YetAnotherGirl sent us a link to a post at Jezebel about a sign MarketFair Mall, in New Jersey, put up (and then took down after criticism and a petition) to apologize for any inconvenience some remodeling might cause:
The sign does a couple of things. It normalizes the idea that the type of verbal harassment women often face when in public (see my post from a couple of years ago for a personal example) is, in fact, the natural outcome of how women look. Rather than feeling harassed, women should interpret such comments as the compliments they really are. Yes, yes, we can shake our heads and act annoyed, but isn’t it ultimately nice to know we look good?
The sign also reinforces a certain view of working-class masculinity, one in which working-class men are crude and lacking in basic civility, unable or unwilling to control how they express themselves, a fact that everyone else may find a bit irritating but should ultimately shrug off with a bit of a smile.
This view of working-class masculinity is reinforced in a Dutch commercial sent in by Sarah van B. The commercial is for Gamma, a chain of hardware stores in the Netherlands. In it, boys build houses out of Legos, displaying various stereotypes of rough, brutish masculinity: lack of middle-class manners (burping, nose-picking), uncontrolled bodies (belly hanging out, visible butt crack), and group harassment of women:
Sarah translates the call to the woman as “Where are those pretty little legs going?”
Such depictions normalize the harassment of women while also associating it with a general lack of sophistication, something that only the lower classes would engage in. They encourage the audience to laugh at the men who do so, finding humor in their brutish antics, but also reinforce the idea that women should just expect this type of behavior from the type of men who do manual labor.