There’s a strange phenomenon out there in the media world that I call “The Buffooning of Men”. In a strange affirmative-action-like twist it appears that advertising agencies and their clients are convinced that you can undo a couple hundred thousand years of male domination (and admitted injustices towards women), by perpetrating a continuous stream of ridicule, minimization, and marginalization of men. Watch just about any commercial that involves a man and a woman and the man will almost invariably be cast in the role of bumbling buffoon, needing the firm hand of feminine guidance to set him straight.

I was having this discussion with one of our dinner guests last night. She’s a senior executive with a world-leading consumer-goods multinational. She’s also her company’s PR face in times of crisis and is charged with putting out a whole range of potentially disastrous fires. When I first mentioned the notion of The Buffooning of Men, she balked, claiming no such phenomenon. But as our conversation continued she suddenly remembered a recent storm of letters she received from angry male consumers who complained about one of her company’s ads that featured a dim-witted husband stumbling around the campground making a mess of things, while his wife watched his antics with critical and disapproving eyes.  “You may have something there” she finally admitted.

This need to elevate one gender by humiliating another is counterproductive. Men did it for thousands of years, but now we know better. So seeking to “balance the books” through the perpetration of further injustice is highly destructive. Little wonder that young men and women struggle to find a new basis on which to relate and mate. Unfortunately, the statistics on the reproductive and divorce rates for Western countries show that we are not being successful. Like cutting your nose to spite your face.

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