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“OneTouch” Ad Commits Two “Isms” in Two Lines March 23, 2009

Posted by Onely in As If!, Everyday Happenings, Heteronormativity, Just Saying..
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

(David-i98, Wikicommons)

Usually doctors’ waiting room magazines are where I look for my Brad and Angelina updates, but the other day I happened upon something else:  an ad for OneTouch Diabetes Monitor that double-dips into singlism and sexism. Yay!

In the print ad, the headline across the man’s face reads, “Chris. Newly diagonosed. Motivated. Father.” Then in smaller text, Chris himself says,

I’m only three weeks into being a guy with diabetes, so I’m learning to check my blood sugar. Why? Maya, my four and a half year old daughter. I will dance at her wedding.

Oh, Chris, Chris, Chris. What if Maya is a lesbian and can’t get married? Or what if–god forbid–she doesn’t want to get married? Well then, I guess you might as well just toss out that blood sugar monitor and kick it–metaphorically speaking. Bite the big one. Turn the final corner. Give up the ghost. Hand in your chips. Because why be motivated to live to see your daughter  graduate from college, or learn to snowboard, join the Peace Corps, build a backyard shed, open her first bank account, or just plain be happy?

And what if instead of Maya, you’d had a son, whom we’ll call Mark. Would you say,

I’m only three weeks into being a guy with diabetes, so I’m learning to check my blood sugar. Why? Mark, my four and a half year old son. I will dance at his wedding.

You probably wouldn’t. Because even in this day and age, symbols of accomplishment/adulthood for little boys are different (and more varied) than those imagined for little girls, for whom marriage and kids still represent a strong metaphor for their successful transition to adulthood. (Not to mention the fact that father-daughter dances are more ensconced in the wedding rhetoric than are mother-son dances, possibly because of the entrenchment of the “father giving the bride away” tradition, which is a whole ‘nother holdout from the oldendays.)

So, Copious Readership, you can see that when Onely spots singlism and sexism, even sick people are not safe. I feel like kind of a jerk for picking on Chris, but heck, he was given a venue where he could have given any number of progressive, insightful reasons for taking care of himself, and instead he just hurt my feelings.

Wait a minute! Let’s stop picking on Chris. Some last-minute pre-posting research tells me that  Chris’ quote was condensed from a short video interview  (click his photo on the web page “for more about Chris”, described in small type on the print ad).  In his video, Chris actually says,

My daughter Maya is four and a half years old. Here’s the goal: I’m going to dance at her wedding, and I’m going to go to her 40th birthday party.

So apparently the PR folks at either OneTouch or their parent company LifeScan, Inc. decided that Chris’ goal of surviving until Maya’s wedding was more ad-worthy than his goal of surviving until her 40th birthday. Their edits made his quote seem more singlist and sexist than it actually was (sorry Chris!).

Their choice of the wedding goal over the 40th birthday goal just points to society’s tired old fixation with marriage as a marker of life progression, as a social stabilizer, and now, it seems, as a cure for diabetes.



1. lori - March 23, 2009

To me it also reads like one’s life is only worth more if (married?) one has a kid and not so much because he values his own life regardless of coupling/parenthood status.
Here’s another alternative: he might have said “Why? Because I don’t want to be a burden on my family when I’m in a diabetic coma due to careless management of my blood sugar.” Family could be everyone.

Lauri - March 24, 2009

Lori- your comment reminds me of something I saw on the news a month or so ago. A man was waiting for the train on the platform when he had a heart attack or some kind of medical emergency that caused him to collapse. Luckily a nurse and an army medic were also waiting for the train and able to save him. On the news that night, the nurse said she tried hard to save the man because he was wearing a wedding ring. Her quote was something like, “when I saw it, I knew someone was waiting for him at home.”

Singlutionary - March 24, 2009

I am going to get me and my dog matching diamond wedding rings. She can wear hers around her neck. That way if I am dying on a platform while waiting for my train, someone will bother to save my life cause the know I have someone waiting for me at home. The fact that that someone is a dog is unimportant.

Married or unmarried, there is almost always an entire community of people affected by every person’s death (and life).

In defense of the Nurse, she was probably saying: “Obviously this man was loved and deserved to live.” She just used the societal signs available to her to communicate her empathy. I am sure that if he hadn’t been wearing a wedding band she would have said. “This guy had his whole life ahead of him” or something like that.

autonomous - March 24, 2009

Didn’t we have a discussion about rings and having to make a statement about our worth awhile back? Why should a piece of jewelry denote that one is any more loved or valuable than another?
The guy on the platform realistically could have been in the midst of a nasty divorce: the cheating wife hating him from their home which she won in settlement while he could only return to his crappy unfurnished apartment; the stress finally causing his heart attack. (I work in family law, what can I say?)

onely - March 25, 2009

Singlutionary, I think it’s very fair-minded of you to consider that the nurse would have found any reason to validate the man’s life. I think you’re right. I like to think you’re right. –CC

onely - March 25, 2009

Hi Lauri and all,
Did you see that Mennonno did a post on that guy on the platform? http://mennonnosapiens.com/2009/02/27/singlism-in-the-news.aspx
(I got to it from one of Bella DePaulo’s recent posts.)

2. Singlutionary - March 24, 2009

It seems like there hasn’t been much progress *at all* in the way we set up expectations for little boys and little girls. Clothes and toys are SO gendered. I am always offended when I walk through the children’s section of the store and see the girls clothes vs the boys clothes. The boys clothes have pictures of trucks and tools and cars on them and the girls have pictures of tiaras and britney and hanna montana.

It just makes me want to cry.

When people think of a little girl growing up, they think of her being a mother. Sigh. Its just true.

I am going to quit complaining and feeling so much despair about this lack of progress.

onely - March 25, 2009

I have never been able to really figure out exactly what Hanna Montana *is*.

3. Lauri - March 24, 2009

UGH!!! This may be the most common example singlist thinking that aggravates me the most. This comment: “I want to dance at my daughter’s wedding/walk her down the aisle/see my kids get married/etc” is EVERYWHERE and it not only annoys me to no end but pisses me off that this is how PARENTS VALUE THEIR CHILDREN and what PARENTS EXPECT FROM THEIR CHILDREN. A child is a blank canvass, and how their lives will play out is anyone’s guess. The fact that parents want and expect their children to be just like them sickens me! And way to undervalue every other thing a child may do in his/her life! I’ve heard my relatives make assumptions that their little children will be married and have kids some day. I have to bite my tongue to avoid saying “how do you know he/she will want to get married/will be able to get married/won’t be gay and be allowed to get married/will want to have kids/won’t have a physical limitation to having kids/etc etc etc.”

This line is so common in advertising though. There’s a Cherrios (? some kind of cereal) commercial where a father says “I want to see them get married off.” What I want is to throw a shoe at my TV whenever this ad comes on. But it’s not just advertising- Barack Obama made this comment during the campaign! I can’t remember where or when but I think i read about it in Bella DePaulo’s blog. You would think an educated man, so accomplished himself, would realize that his two beautiful daughters have so much potential for so many areas of success.

onely - March 25, 2009

I remember Obama making some comment like that–I can’t remember exactly. Maybe I repressed it. = )

DON’T throw your shoe! Remember what happened to that guy who threw his shoes at Bush!

4. Rachel - March 24, 2009

Lori beat me to this point: Why not take care of ourselves because that way we can enjoy our life longer and better? So, I’d even go further than Lori in her example: “Why? Because I want to enjoy my life and I can do that best when my diabetes is under control.” I am sure they’ll argue that this is considered selfish…

And Singlutionary captured the depressing fact: Not much has changed! This is the realization that keeps hitting me while reading “The Challenge of Being Single.” This book was published in 1974 but reads as if it was published yesterday… Argh! What the heck happened?!? I need to reread Susan Faludi’s Backlash….

autonomous - March 24, 2009

I like your example too Rachel- I was feeling a bit snarky after reading the post!

Oh, and I’ve changed my commenting handle to “Autonomous”.
Independent is still such an epithet speaking of things not changing much.

onely - March 25, 2009

Lori, I like the name change!

— L

onely - March 25, 2009

I felt the same way about The Challenge of Being Single–like nothing’s changed. I haven’t heard a peep back from Penguin about rereleasing (is that only for movies and software?) the book. CC

Rachel - March 26, 2009

I just got a note saying that they’d pass my plea on to the editors who – I am sure – filed it in a certain place… Sigh.

5. Estell Hritz - June 25, 2010

Hey I think your post is good!I found it on Yahoo. Keep up the good work.

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