How Ad Stereotypes Hurt Guys

By Amy-Willard Cross

Advertising has pushed a lot of stereotypes on women.  We've all seen the sexy vixen, the stain-chasing housewife or the ditzy blond.

 But the art of marketing also puts men into constraining macho boxes. Therapist Paul Dunion maintains these stereotypes hurt males and society at large. We can easily recognize the cliche of the clueless dad trying to take care of kids or the Don Juan, but Dunion is more focussed on depictions of masculinity that stunt them emotionally. Dunion, who has just written a new book, Path of the Novice Mystic: Maintaining a Beginner's Heart and Mind , turns his eye to commercial messages men receive.  It's just another look under the male mask. 

A beer commercial depicts a young heterosexual couple watching television together. His cell phone rings and he appears to spend a moment or two
listening to the caller, then turns to the woman and says, "Bobby needs to vent." The woman responds, "Then go help your friend." In the next scene,
the man is knocking on a apartment door, carrying a twelve pack of beer. Bobby answers the door, high-fiving his friend and yelling, "Let's vent!"

In the last frame of the commercial, both men are drinking beer and watching a football game. The man's phone rings and he answers it saying, "Yes,
honey, Bobby is still venting." This commercial dangerously defines males as stuck in the grips of adolescence. Men deceive the significant women in
their lives, they exploit their sensitivity to a friend's need for emotional support. This implicitly states it is fine to view any need for emotional
support as unnecessary. The highest values promoted are beer drinking with a friend and actively remaining a sport fan.

There's a radio commercial that has a man describe his car: "It's my cocoon - my new BMW is the place I go to laugh, sing, talk to myself. It's the
place where I can agree or disagree with the likes of Don Imus. It's the place where I can be myself more than anywhere else. It's my personal rocket
ship to the stars." Only within this two ton hunk of metal can the man be himself--it's total emotional isolation That is as a major death blow to the
potential of men to move out of emotional isolation. The phrase encourages an excessive self-reliance and independence, leaving men ill-equipped to
give and receive love, collaborate effectively with others, show empathy, attend to losses by actively grieving, effectively address conflict,
non-violently work with their aggression and to generally speak the truth about how they actually feel to others.


A television commercial representing a fast food restaurant portrays a couple dining with the female speaking derogatorily about her sister's boyfriend
who insists upon watching sports on Sunday. The male listens attentively, obviously planning a response to her upset which will please her. The man
finally burst forth saying, "What a jerk!" suggesting that he was bright enough to figure out what she wanted to hear regardless of how far it is from
the actual truth. We groom males to be dishonest, confused about their emotions, exploitive where it might benefit them.