Gender messages

Last night we attended a Tigers game. We had gotten the tickets because I’d complained to Fox Sports Detroit, which airs Tigers games. I hadn’t been seeking anything by way of remuneration in my complaint, but the tickets were offered by way of “Sorry that we can’t actually fix the issue, would you like some tickets?” and I wasn’t about to turn down the offer.

The complaint had been about metroPCS’s Tech and Talk commercials, which I find deplorably stereotypical. I was originally going to send an email directly to metroPCS, but I couldn’t find an email address on their website, anywhere. Since, at the time, I’d been all geared up to fire off a civil but stern missive to someone, and since the only time I was seeing those commercials was on Tigers broadcasts, I wrote Fox Sports Detroit instead.

My concern, then and now, was not just what the commercials communicate to me, but also what they communicate to my son, who is just now coming into an awareness of the meanings of things around him. I realize, as I communicated to the very polite VP at FSD who responded to my email, that the world is full of bigotry and I can’t (nor do I intend to) protect him from it all. However, the frequency and blatancy of that particular ad series was, in my mind, beyond the pale.

I was just on the growth observations blog I keep for my son, posting about the game, when I was reminded of a deeper concern I have about messages. Inset on that site, as I posted, ran an Axe ad featuring women in skimpy underwear.

He was mesmerized.

Complaining about racist advertising on TV is fairly simple, because it’s unusual for it to be blatant. Complaining about sexist advertising, particularly sexually objectifying advertising during sporting events, feels entirely like a lost cause.

I want to teach him to respect himself and to respect others. I don’t mean to keep his perspective sanitized, because that’s not realistic, nor in my mind healthy; on the other hand, I’m concerned about the inundation of messages.

I’m glad that we watch most programming on DVR anymore, so we can at least fast forward through the commercials. That also doesn’t eradicate the unfortunate messages in the programs themselves, but then, it’s our role as parents, his mother and I, to choose programming that is appropriate and to explain our perspectives on it. Nor does it completely eliminate the visual aspect of the advertising, although it does hopefully minimize its impact.

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