One” are NOT their traditional diet sodas in different cans?

  25. intransigentia

    Pepsi MAX has (IIRC) extra caffeine, plus guarana. I can’t tell the difference taste-wise, and I can’t discount the placebo effect, but I do think it has a bit more of a stimulant kick.

  26. the Menstruator

    I was discussing this commercial recently on my show… I hope it has the same side effects as birth control does on females.
    I hope years from now scientists discover that men have wonky sperm from it and if they smoke cigarettes while drinking it it increases their risk of heart disease and cancer.
    It felt really good to write that.

  27. Citizen Jane

    Anyone remember those man tissues from a few years back? I think it was Kleenex that made them.

  28. Cunning Allusionment?

    That’s hillarious, my wife and I literally just saw this ad two days ago at that exact intersection, and remarked to each other how dumb it was.

  29. Hattie

    Here’s a catchy little tune and a lot of disagreeable people with food smeared on their faces for your viewing pleasure:
    http://tr.youtube.com/watch?v=h6QULqYj9dw&feature=PlayList&p=E97C5EC500973EEE&index=12

  30. Human Bean

    Nigels the world over can be compelled to consume anything if you attach a Patriarchy Patina to it. Effective male marketing memes: Pirate ships, guns, cowyboys, vikings, soldiers, ninjas, samurai, words that mean “large” or “power”, sweat, mud and metal sheets.

    Seriously, you could sell apricot fruit preserves to dudes if you packaged it in a tin can stamped with rivet marks wrapped in a black label with red block letters that say “Thor Brand XtraMax Energy Spread” underneath a picture of a war hammer. It doesn’t matter at all if it’s the same stuff they put in Bonne Maman. They’ll swear it helps keep their balls bigger.

  31. Agasaya

    If they were serious about this being a ‘manly’ soda, the can would have instructions about how to ‘compact’ it prior to discarding it. This is traditionally done via the act of smashing it against the casing of the male frontal lobe.

    You can’t damage something that is largely inactive – go for it, guys.

  32. Agasaya

    Human Bean,

    The sad thing is that this sales pitch is that it is no different from the idiocy both genders have literally been swallowing for decades. Everyone is ingesting the most incredibly unhealthy foods and beverages in creation – diet foods containing sucralose, aspartame and other nightmares. Self-poisoning through promises of eternal acceptance in so-so-ciety.

    Nothing is new under the sun. Remember a dude named the Marlboro Man? Dubya wasn’t kidding when he renamed American citizens, ‘consumers’ and took on the title of American CEO instead of President. He knew where the seat of power was located. He served on boards of directors because he didn’t know how to make an honest living.

  33. slythwolf

    All diet soda has extra caffeine, by the way, unless it’s the diet version of a flavor that doesn’t have caffeine or is marketed as caffeine-free. Caffeine is a diuretic; it makes you lose water weight.

    Not so great for those of us who are hypoglycemic or diabetic and would like our soda not to dehydrate the hell out of us.

  34. Jonathan

    Funny how most of these male-coded gendered products never manage to sell beyond their first ad blitz.

    It’s because the dudes realize that all the pink-colored “for women” products are either cheap crap, poisonous, or both. So they bolt when said companies (who are happy enough to poison them as well, for a profit) roll out the exact same crap in a blue (or black) “for men” version.

    Now if only the Dudes would extend sympathy and understanding to women who down the pink shit for the exact same reasons. But no, the pro-gender-apartheid dudes are evil, so they reject these consumer-saavy women for being “unfeminine”. IBTP.

  35. Jonathan

    Sorry, I meant to type, “disown”, not “down”.

  36. otoc

    Interesting. Maybe now the rates of MS will even out between the genders*.

    *Aspartame was/is an pesticide and women consume a lot more diet products.

  37. io

    Erg! Aspartame is NOT dangerous. It is not related to pesticides (see below) and it does NOT cause cancer. It is two amino acids — the basic building block of proteins– stuck together. People take individual amino acids all the time from health food stores. The ONLY scientifically valid, peer reviewed study that showed ANY negative effect with aspartame showed that people who eat a lot of it can slightly (*slightly*) imbalance their serotonin, which our body makes from one of the amino acids. So if you are prone to severe clinical depression, don’t have tons of aspartame at every meal. That’s it.

    Sorry this is tangential to the gender-based soda discussion, it just seriously irritates me when uninformed people distribute incorrect information. I am a chemist; I’ve read the original studies.

    Sucralose (Splenda) does look like a pesticide. It’s three Chlorine atoms stuck to a sugar molecule — it freaks me out to think about but I eat it any way. Longer term studies haven’t shown any danger, with the caveat that sucralose hasn’t been around as long as aspartame. Avoid sucralose if you want to, though refined sugar/high-fructose corn syrup actually HAVE been linked to detrimental effects on health.

  38. io

    I would like to add, if it gets through moderation, the biochemical reason why sucralose is unlikely to be dangerous is that our body cannot metabolize it and it passes through our system without touching anything (except fitting into the taste receptors that perceive sugar before getting kicked out again). Sucralose is a relatively unreactive molecule; the pesticide version would have a different formula and structure of the molecule (technically called an aromatic ring) and be very reactive. /geeking out.

  39. ma'am

    Jonathan, when you said “it’s because the dudes realize that all the pink-colored “for women” products are either cheap crap, poisonous, or both. So they bolt” did you really mean to imply that women are not smart enough to bolt from cheap poisonous crap and men are? Because it kind of sounds that way. And, what about Red Bull, Throttle, and all those other extremely caffeinated, sugary, hyped-up extreme sodas? It seems those are marketed towards men and they appear to be wildly successful.

  40. otoc

    Anything Donald Rumsfeld had to force through approval processes is bad news. It’s also possible you haven’t been privy to every study as the bad ones have a way of disappearing. (RE: aspartame)

  41. Syliva

    Hello Twisty

    This type of advert is known as a “Want to wear a women’s bra” in honour of Victoria Wood, local comedian, local to the UK that is.

  42. Jonathan

    @ma’am:

    Jonathan, when you said “it’s because the dudes realize that all the pink-colored “for women” products are either cheap crap, poisonous, or both. So they bolt” did you really mean to imply that women are not smart enough to bolt from cheap poisonous crap and men are? Because it kind of sounds that way.

    Ack. My apologies for sounding like that. Men bolt from these products because they are allowed to by society. Whereas women get hell from nearly everyone for rejecting the products and social mandates that are placed on their gender.

    @ma’am:

    And, what about Red Bull, Throttle, and all those other extremely caffeinated, sugary, hyped-up extreme sodas? It seems those are marketed towards men and they appear to be wildly successful.

    I suspect that such success is limited to masculinity-worshiping products that are not advertised opposite a cheap/poisonous pink product.

    So “energy” drinks, GNC horse testosterone, truck nuts *shudder*, and the like sell out, but when the company’s advertising pitch turns to: “We swear this product is not as dangerous as the nearly-identical one your girlfriend uses because, you know, it’s BLACK and MANLY!” They read between the lines and leave.

    Either that, or they swallow the BS, but then the product’s crappiness gets to them, and they simply walk out.

    Unlike women, who are under intense pressure to conform once a product hits the mainstream. If women were allowed to say ‘no’ without large negative social consequences, then Botox would be long gone.

  43. Kelsey

    Level Best, Pepsi isn’t really a pro-gay organization. They were labeled as being “pro-gay” by a national conservative group after running ads during some TV shows that the group thought were gay-friendly. As for the Mormon thing, I have no idea.
    A few months ago, I saw a woman at the gym wearing a t-shirt that said “Saving Second Base.” Why is it that our bodies can never be important or valid for their own sake, only in terms of male sexuality? Well, I mean, I know why, so I guess it’s a silly question. IBTP.

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