My role


'Best message ever' or 'patronising crap'?

Rachel Stevens and her suggestive plum fondlings are fine by malehealth readers.

Nearly 4 out of 5 respondants to a survey on the Forum's health information site agreed that the advert produced by the Institute of Cancer Research, in which the scantily-clad singer cavorts on the bed while discussing testicular examinations, was fine by them.

Rachel StevensIndeed, all four potentially sexist ads in the survey were considered acceptable by respondants. A PETA ad promoting vegetarianism using a naked female body was considered OK by 62%, a deodorant ad was considered OK by 71% and 63% thought that the traditional pin-up girl car calender was OK.

However, while Rachel, right, was popular with all ages, the other ads were somewhat less popular with men under 25 with majorities in this age group against the PETA ad and the calendar and opinion pretty much split on the deodorant ad.

The sexism survey is the latest is a series of snap surveys on the Forum's websites designed to get the views of men and health professionals on current issues in health. The most popular survey revealed that 98% of men would take health MOT if it was free on the NHS — a finding that will form part of the Forum's response to the health white paper.

The survey had 239 responses but 98% would be statistically significant on considerably less than this.

In another survey, 96% said they would be more likely to buy men's magazines if they included good quality health information. Some 76% said sex education at school did not tell them what they needed to know while 90% believed doctors' surgeries should be open evenings and week-ends.

More on the malehealth surveys here.

There are also surveys on the MHF site. The current topic is patient choice. Let us know if you have any ideas for snap surveys.

So what did readers have to say about the ads in the sexism survey?

One Rachel fan said : 'the Rachel ad uses the male attraction to the attractive-looking female to promote a vital health message particularly targets the audience (young males) who need to heed this message most. It is one of the best messages I have ever seen transmitted using this method. Any suggestion that it might be sexist is far outweighed by the good it will achieve.'

Another agreed. 'Rachel is a perfect way of reaching a target, this society is happy to discuss womens cancers but not men's! '

Another said: 'There is nothing wrong with depicting the female body as long as no one is degraded by doing so. Health campaigns are worth the attention they attract.'

One respondent objected to perceived political correctness. 'If something is presented in such a way as to cause the intended recipient to look at or read what is being promoted it has achieved its intention. The people who object have a problem. Do the same people feel that showing distressed children in an advert on TV to promote child protection is wrong?'

But not everyone agreed. One man said simply: 'Just give the message straight instead of this patronising crap.'

Another who was not happy with either Rachel's ad or the vegetarianism one said: 'In advert 1, the use of a female model holding a pair of plums is a serious distraction from a very serious issue, and highlights to me that as a society we still cannot openly discuss urino-genital health issues for men in an adult way. I, and I guess a lot of men, ended up looking at the girl and not recognising that it was an ad about testicular cancer. Advert 2, I find disturbing in sofar as it is reminiscent of an pin-up from the 1970''s which reduced women to being meat/cattle. I am not certain what on earth PETA was trying to achieve. It didn't increase my sympathy for their cause.'

Another took his objection to charities using sex stereotypes further. 'Sex has and will always sell things. However, it is when stereotypes are used in a derogatory fashion to raise funds for charities, etc, that I take great exception. Priciple amongst these are the demonising ads by such as the NSPCC who falsely (against their own research stats) portray men as being the principle perpertrators of abuse on children.'

A health care campaigner summed up the equivocal attitude of some: 'Whilst I or any decent bloke, never mind health care professional, can't condone sexism or discrimination, we have to work with the tools we have (see what I mean!), so if this campaign can get blokes interested in their health needs then, sadly, we have to do it this way. What I have found in my role is once you have got them talking about health then we can work on attitudes and awareness.'

What do you think? The survey is still open - you can still give us your views.

Page created on February 6th, 2006

Page updated on December 1st, 2009