What would you write for Klondike bar?

I was watching TV the other day and saw a commercial for Klondike bar that made me spit out my drink. Then, in the next commercial break, I saw a second Klondike ad that made me want to hurl. The ads were part of their well-known “What would you do for a Klondike bar” campaign, but they were just awful.

In the first ad, the thing that this guy would do for a Klondike bar was listen to his wife for five seconds.  No, really.  He listened to his wife speak for five seconds, a feat of endurance so bold and daring that he deserved a Klondike bar as a reward. In the second ad, two men held hands for five seconds. Another feat so bold and daring that they deserved a reward. What was going on here?

You can watch “The Good Listener” and “The Hand Hold” on the Klondike website.

I did some quick scanning on Youtube and found some older ads along the same lines:

(Note: Why is this woman reading a magazine standing up in the kitchen? Is she allowed to leave?)

And this one.

Really, Klondike?

I grew up eating Klondike bars. They were my dad’s favorite, and since my dad was pretty much the coolest person I knew at 6 years old, I figured they must be pretty great. Watching these ads now, as a Klondike-lover and self-actualized woman, I feel betrayed. How long has Klondike been peddling sexist, homophobic drivel before I noticed?

The most frustrating part is that “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” is potentially a really great ad campaign idea. Think of all the wacky things that people might do for this tasty treat! But instead of taking advantage of the many creative ways you could answer this question, Klondike is falling back on tired stereotypes, trying to “reach” their male audience by portraying men as  boorish oafs, insensitive jerks, irresponsible babies, or homophobes. Nice, real nice.

I don’t really have much else to say. Criticism of these ad tropes is out there and available (check out coverage of recent yearsSuperbowl ads) and I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t been said before by Sarah Haskins.

Instead, I’m writing this from a place of  disappointment and betrayal. Brand loyalty is a real and powerful thing, and it hurts when a company you always liked lets you down. Of course it’s naive to expect that companies will be ethical, or that their branding choices will align with progressive values. So I guess this is just another one of those “innocence lost” situations. The glorious ice cream bar of my childhood is now forever tainted.

What would I do for a Klondike bar today? Nothing.

The Jewish Press Must Not Kowtow to Religious Homophobia

This is another piece I wrote for Jewesses with Attitude in response to a Jewish newspaper’s retraction of a gay wedding announcement. I am re-posting it here because, though it is about an incident that happened within the Jewish press and Jewish community, the lessons are applicable to the mainstream press and national community as well.

On October 4, the New Jersey Jewish Standard published an apology for printing a same-sex wedding announcement. In that apology, the paper’s editor, Rebecca Boroson, made it clear that the decision to stop running same-sex wedding announcements, and the apology, was in response to pressure from the so-called “traditional/Orthodox” Jewish community. Thanks to the internet, the outrage felt at this editorial decision was felt across the nation.

David A. Wilensky at Jewschool was quick to respond with a letter to the editor. He wrote:

Next week, you will be apologizing to the wider Jewish community for jumping at the snap of some Orthodox bullies’ fingers. You will be forced to apologize to unaffiliated, non-denominational, Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Jews for forgetting that they are the vast majority of the community. Despite your otherwise pusillanimous handling of this journalistic catastrophe, you somehow managed the chutzpah to apologize for the “pain and consternation” you caused a few noisy homophobic readers. When can we expect your apology to the gay community for the pain and consternation you have no doubt caused them?

Today, the NJ Jewish Standard published a note on Facebook, saying:

We ran the wedding announcement because we felt, as a community newspaper, that it was our job to serve the entire community — something we have been doing for 80 years.We did not expect the heated response we got, and — in truth — we believe now that we may have acted too quickly in issuing the follow-up statement, responding only to one segment of the community. We are now having meetings with local rabbis and community leaders. We will also be printing, in the paper and online, many of the letters that have been pouring in since our statement was published. The issue clearly demands debate and serious consideration, which we will do our best to encourage.

This response seems to have satisfied Wilensky, who wrote: “In the end, kol hakavod to NJJS for recognizing their mistake and rectifying it. And kol hakavod to NJJS for stopping the apologies in their tracks.” He even suggested that the NJ Jewish Standard’s interest in encouraging “debate and serious consideration” on this issue is an example of “journalism of the highest order.” With this last point, I respectfully disagree.

As someone who has spent more time studying journalism ethics than working as an editor or reporter, I will admit that my opinions are based on idealistic principles rather than experience. Still, I don’t believe that “fair and balanced” means giving equal time and voice to “both sides” of an issue. Especially when that issue is a question of equal rights for gay people. A newspaper that says it is “not affiliated with any program, organization, movement, or point of view, but is dedicated to giving expression to all phases of Jewish life” should not hide behind “fair and balanced” in order to avoid taking a stand and acknowledging that “giving expression to all phases of Jewish life” means including gay Jewish life. Saying that this issue “demands debate and serious consideration” is a practical, political, and cowardly way out.

Exclusion is a form of discrimination and so is giving voice and legitimacy to homophobia in a paper that is supposedly for “everyone.” And this type of discrimination is directly related to the sorts of direct harassment and bullying going on in schools and colleges that has contributed to a tragic string of suicides by LGBT youth across the nation. Comedian Sarah Silverman bluntly connects the dots in this video:

The NJ Jewish Standard could not have picked a worse moment to kowtow to the homophobic minority of the national Jewish population.

The It Gets Better Project, started by Dan Savage to give hope and support to LGBT middle school and high school students, has been getting a lot of positive and negative attention. Tablet writes: “While most coverage of the project has been favorable, there has been some backlash, among other things over the fact that the project allegedly stereotypes religious people as bigoted. Religious people bigoted? Thoughtful people refuse to play into that stereotype. So do thoughtful publications.” As much as the Jewish press would like to keep the Jewish community united, religious homophobia is still homophobia and it has no place in publications that are intended for the larger Jewish community.

Here’s how you can help:

Sign the petition to tell the NJ Jewish Standard to print same-sex wedding annoucements. (“Encouraging conversation” is NOT sufficient.) You can also participate in Wear Purple Day on October 20th to honor the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/month due to homophobic abuse in their homes at their schools.

Equality is not something that requires “debate and serious consideration.” It requires courage and love for all of our Jewish brothers and sisters. It requires us to be brave and take a stand on what we believe in. It is obvious now that there are lives at stake.

[Originally posted at Jewesses with Attitude]

Is your husband GAY?

From Christwire.org:

Is My Husband GAY?

Right now in America there are over 2 million couples secretly struggling with homosexuality in their marriages. Are you one of them? Are you having intimacy issues? Are you suspicious about your husband’s late night activities? Or are you oblivious to a problem that could be putting your health and the livelihood of your family at risk? Don’t tell yourself that you’re simply being paranoid without taking a closer look!

Did you realize so many couples were secretly struggling with homosexuality RIGHT NOW? “Drawing on the expertise of spiritual and medical professionals, Christwire has put together a list of 15 commonly-accepted characteristics of men struggling with homosexuality within a marriage.”  I originally wanted to go through these one by one … but I just don’t know if I can even manage it. It’s just too funny and too horrifying at the same time. I just. I can’t. Please let me know if these made you laugh or cry.

1. Secretive late night use of cellphones and computers
Porn addiction is closely associated with homosexuality and a secretive nature implies he’s trying to hide something from you. Be on the lookout for a man who doesn’t want to web surf or answer phone calls in your presence. Texting is another favorite trick used by adulterers. For the sake of trust, a married couple should share everything, including phone logs, email accounts, chat friends and website histories.

2. Looks at other men in a flirtatious way
When you’re out in public, does he spend too much time looking at other men? Is he fond of winking at people? Does he get visibly upset when someone does not return a compliment about his physical appearance?

3. Feigning attention in church and prayer groups
Have you noticed a lack of interest in spiritual issues? Does it ever seem as if he’s just using church as an excuse to spend time around young men? Does he volunteer to mentor in all-male groups?

4. Overly fastidious about his appearance and the home
Natural men have a certain amount of grit about them. They sweat and they smell. Homosexuals often abhor this sort of thing and will also be incredibly particular about the cleanliness of the home. Does your man tweeze his eyebrows, trim his pubic hairs or use face moisturizers? Is he picky about brand name shampoos? Does he spend more time getting ready for a night out than you do?

5. Gym membership but no interest in sports
Gay men use the gym as a place to socialize and to have secret liaisons in the bathrooms. They like to work out their bodies without the competition of sports play. Afterward, they use the showers and steam rooms to engage in sexual activity beyond the prying eyes of women. If your man returns from the gym too exhausted to talk or have sex, that is a worrisome sign.

6. Clothes that are too tight and too “trendy”
Gay men don’t need words to communicate their availability for sex “hook ups.” They silently broadcast the news by showing off their lean, hard bodies in designer clothing labels. If your husband owns skinny jeans and looks at his buttocks in the mirror or if he wears an inordinate number of small-sized t-shirts, it is probably worthwhile to pay more attention to his private activities.

7. Strange sexual demands
Fetishism is a sign that a man is seeking a harder thrill beyond the normal intimacy of heterosexual relations. The woman may not appeal to the deep desires that are coming to the surface as the marriage drags on. If there is a sudden interest in sodomy, sadomasochism, lubricants, role-play, sex toys or other non-traditional intercourse methods, this is clearly an indication of deep emotional abnormalities.

8. More interested in the men than the women in pornographic films
Pornography is a dangerous element in any marriage but there are many Christians who feel watching it does add something to their sexual lives. If you have gone down this road and find that your man perks up at the sight of the men in these sorts of videos, you should be concerned. If he selects films because of specific male actors, this is an obvious sign that he is suffering from a crisis of ego and desire.

9. Travels frequently to big cities or Asia
Some husbands will spend a great deal of money traveling far from home to hide their deplorable same-sex actions. Big cities offer indulgence of every kind. From gay bars and clubs to prostitutes and sex bathhouses, a man seeking encounters can find them easily if he’s so inclined. Is there ever really a good excuse for a husband to visit Thailand or San Francisco without his wife?

10. Too many friendly young male friends
Someone who makes an extra effort to surround themselves with younger men should raise concerns in any community. If this is the case with your husband, ask yourself if he prefers their company to that of women. Do they touch each other or embrace in long hugs? Do they exchange expensive, personal gifts like scarves or cologne?

11. Sassy, sarcastic and ironic around his friends
A man who is secretly engaged in homosexual activity with others may exhibit feminine qualities when they get together in a group. In a sense, he has “let his hair down” and this will be seen in excessive back talk and speaking with one’s hands.

12. Love of pop culture
It’s quite common for young men to enjoy the science fiction end of popular culture, but when your husband becomes overly obsessed with romantic and feminine shows, that is cause for alarm. Gossip websitesGlee and The Golden Girls are three well-documented icons of the gay movement that genuine heterosexual men avoid.

13. Extroverted about his bare chest in public
Does he go shirtless in the back yard or at picnics when other men are around? Does he wear a speedo at the beach? Does it seem like he’s purposely standing right in the middle of a crowd to show off his chest and arm muscles, peppering people with questions about how strong he looks? He may be craving physical affirmation from other men and desperately looking for hints of shared desires in those around him.

14. Sudden heavy drinking
Sometimes people dealing with an unbearable emotional issue like homosexuality will turn to alcohol to hide their distress. Does your man disappear on drinking binges for long hours without answering his cellphone? Is there a strange odor about him when he returns, some strange mix of cigarettes and gel? Does he cry frequently?

15. Ladies, have you dated men in the past who turned out to be gay?
This is an important question to ask yourself when your marriage starts to have problems. Statistics have shown that women who have encountered gay men romantically in the past are the most likely to repeat this mistake in future relationships. If you answered yes, you should ask yourself whether you’re honestly looking for a man or just a shopping companion. Is sharing gossip more important to you than raising children? Ultimately, it’s a question of getting your priorities straight!

I think this list covers every gross and annoying stereotype and bigoted element of homophobia. Seriously – if you can think of one this list DOESN’T cover, let me know. I’m trying to choose a favorite phrase – it might have to be “sex bathhouses.” (Oh noes! Not sex bathhouses!)

Also, it puts forth some really disconcerting ideas about what hetero dating (sharing phone records and email accounts?) and masculinity (no public hair trimming or gossip websites, dudes!) should look like. And, of course, in true gender-police fashion, the author finds a way to blame women. Your husband is different than the traditional hyper-masculine ideal? Well, he’s probably gay and it’s your fault for choosing someone you could share activities and conversation with instead of a dudely, unkempt, sports-loving, vanilla, sperm factory. You silly women really need to get your priorities straight!

*Research credits for this post go to my good friend, Katherine.

*More research credits go to @itsdlevy for informing me that Christwire is a parody site. (Phew! – But oh, how sad is it that I assumed it was for serious? Can you really blame me considering the fact that people like Sharron Angle really exist?)