How Stupid Are Men?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to explore the controversial topic of how stupid are men – based on the way TV commercials are portraying men as inferior, inept idiots.

First a quick update:

“A dangerous example for parents”
Watch the TV interview I gave to Australia’s “The Morning Show” revealing the biggest mistakes Billy Ray Cyrus made with daughter Miley Cyrus and what we can learn from the mistakes of celebrity parents such as Carlos Leon – father of Madonna’s daughter Lourdes admits “I’m probably a bad dad when it comes to disciplining her.” Watch the video

“The Oscars, the stars and the Law of Deservedness”
Listen to the interview I will be giving to Filippo Voltaggio – LIFEChanges with Filippo (LCWF) on the BBS Radio Network Monday February 28 at 7 PM PST

Now, let’s talk about “how stupid are men?”

In my article “Women are taking over” , I reveal a trend that I refer to as the emergence of the New Matriarchy – female empowerment. I explain that:

  • There are more women in the US workforce than men
  • More women are attending and graduating college than men (in the US, UK and Australia)
  • Churches are opening up to allow women to lead, preach and teach as ministers, pastors and reverends
  • Women are becoming a greater force in politics
  • Men are progressively being viewed as unnecessary as more women opt to raise children without a father
  • Men are being portrayed in television shows and sitcoms as buffoons, simpletons and weak, helpless idiots who cannot survive without the wife who is smarter, more grounded and the boss
  • The modern woman is being idealized as the independent, free, successful, sexually open woman who seeks a purpose greater than serving a man and;
  • Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases

One of the specific trends I referenced above is becoming more prevalent in television commercials – the portrayal of the man as a stupid idiot – inept, bumbling and clearly inferior to women.

In a TV commercial for Chase Bank (promoting the ability to manage your accounts via the cell phone) a white woman in a yoga class is portrayed as confident and coordinated as she performs yoga and quickly checks her Chase account via her phone (yes, while actually doing yoga); she then smiles with contentment and confidence as she resumes her yoga pose. But the white man (the everyday man) next to her struggles and looks like a bumbling fool, unable to keep up with the class and almost about to fall over.

In another new television commercial (for Tide Acti-Lift laundry detergent), a father (a white everyday man) tries to stop his daughter from wearing a very short jean skirt. How does he do this? Not by speaking to her, communicating, bonding, trying to understand her, disciplining her or explaining to her why he is against the short skirt. No, he reveals himself to be a sly idiot – the best he can do is to stain her white skirt with his dirty hands, hoping that it will permanently stain his daughter’s skirt thus rendering it unusable. His wife, though, uses the Tide Acti-Lift laundry detergent and suddenly we see the teenage girl dressed in the gleaming skirt as a female voice says “Dad may try to ruin your style but dry stains won’t” and then she pats him on the head and ruffles his hair the way a human would do to a dog (a non-verbal gesture of superiority and familiarity) as she walks out on her way to a date leaving dad sitting there bamboozled and looking and feeling like a helpless idiot.

The message in this Tide TV commercial is that dad is powerless, makes no decisions within the household (his only useful purpose is to fix a few dirty things around the house and maybe provide the weekly check) and that the actual decision maker is mom (along with daughter) who together defy dad, have little respect for him and then openly reveal his insignificance when the teen daughter walks out confident and free – seemingly able to do as she pleases.

The theme and message in these television commercials and countless others is that the man (dad, brother, boyfriend or the everyday white man) is dumb, an airhead and incompetent – useless at almost everything while the woman is smarter, more intelligent, successful and more confident and skillful than the man and often she is getting him out of trouble. The women always appear happy, confident, quietly content or even smug that they have one over on the man. Note that you will only see the white man portrayed this way in TV commercials – never the black or Asian man. In the controversial Pepsi Max commercial aired during Super Bowl, the black woman is portrayed as angry, controlling and violent while her black boyfriend is gravely afraid of her.

Why would advertising agencies create these types of commercials?

The answer is simple: as mentioned above, women account for 85% of all consumer purchases. Therefore the intention is to appeal to women and to create a sense of female empowerment associated with the product – in the hope that women will then buy the product.

However, the advertising agencies fail to realize that the commercials don’t empower women at all because the creators of these commercials don’t understand what female empowerment is or how it is measured; nor do the agencies understand relationships or what women really want.

The first fallacy is the belief or notion that a woman is empowered by feeling superior to the man.

Empowerment is the strength of an individual in spiritual, political, social, or economic areas. From a philosophical perspective, personal empowerment is about the confidence in one’s capabilities and the ability to decide each day for yourself how you will feel regardless of other people’s opinions.

Accordingly, female empowerment is not about feeling superior to men, openly insulting men, degrading, belittling men, or playing into the old stereotypes of men. Female empowerment cannot alone be measured by a comparison of male and female intelligence and prowess. The act by the advertising agencies to create such commercials only serves to actually insult and belittle women by implying that a woman’s power comes from her competition with and comparison to a man. This constant competition with genders (along with the portrayal of men as buffoons) only serves to undermine and destroy relationships as it creates a power struggle and a search for superiority by one partner over the other.

The next greatest fallacies by the advertising agencies are the implied assertions that women are attracted to dumb men (upon whom they cannot rely) and that women are smarter and more talented than men.

Philippe Rushton, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, conducted a study and claims that he and his colleagues discovered that males surpassed females by an average of 3.6 IQ points. Of course, IQ alone is not an accurate measure of intelligence and does not incorporate tests of emotional intelligence.

Do women want a man that is intelligent?

David M. Buss is a professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, known for his evolutionary psychology research on human sex differences in mate selection; he has written “The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies Of Human Mating”, “Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is As Necessary As Love and Sex” and “Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge”. Professor Buss says studies of women’s mating criteria consistently show that intelligence is valued by women: “Women are indeed attracted to intelligent men, and in fact marry men on average 4 IQ points higher than their own.”

Anthropologist April Gorry, a social scientist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, in her thesis (1999) studied women who had affairs with men in Belize. She noted that modern women were attracted to the competent, strong men, rather than the token man – “the drones and eunuchs found in the Western workplace” (a phrase given to Western men by Jeanette Belliveau – author of “Romance on the Road.”)

Dr. Gorry also revealed that women were highly attracted to men who displayed mastery over their environment – in stark contrast to the Western TV commercials that feature men who have no mastery whatsoever over their environment (household.)

April Gorry also analyzed the character traits of the heroes of 45 highly successful romance novels, written by and for women, and she found that:

45 of the 45 heroes were muscular, 44 handsome, 42 strong, 35 large, 40 sexually bold, 39 calm, 39 confident and 38 were described as explicitly intelligent. Not one hero was described as unintelligent.

It seems that the advertising agencies truly have no idea or clue about what women really want given that the typical commercial designed to appeal to the woman buyer does not portray or demonstrate men with any of the above mentioned qualities or traits which creates a profile of a warrior versus the ad agencies profile of a wimp or defeated man. (I do not subscribe to the clear cut definitions or stereotypes of gender roles and identity, but, please note the tragic case of David Reimer and the fraud committed by his psychologist Dr. John Money. David Reimer was born a healthy male but following a botched circumcision, David was raised as a female. Dr. Money lied to the world saying David’s reassignment was successful, and cited it as evidence that gender identity is primarily learned. However, David later admitted to the world that he never identified as a female and went on to commit suicide at age 38.)

Television commercials trying to show just how stupid men are (and which are possibly also designed for laughs) do not empower or help women or relationships. Interestingly, in the romance novel, which represents the woman’s idealized version of love and relationships, the ultimate goal of the heroine is to win the hero and for them to become one; and this can never happen in the novel or in real life when a man is portrayed as stupid, incompetent or highly inferior. Anti-male stories and male-bashing on television only serve to embed the beliefs in women that a good man cannot be found, women cannot trust or depend on men and that women must depend on themselves; the result is unstable relationships, weakened families and poorly-adjusted children.

The real indicator of intelligence (and courage) on the part of both genders is to stop condoning, supporting or watching these television commercials.

You can comment on this newsletter below.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

Facebook Comments
23 replies
  1. Avatar
    Erol says:

    “Do remember, though, that sometimes the people you oppress become mightier than you would like.”
    ― Veronica Roth, Insurgent

    In studying revolution, one often sees that the oppressed rise and rule from anger of past injustice. Maybe there’s an unconscious turning of the “women are stupid” in the other direction? In the misogynistic era, the group think of the majority supported their paradigm. Turned 180 today, we see most male characters on TV are either stupid or killers (or the men killing the killers). The stereotype of the “stupid husband” is a very strong one.

    Simple survey, ask wives if they think their husband is stupid. I imagine we’ll see something interesting.

    To think that anyone is stupid, and look for it, is quite a terrible injustice.

  2. Avatar
    Michael Weaver says:

    “Patrick’s thoughtful, well supported
    post was a comfort to me. It’s not just in advertising, but also in the
    discourse of intelligent, influential women, this notion that there is a
    superior gender, and that it’s female. Only slightly less prominent in this
    discourse is the idea that there is an unnecessary gender, and that is male.

    I’m a regular viewer of a morning news program with a progressive political
    orientation. The schtick is the built-in friction between a former
    Republican congressman and the daughter of a significant former Secretary of
    State in a Democratic administration. The woman of that anchor duo is
    unabashed in her eye-rolling, sighing and supportive commentary whenever the
    subject of male inferiority is broached. Somehow it comes up fairly often.

    My own former boss, Donnie Deutch has more than once on this program said
    point-blank that, when interviewing two candidates with even nearly equal
    qualifications, he’ll, “. . . hire the woman every time.” His explanation
    is specifically that women are doers and men are lazy. Having worked for
    Donnie, the facets of backstory that come to mind are far to numerous to
    examine here. And this on a “Progressive” political news program.

    I know the pendulum was way over in the other direction when I was a child –
    at least insofar as TV programming depicted gender roles. But still I grew
    up conscious of the power of the women in my mother’s circle of friends. Of
    her six closest friends, five were independently powerful in their marriages
    and in the community. Powerful enough for even a child to recognize.

    The need to believe that one gender is superior seems incomprehensible to
    me. Sad seeing that idea take root for whatever reason. And from a
    25-year veteran of Madison Avenue, I see it not just in advertising.”

  3. Avatar
    Schadenfreudian_Slip says:

    The failure to associate the superior, eye-rolling woman with her apparent poor choice of a husband or boyfriend remains a gaping hole of an unasked or un-cogitated question.

    I’m usually stunned with the current trend of car insurance ad agencies portraying men as the new “women as bad drivers” theme. Further, as Jozef Goebbels’ pogrom of propaganda proved, an oft-repeated message eventually becomes a cultic truth. Once a society accepts a fear-based prejudice as truth, the horrors that can be committed by aggrandizing that myth are a matter of record.

    That fewer men are considering marriage, or even attendance at college, is in no small part an unintended consequence of what was originally offered with good intentions. We do know that quite often the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, don’t we?

    The ad industry’s misguided prejudice should drive women to consider how they would react if the tables were turned. Women–the power that drives advertisers to unleash their arrogant bigotry–need a serious self-examination: what kind of impact would institutionalized hatred have on their young boys OR young girls, watching the same message, packaged separately by a variety of advertisers, for hours each day, 365 days a year for many years running?

    Women have earned a lot of power and influence over the years. After the chuckling has subsided, women need to step up–woman up?–and grab ALL forms of prejudice by the horns and command it to change…as men apparently USED to do. For example, if women had no right to vote, who bestowed it upon them? Just as men favored equality for women, women really need to get it in gear—look how women impacted the recent USA presidential election. To quote the dumb-Cajun-male portrayed by Rob Schneider in “The Waterboy,” “You can do it!”

  4. Avatar
    Ro Gal says:

    I’ve been boycotting companies that bash white males for years now. I changed from GEICO to USAA, I use UPS instead of FedEx, I chose the lesser evil of AT&T over Verizon, and the list goes on. Now my wife and 2 brothers do the same. Eventually we’ll impact them. Keep on keeping on!

  5. Avatar
    Kate Houston says:

    Great article and a lot of good feedback. I’ll be linking to this article from my own blog – I’m a female ad writer who also writes online dating profiles. As such, this subject interests me on many levels. The blog will be (I’m in the midst of writing it) titled, Are men the new dumb blonds. Thank you so much for this!

  6. Avatar
    Michael Pollack says:

    After several years of talking my friends ears off about this subject and sounding like a bitter man…I found your site and this trend never stops and it definitely leads to women believing it is ok to treat men like this. Here are a few more commercials for you. Chase add using points to send her husband to rock camp. Boy wants a dog and creates a video to show parents and then husband does same thing to play golf on Sunday and wife rolls eyes at him. New McDonald add for shamrock shake man comes home to jealous wife demanding to know where he has been.
    I am tired of the “yes dear” husbands in commercials It really upsets me. I am proud of the guy who boycotted Huggies when they showed men as idiots who could not change diapers…maybe we can do the same to McDonald’s chase and the countless others

  7. Avatar
    Russ Stauffer says:

    Thanks for this well balanced analysis of what has become the norm in TV . One wonders if the current trends of boys having worsened scholastic achievements and less professional aspiration is related to the flood of negative male tv roles. Even more alarming, I’ve noticed a clear blind spot when I ask women what they think of the feckless Male roles dominating TV ads. The most common response I’ve seen has been “what in the world are you talking about?”.

    I’m not against laughing at human foibles. Humor is a wonderful thing and a potent sales tool. But I am sad to see the effects and backlash that the feckless TV male has contributed to.

    The world is still mostly run by males, usually white – a huge imbalance in my view. Maybe these commercials are payback. But they won’t help truly change society to become more truly equal. instead, they appeal to the same base motives already inflamed by talk radio, polarized politics etc.

  8. Avatar
    Gene says:

    I agree with you completely. I’ve watched this trend for more years than I wish I had, and it’s not only accelerating, it’s worsening. By that, I mean the frequency of this type of portrayal is increasing as well as making the man/dad more profoundly incapable. What these advertisers forget is that they are alienating a substantial number of the fifteen percent of the male buyers and even some of the females. I can only hope for a backlash one day

  9. Avatar
    Jennifer Rodriguez says:

    Hi Patrick, I would like to point out another unintended consequence of the media portraying men in this fashion.
    Once men start to see themselves portrayed more and more in this negative way in commercials, it “unconsciously” angers them and they start “buying” into the belief that women’s empowerment is all about “emmasculating!” them and “gaining superiority” over them, and it creates a “backlash” against all women’s rights in general. Men begin to unconsciously believe that they are in “competition” with women and they have to “fight back” against “the feminist hordes.” In short, it produces an unconscious anger fueled by fear and false beliefs.
    As you so rightly pointed in your article, true female empowerment is not about male-bashing and this is not what most women want. Women are not looking to “compete” with men for “superiority”, they are looking to gain genuine rights and choices in society and the most prominent femenine leaders of the women’s movement have often publicly stated that they are not against men nor into male-bashing, although the media loves to distort their comments and make it seem so to the general public.
    These commercials play into men’s unconscious fears about losing their place and value in society and already, I have seen in the general media some manifestations of these fears coming about. In the past couple of years, I have seen a few articles written by men complaining about the high numbers of women going on to higher education and advocating a “limitation” on that as it “threatens” the number of men who also get admitted. They’ve also “blamed” this trend as the reason why men are getting “left behind” in education overall.
    So far, none of these articles have been taken seriously enough to have an effect on public policy but certainly, if the media “fans the flames” by continuing to create this kind of crap marketing meant to scare men unconsciously and give women a false sense of empowerment, I can see how future backlash against women’s rights in general could easily come about.
    You are absolutely right in calling on everyone to stop supporting this kind of crap marketing which grossly distorts what women really want and plays into men’s unconscious fears. To assume that this is just “advertising” and nothing more is to simply accept passively the way the mass media controls and manipulates our minds into playing small with our lives. The HUGE amount of psychological damage these kinds of commercials are doing to relations between the genders should never be underestimated, downplayed, belittled nor passively accepted. We NEED to defend ourselves by becoming consciously aware of how our fears are being manipulated and used against us to keep both men and women in a CONSTANT state of conflict so that there can NEVER be true empowerment nor liberation for either gender.

  10. Avatar
    Alex says:

    Have you been living under a rock for the past 40 years? This has been the trend in advertising for at least that long. Women do the majority of the household shopping. So why on earth would advertisers make fun of them and make them look stupid? You can’t make fun of the children, because that would be cruel. So the only member of the family that it’s safe to point fun at is dad. We all know that in reality, men are usually the ones bringing home the money for families. Men are the head of the household, so if it empowers women to buy their product by poking fun at their hubby, that’s what advertisers will do. I suggest you look at advertising that’s aimed at men, like car ads, razor blade ads, etc… They all portray men as young, fit and intelligent. If you really believe that this is some kind of trend aimed at emasculating us, then maybe we’re not that smart after all. It’s advertising, nothing more.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Alex,

      I clearly stated that the commercials target women because women make up 85% of consumers but that does not justify the way advertisers attempt to appeal to women.
      Have you seen the Pepsi Max ad? A black woman slams her black boyfriend’s head on the table and then throws a can at him, misses and hits the white girl who was supposedly flirting with him. Please give me an example of a similar commercial 40 years ago.

      Yes, you are right, men are portrayed differently in commercials that are aimed at men but, the commercials do not openly insult or portray the women as inferior, bumbling, powerless idiots the way the commercials targeting women do. Take the Chase Bank commercial, the Tide commercial ( ) and the Kindle commercial (, then swap the gender roles and watch the reaction of women when suddenly the woman is portrayed as inferior, weak, uncoordinated, stupid and an inept parent.

      Also, imagine the Pepsi ad with the black man slamming his girlfriend’s head on the table and then throwing a Pepsi can at her; what do you think the public’s response would be?

      Yes, TV commercials and television shows are emasculating men, intentionally or unintentionally, as well as slamming men as fathers. In the latest season of the Bachelor, one of the new contestants goes up to the Bachelor and upon introducing herself openly slaps him in the face. Do you think the public (women specifically) would have been okay if a man had done that to a woman on a reality game show?

      Read what I wrote about the media and gender roles in my newsletter:
      The media and gender roles

      Morality and the portrayal of men and women have dramatically changed – some for the better, most for the worse. The epitomes of 1950s TV were “The Honeymooners” and “I Love Lucy.” In almost every episode of the Honeymooners, Ralph, who represented the working class man, would physically threaten his wife, Alice. With his fist clenched and waving and punching the air, Ralph would threaten to punch Alice and send her to the moon: “One of these days, Alice, one of these days, pow, right in the kisser.” And if Alice wasn’t obeying him, Ralph would set her straight: “I give the orders. Now go to the stove and fix me my dinner!”

      Meanwhile, Lucille Ball portrayed the sweet, charming, naïve and ditzy wife who lacked showbiz ability, was careless with money, but was a devoted housewife and attentive mother. Her antics often tested her successful and intelligent husband. In the 1970s, Mary Tyler Moore’s TV character would open the door to reveal the single, independent, career woman who wasn’t seeking a man to support her. Concurrently, the number 1 TV show in the US for 5 years was “All in the family” featuring Archie Bunker, an outspoken, stubborn, ignorant bigot who often called his wife a dingbat.

      But in the 21st century, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme. In commercials and TV shows (“The Simpsons”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”, “Family Guy”, etc.) men are being portrayed as buffoons, simpletons and weak, helpless idiots who cannot survive without the wife who now is smarter, more grounded and the boss. In “Everybody Loves Raymond”, Ray fears his wife, rarely answers back; Debra, his wife often calls Ray an idiot and she only fears Marie, Ray’s wife and the matriarch of the family.

      In the 1990s, the TV show “Sex and the City”, helped shape the modern woman with its portrayal and idealization of the independent, free, successful, sexually open woman who seeks a purpose greater than serving a man. However, the 2010 movie “Sex and the City 2” emasculates men as it demonstrates how extreme the concept of the modern woman has evolved or devolved: Carrie is married and adored by her husband but she is bored and wants to go out to bars and clubs; Charlotte, is unsatisfied with raising children; Miranda, the successful working woman feels unappreciated at work and; Samantha, the sexpot is also unsatisfied. So what do they do? Go on a vacation and go shopping. The message is that women are selfish, never really happy, can’t be satisfied – particularly not by men.

      Finally, you conclude by saying “It’s advertising, nothing more.” Do you believe that because it is advertising that therefore there needs to be no standards, no boundaries? Do you also believe that because it is advertising it has no effect, no implications and no consequences on people, relationships or behavior? If so, would you be okay with a commercial showing a man slamming a woman’s head, or a man openly calling a woman an idiot? Would you be okay with an ad portraying a woman as a horse’s ass (like the Sony Cyber shot commercial where dad is a horse and speaks out of his ass – literally)?
      “It’s advertising, nothing more” – right?

      All the best,

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