Just For Men – Marketing, Masculinity and Male Stereotypes

The Norfolk Gender & Sexuality (GAS) Discussion Group meets at the Norwich Forum Library, 6.30pm Nov 3, to debate Masculinity and Male Stereotypes as portrayed in Just for Men Product Marketing. (Facebook event)
For something so ‘tough’ masculinity seems so fragile. For many years, feminist critics have questioned and challenged the ways in which capitalism profits from unnecessary and oftentimes damaging gender stereotypes. Men and masculinities can be said to suffer greatly from the impact these stereotypes have.
In this group we will discuss the current state of masculinity, and examine the impact they may have on people’s lives. Topics of discussion could explore the impact that ‘toughness’ has on the mental health of men, how some masculinities become marginalised under the assumed (hetero)sexual virility of men, and the ways in which some boys are literally ‘dying to become men’.
Man Size Buttons Yorkie
Yorkie – Man Size Buttons

As a means of exploring these topics, we will look at advertising across the ages. We will look at how recent campaigns market to men and question the impact this may have on not only the lives of men, but everyone else too. We will ask: why is Coke Zero for men, but Diet Coke for women? Why are men being sold ‘man crisps’ (McCoys), ‘not for girls chocolate’ (Yorkie) and ‘smell like a man’ (Old Spice). We will ask, where does irony end and harm begin in some of these campaigns? Is it just to make money, or are men fundamentally different, requiring different products?

We will think about how all of these little everyday reminders in advertising build an overarching idea of gender, one that impacts everybody.
Those coming to the discussion might like to explore the following links:

Gendered Products



“Recent research shows that loyal customers often get upset when a brand associated with men expands to include products perceived as feminine. Senior Lecturer Jill J. Avery discusses the problem of ‘gender contamination.'”
“Marketing companies take on gender contamination, the idea that when women flock to a product, men flee.”
Men buy Mars, women prefer Galaxy via the Independent (2011)
“Gender targeting is advertising industry’s secret weapon. If you thought food choices had nothing to do with gender – think again.”
The Selling Of Masculinity via Dr NerdLove (2013)
“many men look to popular culture for sources of information what male behavior is supposed to be and how we’re supposed to display it. Unfortunately, mass media doesn’t send the greatest of messages about how to be a man. In fact, we are regularly bombarded with messages selling the idea that masculinity is violent, physically aggressive and sexually domineering and that anger and stoic toughness are the only appropriate emotions for men to display…”
[tw: suicide] “A report by the mental health charity CALM has found that men are struggling to cope with the pressures and expectations of their personal and professional lives…”