by Sim Badesha

Male Feminists and The Media

Have you ever seen an ad in which a male is supporting the female in an empowering way? I don’t think I ever have.  Last week, I discussed a feminist representation in the media and this time, I thought I’d look at males.  Veanne N. Anderson (2009) shared in her research the responses of college students, who were asked to write a response to one of two statements “Michelle calls herself a feminist” or “Michael calls himself a feminist.”  There were many positive statements, but also negative ones.  One participant wrote that “Michael is a cross-dresser by night”, while another wrote ‘Michael probably denounces his manhood. . .’” It is common to see print ads with male domination over women through body positioning.

We live in a culture in which males have power over women.  Males supporting equality is simply not valued.  In another study, participants were asked to rate male and female speakers that were videotaped (Anderson, 2009).  The male speaker that identified himself as a feminist was rated more likely to be gay or bisexual than the male speaker, who did not identify as a feminist.

The next time you go through a fashion magazine, try this: See how many print ads actually portray both genders in an equal manner, or ads in which the woman is the dominate figure.  Even better, find an ad in which she is the dominant figure and the ad is NOT sexually suggestive.  It seems that if a woman is dominant the image is highly sexual (i.e. she’s walking a half-naked man on a leash). While you’re at it, look for ads that reproduce the socially constructed stereotypes of what men should be like.   They may not be as bad as the ones in previous years… or may be they are.

Isn’t strange that we readily accept these ads and feel negatively towards male feminists?

Sim Badesha is participating in Violence, Media Representations and Families  a media literacy program joint initiative between Kwantlen Polytechnic University Sociology Department, First Voices and Battered Women’s Support Services