The other day I was watching an MTV teen dating show when an ad for the new Axe product, the ‘cool metal shower gel’, came on. The tagline was “girls are getting hotter and hotter- use axe to keep your cool.”
Aside from the blatant fat shaming and unrealistic representation of “conventional beauty” and “what you should look like so men find you attractive” (we need a whole other article for that) in the advertisement, it conveyed another message as well: the idea that women are these incredible, powerful masters of mind control. I watched the men in the commercial crash their bicycles into parked cars and accidentally set fires in a flustered daze as “conventionally” gorgeous women simply walked by them.
It dawned on me, for real though; like seductive sirens in stories of ancient mythology, the charming Margaery Tyrell from Game of Thrones, sexy undercover spies in classic movies, and Moira O’Hara from the TV series American Horror Story (who seduced a man and later ripped off his penis with her teeth), we can do so many things! Well, I mean, I already knew we were awesome- this commercial just validated it even more by blatantly displaying it to the public. If just looking like a hella hot chick and using our girlish charm can reduce men to helplessness and make them unable to control their physical actions, we might as well use it to our advantage. Yes, this ad was extremely offensive- but it also reiterated the fact that we are the ones with the power here. When they thought up the idea for this not-quite-as-idiotic-as-we-originally-thought commercial, I do not think the creators of Axe intended to convey this sort of message to us.
By portraying the men in the commercial as weak victims to the ever-powerful hold that a bangin’ pair of tits always seems to have on them, what this ad really did was send a message to women- a message that says, in the words of Beyonce, “Who run the world? Girls.” We live in a society where schools police young girls’ outfits so that the little boys don’t get overwhelmed by the spaghetti-strapped shoulders in the seat in front of them and get distracted from their schoolwork- a society that blames female rape victims for “so naively” assuming that not every male at the bar may be a potential rapist when she decides to indulge in a drink- a society where I’ve heard the situation of a scantily clad female in a room full of men being compared to throwing a steak in a shark tank as if men are these savage beasts, not human beings responsible for their actions.
We are taught that men have all the control, and then we are taught that they have none of the control. So which is it? They have enough control to be able to take up the highest government positions, lead nations, march entire armies into war, and run their families… but they can’t control their actions when it comes to an attractive woman. So who REALLY has the power here? Part of the reason for this is an idiotic attempt at claiming all the power when they’re right and then taking no responsibility when they’re wrong, but part of it is because women are more capable than they grow up thinking they are, due to… well, our patriarchal society.
Yes, it is misogynist as fuck and it is offensive to both women AND men- but it says something more than just that. It is telling women that we have a lot more power than we think. It is telling us that we are the ones in control. If lookin’ like a foxy babe can rend a man tongue-tied and cause him to lose control of his judgment and motor skills, what else can we accomplish? We could do something mind-blowing, something pivotal, something incredible. Like, I don’t know, a badass feminist revolution?
Author: Jamie Faye
Jamie is a student at Mount Holyoke College.