Radfem-ological Images (Dove Beauty and Dove for Men)

by FCM

yay men!  they rock!  men are decidedly pleasant in both appearance and mannerism!  men are safe to be around for women and children!  men do more than their share of the work.  men have earned respect and paid their dues.  oh sure they have!  no male privilege here.  patriarchy’s reward-system is merit-based, donchaknow.  and once men have managed to stay alive long enough, (with women taking care of them the whole entire way BTW, but no one ever mentions that) men apparently earn the right (by living long enough, and letting things happen to them that they have no control over…like advancing in their careers just by showing up male, and making babies through osmosis apparently) to be comfortable in their own skins.  its their right, as teh menz!  its their right, for doing nothing!  theyve earned it (just like they “earn” everything else).  and they are almost mocking mens reality here arent they?  men know its true, and its funny, like many things are funny, because the jokes actually on women.  har!  all men have to do is show up, and the interlocking systems men have created to benefit themselves do the rest.

contrast doves campaign for men, of course, with dove’s new not really new anymore campaign for women, whereby they attempt to rescue womens and girls self-esteem. the one that apparently begins to dissipate through our pores at a young age for no discernible reason, at least none having to do with dove brand or its media images, or those of dove’s “brother” product axe body spray for PIV-digging men, but probably is somehow mothers fault; and in fact dove-brand might even help stop the progress of this decidedly female disease:

yes, if dove can just help girls understand that they are worthy semen-receptacles for men, warts i mean dimples and all, they can grow up to be teachers!  or something!  huh?

what we have here, of course, is dove, a corporation that wants to sell people stuff, framing the issues: the alleged “problem” as well as the solution.  according to them, the “problem” is “womens body image and self esteem.”  and the solution is something approximating “do something about it.”  “do something” rather than “stop doing something” being the consumerist approach to problem solving.

but none of that interests me really.  at least, it doesnt interest me today.  because whats so obvious to me as i watch the videos for each of dove’s campaigns is how they are compartmentalizing mens and womens experience of life, as if they dont have everything to do with each other: as if mens status as successful achievers (they achieve success at life just by showing up male) has nothing to do with womens suffering.  when in fact it has everything to do with it, and is dependent on womens suffering in every possible way.  thats why men dont want womens suffering to ever stop. the men who own dove-brand dont want it to stop, and the men that women love and depend on dont want womens suffering to ever end.

i mean really.  only a radical solution could put an end to female-specific suffering under patriarchy: where women were no longer subjected to unwanted PIV and PIV-related medical events; where our poverty and misfortune, to the extent those things still existed as being part of the human experience, would never lead to our being raped, prostituted, or acting in porn; and where women didnt depend on men for anything, let alone love and financial support.  only a radical solution would leave women free to rely on each other, to pay the rent and care for our families, to heal our (non-PIV related) ailments; and to create culture.  one that didnt include images of women being raped, tortured, starved, cut apart and served up piecemeal to sell values and products that benefited men in every way.

but thats not what dove is selling, and its not what anyone wants.  only radical feminists seem to have conceptualized a radical solution to womens suffering, as a sexual class, around the world and to do that we have had to name the problem.  and the problem is not “womens self esteem.”  the problem is men, including mens sexualized violence against women around the world, and men taking full advantage of their male privilege to sexual access to women and girls, and the female-specific harms to women, of the penis.

did i mention that dove also sells axe body spray, and hawks it with a sexually-charged ad campaign thats specifically designed to get men (thinking about getting) laid, and even to make light of…the female-specific harms of the penis?  yeah, dove doesnt get it (or they pretend they dont) and they dont want anyone else to get it either.  and neither do the numerous liberal feminists criticizing dove “get it” apparently.  because as many results as one gets when one googles “dove campaign and feminist” what one never sees is a radical feminist criticism of it, that names the female-specific harms of the penis as the problem, and the only solution as a radical solution to womens incalculable suffering, including internalized misogyny and a realization on some level of their lot in life as members of the rape class, aka. “self esteem issues” under the P.

until now, hopefully?  i’ll google it later and see if this article comes up under a keyword search of “dove” and “feminist.”

14 Comments to “Radfem-ological Images (Dove Beauty and Dove for Men)”

  1. Good points!

    Making women’s self esteem and body image the problem really is horrendous. We already have women desperately shaving their legs, dying their hair, dieting, do everything in their power to achieve that impossible standard so they can finally feel good about themselves. As if they just had better self esteem, all would be right with the world. I think that is what motivates a lot of fun fems too, there’s this idea that if you just have enough PIV that is your choice, your empowerment, you’ll soon be basking in self esteem and all will be right with the world. The fallacy in all of this of course, is that women are not the problem.



    if you just have enough PIV that is your choice, your empowerment, you’ll soon be basking in self esteem and all will be right with the world

    That’s it. That’s the lie.

  3. Ok, now I understand. We no longer need a feminist movement, we have the Dove movement. Those ugly, hairy, smelly feminists just need the Dove movement. Then the world’s problems will be solved in a sea of self-esteem called feminiteeeee. 😦

    I’ll have to admit, when I viewed the initial video, my first thought was, “Good, no more scaly men.” Ya know, reptilian. . .

  4. Oh I think I’m going to be sick. Talk about a heteronormative gender stereotype puke-fest. Let’s look at all the “events” that made him a man – firstly, his mother was impregnated, then he went to school and learned to fight (be violent), learned that he must be physically strong (dominant), take a girl to the prom then “land” her via marriage, then impregnate her so the cycle can continue forever more. But he also needed to protect her by checking noises outside at night, and step in where she was weak, ie open the jar of pickles.

    And what is WRONG with people who think a CORPORATION is somehow interested in women as anything other than consumers? How insulting is it to think that we need a corporation to tell us to have aspirations. Oh how Dove will be point-scoring with teh menz and lib fems. Susie Orbach, author of Fat is a Feminist Issue (1979) was/is a consultant on the Dove beauty campaign. Has anyone else read her books?

  5. i didnt know that the author of “fat is a feminist issue” was collaborating with dove? thats interesting! thanks sea!

  6. that scene in the 2nd video where the wife was birthing one of the children, on her back, feet in stirrups, surrounded by male doctors, really gave me the shivers. What a very unnatural way to birth, and how insulting that the male-controlled women-in-stirrups image is so common and prevalent in the media.

  7. Yes! Indeed. Could it possibly be that little girls start to see and realize what awaits them as adult females, and they start to have anxiety about it, or disassociate? And that this is totally or partially what men and male identified females interpret as an issue of self esteem?

  8. This is brilliant.
    Nobody talks about the ‘female-specific harms of the penis’ except here.

  9. i’ve pointedly never read “fat is a feminist” issue because there were certain things about it that put me off. For example she was certain that *every* woman worries about weight, but well actually, no I don’t. So I found that Greer’s take on the issue rang much truer:

    “Every woman knows that, regardless of all her other achievements, she is a failure if she is not beautiful”

    I think that just about covers it, because it includes all women–those are perceived as beautiful by society, and those who are not. It also takes into account that beauty changes over time and place, so in the past in Europe, and in many cultures today, fat is seen as desirable, THe belly-dancers in the middle east are supposed to have meaty stomachs; if they had a flat one people would be confused.

  10. lovelifefreefall, yes looking at that scene with those three smug male doctors who had just *delivered* a baby (remember, in patriarchy, it’s not women who deliver babies, ithe doctors do, when they “catch” the head apparently), the first thoughts that springs to mind are “birth trauma” or “birth rape”

  11. What exactly does womons ‘self esteem ‘ mean anyway? If we lost it how did that happen and by whom?????

    I blame the Patriarchy…..

  12. Dove does not just sell products; it reifies patriarchal gender norms. Great post, FCM.

    yay men! they rock! men are decidedly pleasant in both appearance and mannerism!

    If they could all just get sent up some space rockets and disappear from the damn planet, that would rock! That would all give us womyn some pleasant, quality time on this earth…

  13. no kidding maggie. well said. someone once suggested advertising a porn convention in a big stadium-like setting — thats really a rocket ship — then when everyones inside, close all the doors and blast it into space.

    🙂 lovely.

  14. Yeah, that would be awesome. 😀 The fuckin’ men all being sent away to another planet somewhere they’d belong. They are already more aliens from outer space than fellow humans, as far as I’m concerned…

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