In this Dove for Men commercial, the actor describes what it means to “be a man” throughout your life. This list includes, “Be good at sports”, “lift weights, be strong, know how to fight”, and “don’t show your sensitive side”. This commercial, while attempting to be humorous, reinforces gender roles and the strict delineation of masculinity and femininity in American society. Masculine attributes depicted are athleticism, aggression, bravery, and sexual prowess. Furthermore, the way the commercial depicts women shows them as the antithesis or “Other” of man, as Beauvoir states. When the man in the commercial shows his “sensitive side”, he is emasculated by a woman and is meant to feel shame for that. The women in the commercial are constantly asking for favors of the man, and while the man is active the woman is constantly shown as demanding more and more of him. Women are shown as being the lesser of men, incapable of doing what men can do. The commercial thus not only reinforces gender roles, it gives primacy to men and masculinity while actively demeaning women and femininity to appeal to the largely male audience of the Super Bowl.
Finally, this commercial promotes a heteronormative view of society, showing that to “be a man” you must have get married to a woman and start a family. This commercial infers that if you are not heterosexual, even as a male you cannot be considered a “man”. Gender roles as depicted here not only place value on masculinity over femininity, they place unrealistic expectations on males of all sexual orientation to be seen as “men” in society.
Beauvoir, “Introduction” to The Second Sex (1949)