I’m sick of it and am going to boycott Unilever.
Some of you might be wondering why women like me make such a big deal about it. It’s not because I’m hyper-critical or because I like pointing out people doing the ‘wrong’ thing. It’s because such a culture has real impacts on others.
Nobody in her or his right mind would think that smelling Lynx on a teenage boy should be a problem. It’s not.
The problem is, exploiting boys’ need to feel sexually powerful over girls and to be superior to them in the senses portrayed by the advertisement means that the underlying ideals that fuel sexual and racial violence, domestic violence and skewed economical conditions (eg over 50’s people cannot get good jobs) are validated and extended. These beliefs and attitudes persist endlessly until someone or something challenges them. But if the entitled person already believes they are superior to other genders, races etc., the challenge will merely cause more violence, and the violence or control reinforces the entitlement, and on it goes. So we have to start young.
Complaining about Lynx will not get you anywhere because they won’t care. The campaign is fuelled by people getting outraged. For more information about how the outrage fuels the brand owner’s objectives, see Lynx hits the jackpot: sexist, racist and ageist.
I don’t think any of my friends or acquaintances is in the target market, but all of us have to live in that culture of sexism and objectivication of women, and all of us have somebody who is hurt by it. Including the boys themselves.
For anyone interested in boycotting Unilever products, here’s the list. For a great explanation about why one should point the finger at the company and not just the brand managers, see this article in The Age.
Unilever’s pretty text about their social and environmental concerns, predictably, does not include anything about commitment to social good. Unilever has attracted a lot of criticism from environmentalists – so much that I’m sure a quick google search will give you a good idea – but I would anticipate that the measures they are taking in the environmental area fall well short of redressing any ills. But that is not my fight to fight today.
Update: Collective shout is running a campaign over the Christmas period to draw sales away from exploitative brands and reward brands which promote healthy self-image to girls and boys. See:
Cross ‘em off your Xmas list: Collective Shout releases blacklist of corporate sexploitation offenders