FIRST-PERSON: Not So Funny
MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP) -- Tucked within an otherwise humorous Super Bowl ad by T-Mobile was a supposedly comedic line when a woman handed a newborn to his mother, "Sorry, it's a boy."
The line sounded like a thunderclap to me when I first heard it. The growing cultural bias against boys -- really all traditional aspects of maleness -- is pervasive, but usually communicated more subtly. This was a far more blatant statement than I anticipated in a Super Bowl commercial.
Even if it was supposed to be a comedic line, it was "hostile humor" making a profound point about our culture's rejecting of boys, men and masculinity.
If you think I am overreacting, consider what would have happened if the woman would have said, "Sorry, it's a girl." Every feminist leader, including every elected official who caters to their lobby, would have been outraged. There would have been boycotts, calls for apologies and resignations, and pledges of sensitivity training for those responsible for the ad. The outcry would have been loud and long!
This commercial stood in contrast to another Super Bowl ad about doing things "like a girl" -- which of course honored girls for their efforts and sought to build their self-esteem (which is a worthy goal).
So, why is it culturally acceptable to ridicule boys but not girls? Why is giving birth to a boy a disappointment? And why do I think this is a big deal?
Underlying all this is the opposition to maleness, feminization of boys, and rejection of gender distinctives in our culture. The goal is gender-neutrality -- genderless participation policies, unisex public facilities, same-sex marriage, etc. Maleness is something to be fixed, not celebrated and shaped.
We might laugh off a silly ad, but the sad result of our cultural determination to redefine manhood is in our future. We won't be laughing when we get what we are striving for.