Get In The Bathtub, Dude: An Advertising Field Guide to Men

179b653565641b1dee73ecbdf6a7a69fThe time is upon us once again. People are sporting garish color combinations, insisting their friends eat chip-and-bean casserole concoctions, and complaining at every Saturday wedding they attend. It’s football season, kittens!

Usually, I’m not much of a football fan. I enjoy watching the actual game well enough, but take umbrage with so many aspects of it—hyper-masculinity, health dangers, its effect on education, and those wretched pink Lady ___insert appropriately intimidating mascot__ Fan! t-shirts—that it’s hard to give more than a rousing “Woohoo!” when that College Team I Follow wins. Thanks to living with a man whose school is doing particularly well this year, however, I’m watching a lot more football. And, as a result, football commercials.

Y’all, these commercials have totally opened my eyes. Back before Professor McGregor, I semi-longed to understand the proverbial menfolk. My mind told me they were just the same as me—regular people, with the added bonus of a penis—but friends told me they were mysterious creatures, mystifying in their ways and hairiness. It turns out, all we needed to do was watch more ESPN to discover the truth.  There are lessons to be learned, in between those brief periods of programming you actually want to watch. Sports advertising understands men and gives the rest of us handy man-dealing tips.

Truth #1: Men love to take baths, especially with wolf soap. I would never have known this from living with my teenage brother, but men really love being clean. Just when you think a man wants some sexy time with his lady love – boom! – he suggests bathing instead. And not bathing-together-in-a-sexy-way either, but side by side, each person with their own bathtub. Men cannot share tubs with you! They want to enjoy the warm water and romantic sunset in their own watery space! The only creatures a man wants to bathe with are wolves and eagles, who lend their essences to man soap. I always thought Professor McGregor’s showery scent was something with sandalwood or cedar, but these commercials are pretty insistent that he bathe alone in animal extracts.

Truth #2: Low Testosterone is an epidemic that must be solved. Everyone knows that the most important part of being a man is having a vigorous man member, which rouses quickly at the slightest hint of a womanly presence. But when men age, their testosterone levels naturally decrease, apparently making it really hard to do the one thing men are supposed to do all the time! Judging by the amount of commercials, low testosterone is reaching epidemic proportions in America. Sure, your husband tells you that he doesn’t want to canoodle, because he has the flu, but that is really the fever of low testosterone. A man who cannot canoodle is no man at all! We must save the canoodling man bits people! Who wants to plan a benefit walk/run for canoodling with me?

Truth #3: Men hate cooking, but love cheese. When men get together, they don’t want to make things. That’s crazy talk! Men don’t cook, they grunt and swear and worry about their fantasy football stats. To keep up their energy, however, they need to eat. That’s where cheese comes in. If you’re hosting a man party, it will only be a hit if you buy fast food covered in dairy product. Chicken tenders + CHEDDER! Pizza + FOUR CHEESES! Tacos + CHEESEY SAUCE CHEESE BYPRODUCT! These are man foods. Leave the expertly barbecued pork loin at home, Harold, unless you want all the other men to mock you.

72a16f1bdb1b793426a0cb0464eeeb0dTruth #4: Men are powerless, when presented with breasts.  All my adult life, I’ve had the power to rule menfolk and I didn’t even know it. When presented with breasts, men forget how to properly function as human beings. They crash cars, spill soup, and embarrass themselves in front of their friends, by following woman orders. This apparently, includes gay men, since I’ve never seen a sports commercial featuring a man distracted by great man shoulders. Surely, ESPN wouldn’t assume gay men don’t like sports and, thus, don’t need targeted advertising. Obviously, there’s just some sort of natural kryptonite reflex built into men, when it comes to breasts.

When Professor McGregor comes home tonight, I’m going to try out all these new, amazing lessons I’ve learned from sports advertising. Sure, he said he wanted to come home, make bison steaks and Brussels sprouts, then watch Much Ado About Nothing, but he’s a man! I suppose I’ll throw all those vegetables away, order a pizza loaded with four pounds of cheese, give him a blood test to diagnose his current testosterone levels, and force him into the bathtub instead. Thanks, ESPN!

- Grace

The Last Boys Club: Women & Augusta National

Last weekend, as any sports fan knows, was The Masters. Arguably, it is the biggest tournament in professional golf. Professional men’s golf, that is. Women neither play a professional tournament at Augusta National nor are allowed to become members of the club. It is a place that values tradition above all else – a pimento cheese sandwich is still sold for $1.50, the famous azaleas are pruned to perfection, and it’s always, always, always a man’s world.

It’s also my favorite sporting event.

Growing up, golf was always a special bond between my father and I. Sure, my brother has a great swing and my sister loves Adam Scott, but Dad and I are fans. We e-mail news stories about our favorite players and record every tournament. If one of us scored tickets to The Ryder Cup, the other would be tapped to come along, no deliberation necessary. On my life list, the top two spots are: Play a round at Augusta and Attend The Masters with Dad. Like any other fan, I spend this one weekend in April glued to television. I pray that drive won’t hook left; I gasp in awe at the speed of the greens. Unfortunately, I also spend a lot of time defending my love of the tournament to friends.

How can I, a card-carrying feminist and well-educated woman, support an institution that is so anachronistically anti-women? Honestly, it’s difficult. This is one of the most gut-wrenching issues for me as a woman, despite how shallow it may seem to others.  As an outsider, it would be easy to recommend I just stop watching it, until Augusta admits women. Boycott that which oppresses us, right? Besides, it’s just a game.

Only…it’s not. For me, this one tournament – this one game – is the live battle between a talisman of my father-daughter relationship and my very passionate viewpoints on modern equality. I wish to cheer for the green jacket’s winner, just as much as I want to rail at the board members bestowing it. Because tradition is all well and good, but sexism cloaked as tradition? That’s not something to defend.

This year, finally, I had reason to hope. One of the unofficial traditions at Augusta is that a membership offer is extended to CEOs of the major tournament sponsors. As of January, one of those CEOs is now Virginia Rometty of IBM. That’s right. A woman. Cue shocked gasps and pearl clutching. Much was made in the media of whether or not a membership invitation would be extended to Rometty, before this year’s tournament. There has been a change in guard of the Augusta leadership, so most assumed this would be the year. After all, in an age where a woman is the CEO of a company so powerful it sponsors The Masters, shouldn’t that same woman be allowed to join the club?

If I ran the PR campaigns for Augusta, I would encourage them not only to invite women to join, but to insist on an LPGA event hosted there. Yes, they are a private club, allowed to make their own rules, but those same archaic rules threaten to turn the sport’s most revered event into a joke. Half the pre-Masters headlines this year dealt with Augusta’s stance on women, not the strength of the field. This is a game filled with brilliant men and women, both amateur and professional. Is there anyone who would argue Annika Sorenstam is less qualified to join Augusta than Phil Mickelson? They’re both living legends. They both deserve equal treatment by this nation’s greatest golf club. Anything less is backwards thinking.

Unfortunately, backwards it remains. Virginia Rometty attended the tournament not wearing a member’s green blazer, but a smart pink cardigan instead. There is talk that invitations take time to be extended to the new CEO, because Augusta is a notoriously secretive organization, which runs on its own shadowy timetable. But…I’m still disappointed. I felt like this was the year. This was the year I could watch my favorite tournament thinking “One day, both Dad and I could be members there.” Instead, this was the year I watched with a cynical eye. This was the year I was too focused on the background politics to notice the azaleas. Next year, if Rometty still isn’t a member, may be the year I don’t watch at all.

- Grace