“You Always Say That…”

I was recently watching the FIFA world cup with my 14 year old brother and a commercial came on for coke. It depicted a varied group of little boys running around playing soccer through city streets. I commented “Where are all the girls?” to which James laughed and said ‘you always say that’.

‘You always say that.’

With that comment, my sweetheart little brother who wouldn’t hurt a fly effectively dismissed and de-legitimized my question. Thanks to the white male privilege he doesn’t really understand yet (and of course was only present here in a very diluted form), he was able to dismiss my albeit minor protest with a little laugh. I have a bit of a reputation in my family for being the one who makes a stink about feminist or racial issues, and there’s usually some teasing and eye rolling when I launch into a tirade, and that’s ok because they still show me respect by listening.  But I fear for James and the little conversations like that make me more and more aware of the desperate need for privilege education in our society, especially in rural white-dominated areas.  Our kids, especially the white ones and the boys, need to understand what societal privilege is, how they have it even though they never asked for it, how to acknowledge its presence, and how use it to help those who were born with less.

James is a good kid with a big heart and I have faith he’ll figure it out. But his big sister will always be in the background trying to make sure he uses that heart to understand his place in the world and make it a better place for others.

 

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9 thoughts on ““You Always Say That…”

  1. I’m not sure I understand – why does the commercial have to inherently feature girls? The subject matter (aside from the product) is a game that is all-male in this particular instance. It’s an international sport that has the potential to garner national pride. It stand to reason that little boys watching the players on the television are beginning to revere them and want to be them – that’s what the commercial represents. (Hell, I myself feel notes of veneration for these players.) I certainly would not expect a commercial that revolves around an all-female competition to feature boys simply to keep any kind of quota. I hope you’re not saying that every commercial should include women every time simply for inclusion’s sake.

    • I definitely don’t think women should be included for inclusion’s sake but rather that including women would actually be a better representation of the audience coke is trying to reach: fans of the world cup. I know just as many women/girls as men/boys who are excited about the competition, are watching every game, and venerate the players. Inspiration is not limited to gender and as important as it is to have same-gender role models, little girls can be inspired by male athletes and little boys by female ones, and they are everyday. Plus, while the players are all men, I would argue that the world cup is not specifically gendered in terms of audience. It is not marketed as a men’s event but rather, as you said, an event about nations coming together. I was just looking for a little more inclusion of women in the garnering of national pride.
      All that being said, the main point of my post was that I couldn’t even have this conversation with my brother. I would love to have talked about it with him, even if he ended up disagreeing. It’s the dialogue (like this conversation!) that’s key because it leads to awareness of other people’s opinions and beliefs even when it doesn’t lead to agreement.

      • The thing is, there are commercials that are specifically marketed to solely women, as well, and feature only women:

        http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7DaQ/jc-penney-pulse-spanish

        I’m going to also be bold here and say that, if you had seen this commercial (assuming you understood it, of course) you would not have reacted with “Where are all the boys?” or “Why is there a commercial that excludes males?”.

        I know that there are many girls and women (though, if I am to be honest, I am hesitant to say “just as many”) that are fanatical about the sport. Of course the sort of national pride and inspiration that this tournament engenders is not merely relegated to one gender – anyone who would say otherwise is delusional. But not everything has to be a feminist issue either. Sometimes a commercial featuring a group of little boys is just a commercial featuring a group of little boys.

      • I wouldn’t question the lack of men in that commercial because the product is for women and therefore the commercial features women. Coke is not for men, it’s for everyone and that’s where I made the distinction. And no, not everything has to be a feminist issue but lack of representation added to the damaging objectification of women in the media is a massive feminist issue. In a perfect world yes a commercial with little boys would just be a commercial with little boys. I’m not trying to demonize coke or even make a huge stink about this commercial in particular. I just want to raise awareness about the treatment of women in the media because so often it’s a negative one, although thankfully commercials like that link (which was great, even though I don’t speak Spanish) or the Dove Real Beauty campaign etc. are starting to make a positive change.

    • It was several days ago now but I think this is the one:

      As I’ve said before, I’m not trying to make a big protest about this commercial. Watching it again, I do see the women watching the game and even I think a couple in the crowd of children and that’s great. I clearly wasn’t watching that closely the first time. But the point of my entire post really didn’t have much to do with this commercial at all: it was about the fact that I didn’t get the chance to talk about it and about women in the media because I was shrugged off. That is where my problem lies, because I see it all the time, not in the commercial itself.

  2. You nailed it right. Very inspiring post indeed, I have too dabbled my hands at bringing some issues related to the white man’s privilege despite the negativity they are received it. If little whit boys were taught these nuances, life would certainly be easier for WoC/PoC when they they grow into men.
    Will keep an outlook for more, thanks again 🙂

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