Assvertising, Part 131 in an Ongoing Series

As part of the obnoxious trend of masculinizing shit by adding or substituting "man" or "bro" as a prefix, which has already brought us such delightful terminology as man-cave, man-date, man-purse, mancation, mandals, manscara, and bromance, Dove—a property of Unilever, which also owns Axe, progenitor of the most execrable adverts this side of beer commercials—has brought us the "man-hide."

Footage of gnarly old leather boots, an old leather glove, a leather jacket. Voiceover: Cow-hide dries out. So can your man-hide. Footage of white dude lathering up in the shower. Voiceover [over image of shrinking leather patch washed with some other soap and leather patch retaining its shape washed with Dove]: Dove Men + Care has micromoisture to help keep your skin from becoming dry and tight. This unique micromoisture technology activates on contact to fight skin dryness. [Over more dude lathering in shower.] So that man-hide of yours stays clean and moisturized. No matter what you put it through. Dove Men + Care: Be comfortable in your own skin.
The exhortation to "be comfortable in your own skin" at the end of an advert pandering to the basest masculine insecurities would be hilarious if it weren't emblematic of the insidious (and tragic) mixed messages the Patriarchy delivers to men all the time.

When we first saw this commercial recently, Iain remarked that the absurd phrase "man-hide" is not merely insulting to secure men, but is also inherently misogynist, embedded with a distancing from the feminine: "Fates fucking forfend that a man would use a product for WOMEN on his precious fucking MAN-HIDE!"

It is a well-known fact around the classiest of dudely locker rooms that using a lady-soap on your man-hide can turn you gay. Or female.

Note the implicit assumptions of a campaign for body soap that feels obliged to pander to men's masculinity, assuring them that they are indeed still MEN even if they clean their bodies with soap like women do (?): Men are sensitive and their delicate sense of security is precarious and fragile and must be reinforced at all times.

Yet the narrative is that women are the hypersensitive ones, the weaker sex.

There are plenty of men whose male identity is not frail, not in constant need of nurture and reassurance, not held in thrall to a compulsion to display their masculinity in order that it may be acknowledged and admired.

Those men, however, tend to be feminists.

It's the men who listen to the dictates of the Patriarchy whose male identity is most insecure—and adverts like this one underscore precisely why that is. Dove diligently reassures men that they're manly, explicitly to counter its own subtext that caring for one's skin is sort of silly and feminine. But no it's not! YOUR MAN-HIDE NEEDS CARE! JUST NOT IN THAT GRODY LADY WAY!

Compare to a frame like, "Taking care of one's skin isn't something men have been encouraged to do, but skincare is important for every person who cares about his or her body." Men, you've been ignored. We're not ignoring your needs anymore. Your skin is worth caring about, too. Blah blah blah.

Of course that model is wholly without an embedded subversion of confidence, so THAT'S NOT GOING TO WORK. It continues to be profoundly depressing that the beauty/hygiene industry took a long look at gender inequality and thought, "Well, we can sell shit to men by preying on their insecurities, too!"

Which perfectly underlines the point that the solution is not more Patriarchy—which, no doy, is no picnic for men, either—but more Feminism.

Patriarchy limits the definitions of manhood and masculinity; Feminism throws them wide open. And as Feminism successfully redefines womanhood and femininity every more expansively, reactionary patriarchal imperatives to define manhood and masculinity in contradistinction to womanhood and femininity are necessarily closing more and more doors to men who hew to traditional manhood.

"Well, now that WOMEN are doing something, it's not MANLY anymore! So DON'T DO IT if you still want to be considered a MAN!"

When your definition of manhood is "anything that isn't female," it's no wonder traditionalists are so hostile to feminists. We keep encroaching on their territory, with our inconvenient insistence on comprehensive humanity.

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