I know I missed the boat on being indignant about this, but I’ll blooming well do it anyway. British audiences will have been treated to the jocular Oven Pride oven cleaner adverts, which proudly state “So easy, even a man can do it.” When they first aired in 2009, there was a great deal of discussion about how sexist it was. While it is clearly
pantomime, slapstick and really silly,
I have to weigh in on this subject (it’s been aggravating me more and more every time I watch it). It’s clearly a joke, and I understand that, but would it be a joke if you replaced “man” with “woman” or “Jew”? Is it acceptable that political correctness is itself asymmetric, and therefore politically incorrect?
As a young white British male, I feel that society views me with unwarranted prejudice on several counts. If I wear a hoodie in public, I’m a suspected vandal with a penchant for petty crimes of all varieties. If I wear a suit in public, I’m part of the “corporate machine”, engineered by the Man to subjugate others. Lastly, as a man I am boorish and unfeeling, and unable to multi-task.
Maybe I’m simply the victim of a role reversal, and now the modern day male equivalent of the feminists who had legitimate reasons to attempt to alter our chauvinist culture. But what was the ultimate goal of feminism? Was it to achieve equality for women, or was it payback?
Now, before you destroy my comments section, I don’t think women consciously are out there to take men down, and there are plenty of examples of both genders self-sabotaging their own social progress in adverts (far too many in fact to mention). I’m just trying to underline what I think may be a problem with the way we view what is appropriate and inappropriate to joke about. I genuinely feel that we are legitimising an epoch of “temporary revenge” (where the formerly oppressed get a few cheap shots on their oppressors with impunity), which doesn’t have a well-defined end.
And it makes me feel uneasy. Either everyone is a target for humour (to paraphrase the writers of South Park) or no-one is. Double standards in this regard betray the memory of those who worked and suffered to end the iniquities of the past, only to see their successors instigate iniquities of the future. And I probably won’t be buying Oven Pride. Hear that, HomePride?