Occasionally I am going to post some of the odd images I see in the world through sociologist eyes. I saw this one on a door next to a men’s restroom at a restaurant:
I stood looking at this to figure out what it meant. The obvious is that it riffs on the idea that “men are pigs” because all they want is sex. But there are a few things underneath this basic riff.
The obvious statement is that men basically just want sex and women don’t necessarily want sex. But is this true? Do the pigs represent just virile greed of men or something else? Perhaps it’s disrespect or carelessness. Maybe the pig is a symbol of sloppiness and stupidity. Once the women find out the truth about no protection and the male intention of sex they shut down.
If this is all that it is about, why is there one guy in the room smiling with a woman who is smiling back leaning in close for a little kiss perhaps? On first glance it must mean that he’s not a pig because he is taking the right precautions to respect his potential mate. He is standing with his hands on his pockets and she is the one leaning into him. There is a certain level of unfamiliarity between the couple but the interest in pursuing their relationship further is evident.
So what does this guy have that the pigs don’t? He has attracted a pretty woman who is very interested in him as a man and not a pig. Based on the tag line “Evolve. Use a condom every time” the only real difference is that this guy has a condom. The one difference that he has that the other “men” in the room don’t have is that he has a male contraceptive device. It means that he isn’t after any less sex than the pigs. He is only pursuing that in a different and perhaps more responsible way. The condom is the only difference.
The other reference is that the woman is interested in him because he has the condom. All other things being equal, and they are, she is after the same thing as he is. She wants sex otherwise the condom is a non-issue. Thus, everyone in the room probably wants sex and as long as men have condoms there’s a good chance that will happen.
The message really is, “Men are pigs because all they want is unprotected sex.” The flip-side to this is that, “Men who want unprotected sex are pigs” which means that men such as these engage in other unsavory activities like over eating, making a mess, and getting drunk. We see a similar message in most other ads geared towards men: if you shave with this razor women will want to meet you just to touch your face, if you use this scent women will come to you and want to have sex with you right away. The items will help you clean up your act so women will want you! Male birds are more colorful than the female birds to attract them. Advertising gives men the illusion that male attractiveness through products is enough to make relationships and sex happen. All men need is the right “stuff” and they don’t have to do anything to attract women and have a relationship.
And yet we continue to ask questions about misogyny and seem surprised when men think it natural to take advantage of women when the opportunity presents itself. The world is our teacher and messages like this are ones we have to unlearn to have any hope of healthy relationships.