The blog post Advertising In Reverse got me thinking about other gender-swapped advertisements and photographs. Whenever I see something that is deliberately gender-swapped, my initial reaction is usually one of excitement and a bit of relief. I am happy to see something that calls attention to how women are depicted in the media. However, recently I have begun to question gender-swapping. I believe it is much more complicated than simply pushing back against how women are depicted in the media.
In the pictures from Advertising in Reverse, we see men posing like the women in the motorcycle ad pictures. Frankly, the men look silly. Really silly. As module81 suggests, the pictures are meant as a joke. But what is the joke about and what does it do? While we laugh at the sight of men’s bodies in positions we’re not used to, are we also laughing at the women who assume these poses regularly? And does our focus on the silliness of the poses distract us from the important social consequences of this trend of women being depicted in these manners?
A very interesting example of gender-swapping is Mod Carousel’s parody of Blurred Lines.
Mod Carousel says about the video:
It’s our opinion that most attempts to show female objectification in the media by swapping the genders serve more to ridicule the male body than to highlight the extent to which women get objectified and does everyone a disservice…we made this video specifically to show a spectrum of sexuality as well as present both women and men in a positive light, one where objectifying men is more than alright and where women can be strong and sexy without negative repercussions.
Originally, I liked this parody a lot. I liked how it had the potential to show men how the original video is problematic. However, I am beginning to think that this parody–just like Mod Carousel says all gender-swapping does–“does everyone a disservice.”
This article, “Why The Gender-Swapped ‘Blurred Lines’ Parody Gets It Wrong” captures many of my thoughts about why this parody isn’t as wonderful as I originally thought. It argues that the video
normalizes that behavior in ways that don’t quite critique the fact that these power dynamics exist in the first place, a world where femininity is policed and exploited…By having these women continue to perform predatory male behavior, it only upholds male patriarchy. Mod Carousel seems to suggest that the song’s content is okay and that you can sing “I know you want it,” just as long as you’re female, but what it does is uphold a world where femininity continues to be predated.
It then suggests:
If Mod Carousel wanted to critique the system, they would show us a world where both women and femininity are powerful, and you don’t have to act like a man to be the master of your domain.
Similar arguments are made in a Feministing article called “Mod Carousel Remakes ‘Blurred Lines’-But Does It Subvert The Misogyny?”
Overall, I’m starting to think that gender-swapping pictures, ads, music videos, etc. are not helpful. Do people agree with me? If so, how can people more effectively achieve what gender-swapping attempts?