Selling Manhood: Old Spice

 The way that people talk about gender make it sound like it's purely biological and immutable.  Boys and men are aggressive, driven by their biological urges, and competitive; girls and women are passive, reserved, and gentle.  What this idea misses is that gender is a social construction that has changed over time, and is shaped by many different forces.  One of those forces is from billions of dollars in advertising.

So the idea that Old Spice is selling manhood in a can shouldn't be surprising to anyone who has paid attention to their commercials.  This one is particularly noteworthy because of 1) How creepy it is and 2)It literally claims that Old Spice will make you "smell like a man" and therefore you will be treated like one.  It's important to note that the defining characteristic of manhood, according to Old Spice, is romancing women.  Any other interests would appear unimportant, and non-heterosexual relationships would not be valid for masculinity either.  It's not just that men should be sexual, it's that it's a very specific form of sexuality that is important.  Young, thin, attractive, able-bodied, and same-race women are what is desirable.  The other women are older, unattractive, and very creepy mothers who want to stop their boys from growing up, reinforcing the idea that women are sex objects or obstacles to boys becoming men.