Honey, stop that!

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
This entry was posted in brands, communication. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Honey, stop that!

  1. Matt says:

    -or- Sitcoms

  2. James says:

    You know, I think it’s simply a question of audience. Women tell jokes about men, men tell jokes about women. So what are the networks doing? They’re assuming that the majority of their viewing audience is women… or men, who are watching with their women, and therefore won’t say SH!T.

    So… maybe sexist networks.

  3. Bret says:

    Third overlapping circle is “confused child” who grows up wondering why all of the seemingly clear cut TV stereotypes don’t really apply.

  4. kate h says:

    It’s not just about women telling jokes about men. Men are consistently portrayed as bumbling buffoons in any domestic situation in ads (and in sitcoms!). Men can’t clean the house properly. Men can’t take care of the children properly. Men can’t control their urges for food, sex, or entertainment activities. Women are consistently portrayed as the controlling force in the family, the “adult”, the kill-joy, and the only one with common sense. In fact, commercials often explicitly equate married men with children that women have to pick up after, monitor, and admonish. It drives me crazy to see such an unbalanced view of relationships presented at the norm.

  5. n0mia says:

    I have always been offended by the idea that these seemingly smart women tolerate such idiotic men. People don’t just magically turn stupid one day– so these women obviously CHOSE to be with stupid men who are (in most ways) rather useless. It happens, but it’s certainly not the norm.


    But… what sort of sexism are we talking about?

    Do you mean that it’s sexist against men to portray such a combo, or that it’s sexist toward women to assume “they make all the buying decisions, so our ads have to appeal to their sense of superiority in the household”?

    Or are you so intelligent that you considered both, and left the terminology intentionally vague?

    Ooh, you’re good.

  7. Zach says:

    +1 on the sitcoms.

    It gets really old and is so consistantly one sided.

    It also makes the rather sexist assumption that if the woman were always the “adult” one, she would be good at it. We all know that being female does not automatically make you intelligent or responsible. That to is a wrong stereotype.

  8. Victoria says:

    Back in the old days of TV the woman was the bumbling idiot, hung up on trite things like shoes and nails. Either way, there is always one smart, responsible one and one dumb, lazy one. But the reality is: most couples are fairly even in terms of intelligence and responsibility. But you already know that, since you made the graph.

  9. wing says:


    In a perfect world, Ray Romano, Tim Allen, and everyone associated with their shows would be the first against the wall.

  10. oak says:

    bias sucks, period.

    i can’t wait until we have these disagreements about lesbian and gay couples. that’ll be pretty cool.

  11. Someone says:

    You guys are whining about sexist shows, but let’s be honest here: any show that displayed the opposite would be immediately labeled as a terrible sexist program and taken off the air.
    Seriously, imagine it. A show where a smart, do-everything man marries a bumbling woman who isn’t good at anything. The rest doesn’t matter, it would be immediately decried as a show that displays women as less intelligent than men.

    The fact is that white men are the only possible “idiots” in a TV show or ad. Anything else is either racist or sexist. The only exceptions are shows where every main character exhibits that same negative traits, or where every main character is female/minority.

  12. Joshua says:

    Dharma and Greg, I Love Lucy are just two I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many more but I don’t watch TV much anymore.

    Come on people, the entertainment industry isn’t that clever. They will try a formula until it is tired and stale. These things come in waves.

  13. Someone Else says:

    I agree, part of the answer is the entertainment industry isn’t that clever, but they do have a bias.

    “White men” are the one of the last groups allowed to be made fun of. Why? Because they don’t have a group to lobby en masse. There’s no “CottonBall Coalition” or “National Organization of Men”.

    An even better exercise is to ask yourself why can’t white men have a lobby? If your answer had anything to do with them being “in power” then you are part of the problem.

  14. Hermocrates says:

    “The fact is that white men are the only possible “idiots” in a TV show or ad. Anything else is either racist or sexist.”

    More specifically, white straight men. White, straight, middle-class men make the “best” idiots, though. It all has to do with those all being “invisible” traits, and are considered normative. Anyone who is varied in one respect will often be defined by that one difference, and everything else is assumed as above if left unmentioned. So in a queer show, it’ll probably be a white gay guy who is the buffoon, secondarily a white lesbian. Probably not anyone coloured, or anyone of a different sexuality than homo-/heterosexual. The bisexual or transgendered (or what have you) is already different enough by society’s standards, so it would get uncomfortable for many viewers to make fun of them.

    Also, in response to:
    “An even better exercise is to ask yourself why can’t white men have a lobby? If your answer had anything to do with them being “in power” then you are part of the problem.”

    I think a better idea is simply for white, straight men to get involved in rights lobbies, and help to form a well-balanced and egalitarian platform, then for them to form a lobby to get themselves rights they already have. I think that would send a much stronger, more positive message than a “CottonBall Coalition”. You can’t just look at how you intend a group’s message, but also about its public perception.

  15. Hermocrates says:

    White men ARE involved in rights lobbies.

    Jessica is right once again. This is the legacy of feminism–enjoy boys and girls!

  16. Sunshine says:

    Sexism against men is one of the most annoying things to me. Maybe it’s because I love to debate and my mom is a feminist, I dunno. But we can’t even fix it, because saying “women are more powerful than men, let’s be even” isn’t true almost anywhere in the world currently but in the media.

    While sure, people still have the prejudices that they grew up with, I don’t personally know a single American completely against blacks. Why can’t we feel the same way with women?

    Someone Else: National Organization of Men = NOM = guys are lazy and do nothing but eat and sleep. It comes full circle.

  17. drklassen says:

    Someone and Someone Else are missing the key point on why straight, white, middle (to upper) class men are the only viable targets and everything else is “wrong”.

    It’s because for the past 300+ years this particular class made a habit out of oppressing *everyone* else through malice and often in the form of “humor” (to them at least).

    Since most entertainment is still produced by straight, white, middle-to-upper class men, continuing to use humor at the expense of those who were (formerly?!) in the oppressed classes still carries shades of that oppression.

    My thought: no straight, white, middle-to-upper class man gets to complain until about 2310. Suck it up and think on history.

  18. Doofus says:

    As a “guy” I don’t really care how other “guys” are portrayed on TV. It has nothing to do with me. Of course I canceled my cable TV over a decade ago, and never see these shows/ads. Get rid of your TV (esp. if you have children). Problem solved.

  19. James says:

    drklassen, that’s the most intelligent punditry I’ve read in a while.

    Thankfully, the modern world learned better after we did that to Germany following WWI…

    “You Jerries just sit there, and think about how you’re wrong. No, don’t complain… we just want you to sit there, be wrong, and think about how bad you are.”

    So dammit, how the hell are we supposed to have a sitcom that’s funny and doesn’t make fun of anything?

  20. Honk Lib says:

    drklassen’s all-too-common view is utterly disturbing. “Reverse racism” (or sexism, or anyism) is not an answer. It’s only a prescription for the perpetuation of this sort of divisive bullshit. There’s a simple answer to James’s question, “how the hell are we supposed to have a sitcom that’s funny and doesn’t make fun of anything?” Make fun of everyone and everything. Every single stereotype should be taken straight, inverted, subverted, and twisted. A joke can be especially funny if it’s crossing a line.

  21. tom says:

    smart wife with dumb husband? well now, if she was smart in the first place she wouldnt have a dumb husband…

  22. Lord_Tristan says:

    Because of the way most humor works, some person/group has to be the butt of the joke. Being inoffensive and funny is difficult, if not impossible. The reason that white straight guys are used today is because they are the only acceptable targets.
    Basically, you can’t have a laugh and share it too.

    Also: any references to “humor” or “jokes” are used in a rhetorical sense.

  23. Drew says:

    Agreed with Lord_Tristan, someone is usually the butt of the joke (an x, a y and a z walk into a bar). And, it’s funnier if the privileged person is the one laughed at.

    BTW, please don’t complain about 30-second ads. Take a look at how minorities are generally portrayed in 2 hour movies…

  24. drklassen says:

    Lord_Tristan and Drew say, far more succinctly I might add, the point I was trying to make.

  25. Llama says:

    Only in America…

    Or at least not in NZ.

    We’re a bit behind the times here, it’s the other way around with women generally being portrayed as the useless ones on tv. Probably because here it’s alot more practical to be a chippie or sparky (or atleast have some DIY sense) than some fancy-pants lawyer, and so “real” men get alot of respect

  26. James says:

    Sounds like I found my new home then.

  27. brandon says:

    although these shows portray the man as the idiot, i’m not convinced the “joke” isn’t ultimately on the wife, who is often still an at-home mom. tough luck, women still need a husband to make the money, even though she is clearly more capable.

    obviously its just lazy writing. “how do i make two characters who spend all of their time together different?” and almost always the answer is: one is smart, one is dumb.

  28. Lihtox says:

    The bumbling dad stereotype doesn’t cast women in such a good light either: it suggests that women are supposed to be the grownups, and aren’t allowed to be fun or funny, while men get to be kids. In fact, the stereotype that “men are funnier than women” is pretty pervasive, as is the idea that women should be responsible: responsible for birth control, responsible for childcare, responsible for the home chores, responsible for keeping themselves attractive, etc. I’m sure women would prefer the option of being irresponsible every now and then.

  29. Book says:

    All I can do is shake my head and sigh when guys bitch about how it’s sooooo unfair that men are portrayed as bumbling fools in sitcoms.

    The fact is, straight, white men have MANY roles in media. Action heroes, spies, business men, dad, idiot, etc, etc.

    Nobody else is afforded that. When’s the last time we had a mainstream black, lesbian action hero? Are gays/lesbians shown as regular, long-married couples with 2.5 kids and a dog in the suburbs on mainstream television? NO.

    And do sitcoms even pass the Bechdel test? That is, two women who talk to each other about something other than a man? RARELY.

    Even if men are sometimes portrayed as bumbling fools, women are almost NEVER portrayed as anything but an accessory to a man.

    So, guys, if you want to be taken seriously, QUIT FUCKING WHINING about “reverse” discrimination against straight white men. Straight white men are the only group to even come close to being fairly represented in media.

  30. Tyler says:

    Hey, guess what. Stereotypes don’t just appear out of thin air. They arise due to repeated and consistent parallel labeling of one subset of people by another. Advertisements are only capitalizing on an existing state of consciousness. Can’t really blame the ads.

  31. Lin Clark says:

    I’m a feminist and I’m pissed when white guys are portrayed as idiots. Mostly because it makes it seem like a societal norm for women to act as a mother to their husband, a role that I would hate!

    Note, I’m not saying that men do act like children… but TV shows that portray this as a norm do change the way a lot of people think of things.

    For instance, my husband and I went to a wedding recently. He didn’t wear a suit. His father pulled me aside and said that next time I should make sure he wore his suit…. HE’S A FULLY GROWN MAN, I LET HIM DRESS HIMSELF!

    If it weren’t for this societal preconception that I should be responsible for my husbands feeding, clothing, and medical attention, then I don’t think his father would have said this to me

  32. headphones says:

    “Even if men are sometimes portrayed as bumbling fools, women are almost NEVER portrayed as anything but an accessory to a man.”

    Are you joking?

    You’re joking.

  33. Sabrina says:


    “BTW, please don’t complain about 30-second ads. Take a look at how minorities are generally portrayed in 2 hour movies…”

    You have to pay to get into the 2 hour movie, harder to avoid the 30-second ads and they play all day for months.

    I’m a Latina, and I don’t think we need to play the Oppression Olympics. Women AND racial/ethnic minorities still face stupid, stupid stereotypes in mainstream media.

    Also — the idea is that men can’t cook! Haha, so funny! Which plays on the idea of women as domestic. Watch Sarah Haskins on this:


  34. Audrey says:

    Straight white middle-class men don’t have a lobby group because they don’t have anything to lobby about.

    They want the right to not have to carry an unwanted child to term? Already have it.

    They want the right to earn the same amount of money for the same work? Already have it.

    They want the right to marry their girlfriend? Already have it.

    They want to improve their social standing without being threatened with violence for getting “uppity”? Already have it.

    If all your demographic has to complain about is being ill-portrayed on TV, then you have it pretty sweet.

    Mind you, I’m not saying men have to be dumped on. If your ex-wife earns more than you do but you’re still paying alimony to her, then that’s not right. (If she has the kids, then you probably still should pay something in child support.) But most of the time that’s not the case.

    The quickest guideline for less-offensive humour is “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Bumbling men are easy to write. Easy gets more written faster, and is thus cheaper to produce.

  35. Deschutron says:

    I know this thread is old but I wanted to say my two cents.

    The idiot/smart-person combination is a formula loved by ad people it seems.

    I’ve seen ads by KFC in Australia where the Dad will try to take the family out to do something family-oriented or cook a meal for them, and fails hopelessly, and then the wise mum fixes everything by buying dinner from KFC.

    I have a feeling that the idiot/smart-person combination is used to present one thought process or idea that people have, ridicule it, and deliver the advertiser’s message through the actions of the “smart” person.

    When a contradictory behaviour to the advertised one is not presented, associating a smart person with the product only makes sense from an advertising point of view.

    I don’t like this formula at all, by the way.