4 Things Now Considered Manly (Were Created for Ladies Only)
There are plenty of things in this world that women use that were once thought to be only for guys. Pants. Credit cards. Riding astride a horse. Peeing standing up.
There are, however, far fewer things that used to be considered ladylike that are now fully embraced by macho culture. It's almost as if guys have some ridiculous obsession with not looking girly. That said, a handful of things have managed to go from pink to blue in our culture, and here are four of them.
The Ford Mustang
The Mustang. Perhaps more than any other car, its name calls to mind things like power and motor oil and pure manliness. (Why is manliness always so dirty and gross?)
I'll pause while a certain segment of Cracked's readership rushes to the comments to argue the timeless "Ford vs. Chevy" debate while the rest of us wish you'd all take public transportation and just stop talking about everything.
Out of your system now? Great. Anyway, quality or style issues aside, you have to admit that the Mustang is a quintessential guy car. Even Top Gear, the most testosterone-driven show in the world, is desperate to love it. So, I'm sorry if this news shocks you, Mustang owners, but your $30,000 penis extension was originally intended to be a car for ladies.
OK, obviously car companies would sell to every person on Earth if they could, regardless of sex or gender, so they could make all the money. But in 1964, when the first Mustang hit the sales floor, there was a concentrated effort to sell it to women specifically. As part of their initial campaign, Ford put Mustang ads in the "women's" section of 2,600 newspapers on a single day.
Here, have some vintage sexism.
But the first Mustang had already been sold, two days before it was supposed to be available, to, no surprise, a lady. Gail Brown was a 22-year-old teacher and the car's first-ever buyer. As of 2013, she still owned it.
Even a few years after its debut, Ford was still telling women how a Mustang was perfect for their lifestyle. This hilariously dated commercial from 1966 promises "single girls" that the car is not only "all you could ask for on a secretary's salary" but at the end implies that owning one will help you do the only important thing in life -- find a husband.
And the whole young, unattached girl and her trusty Mustang theme continued in their print ads.
That's the number of guys who have been in the backseat.
Honestly, Google Image search is so full of these early women-oriented ads that I have had to be really selective about the ones I'm including. But I have to throw in this final one that seems to promise women with young children ("Life was just one diaper after another until Sarah got her new Mustang") that if they buy one, their husbands will be so turned on by it ("Suddenly there was a new gleam in her husband's eye") that they will want to have more sex with them ... or the car; it's not really clear.
Easy mistake either way.
Soon, though, the ad campaigns changed to the manlier fare we're used to, and the Mustang went on to be known as a guy's car, hitting the peak of cliche maleness in 2007 when it starred as an evil police cruiser in a Michael Bay explosion-fest about boys' childhood toys.
So, in a sense, it was probably the racist Transformer too.
You've come a long way, baby! I guess!
Old Spice has gone through a lot of changes. The one we're most familiar with happened in recent years when the scent we've long associated with the days when your grandfather used to smoke at the doctor's office while getting his nagging cough checked out suddenly switched gears and rebranded itself for the younger generation. While Old Spice has put off a manly air for a long time, these new ad guys act as if they must defend their stereotypically masculine credentials at all costs, lest they literally die of cooties. I just pulled my husband's Old Spice Denali body wash out of the shower. On the bottle it is described as smelling like "freedom" and compared to owning "a cool car."
"But not a Mustang -- those are for chicks."
Unless you are really bad at reading titles and predicting patterns, you know where this is going. Despite its uber-masculine appearance, Old Spice was originally created for ladies.
More like BOOBY sachet, am I right?
Technically, there is nothing masculine about spices of any age, unless you count the fact that we sometimes used to go to war over them. That was a long time ago, though. Nowadays, the word mostly calls to mind kitchens and baking and grandmothers. And in 1937, when William Schultz released Early American Old Spice, he based it on his mother's potpourri, with notes of rose, spice, and herbs. And while the men's version was released a year later, it smelled pretty much the same, and traditionally scented Old Spice still contains hints of those girly aromas.
At least the store names were phallic.
The original ladies' scent was hugely popular, but soon the men's version eclipsed it, and the branding was changed to reflect this, with manly ships instead of lame-ass flowers.
Before anyone starts yelling, I know that somewhere around 40 to 50 percent of comic buyers are female. But you can't argue that the perception is that comics are for boys and that the vast majority of the people who make and market superheroes in all mediums tend to be guys. That's how those ridiculous "fake geek girl" accusations happen. Even though women and girls are spending money on all superhero-related things just as much as boys are, as a culture it is still awash in testosterone and often turns hostile toward its female members.
Just as an aside, I think all of you, male and female, are crazy. I do not see the appeal, at all. But I have a Tumblr, so I know this is a giant issue.
Pictured: The last superhero movie I saw.
So I'm an anomaly, apparently. Women like superheroes and some very loud guys want to keep their conventions and comic book stores ovary-free areas. But they have been fighting a losing battle from the very beginning. There are a few different ways to define when superheroes started, and women were definitely a large part of the target audience.
While Superman didn't debut to the world until 1938, in 1936 The Phantom was introduced as, arguably, the first costumed crime fighter. And where did The Phantom do his ass-kicking? In an Australian women's magazine, right next to articles on how to deal with teenagers and ads for baby food.
During his press tour for the long-forgotten movie version of The Phantom, Billy Zane even made sure to point out that the original audience for the comic was ladies. And The Phantom wasn't the only one. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. was also featured in women's magazines.
But there is another contender for the first superhero. During the day he was a rich playboy, but behind a mask he transformed into a vigilante. While he didn't have any supernatural powers, he used his brains and his money to rescue innocent people and foil bad guys. While he was a great fighter, he never killed. He used his secret identity to do things the law couldn't. Who was this hero? Everyone say it together -- it was ... The Scarlet Pimpernel.
I feel like maybe all of you didn't say it.
That Batman-tastic backstory was dreamed up way back in 1903 by the decidedly female Baroness Emma Orczy, decades before the name Bruce Wayne meant anything to anyone.
One of the most iconic marketing campaigns of all time was the Marlboro Man. That rugged, all-American cowboy sold people cancer sticks for 45 friggin' years. Or, rather, a succession of cowboys did, since they kept dying of smoking-related diseases. Even after the campaign was finally retired in 1999, the name Marlboro still conjures up an image of the open plain, a chiseled man on a horse with a cigarette dangling from his lips.
The smoke protects against all that deadly fresh air.
But why? WHY have such a stereotypical depiction of masculinity to sell your cigarettes? Before Marlboro did it, there wasn't any connection between cowboys and smoking. If anything, lighting up would probably make cattle driving and Brokeback Mountaining more difficult. The answer is simple: the company had been marketing their cigarettes to women for years and wanted to change tack. And they managed to do it in months, making the Marlboro Man one of the most successful campaigns of all time. Because boy did those ad guys have their work cut out for them.
When Marlboro Cigarettes first appeared in 1924, they were marketed as a classy woman's cigarette. At first ads just featured a well-manicured hand reaching for a smoke, but soon the company hired actress Mae West to shill their brand of lady-killers.
The company was so eager to get the women's market that they changed the end of their cigarettes to a deep red. This, they proudly advertised, meant that you would never have any unsightly lipstick stains on the end of your cigarette -- plus it had the added bonus of matching your nail polish!
Those yellow teeth, on the other hand, totally your problem.
One of the reasons that the Marlboro Man campaign is considered an absolutely astonishing success is, prior to that, Marlboro spent three decades convincing the world that they were a classy cigarette for ladies. Even filters were considered unmanly. And yet one rugged cowboy made an entire generation forget about that in a matter of months.
Is there any way we can get some cowboys to start promoting showering daily?
For more from Kathy, check out 5 Ways 19th Century England Makes the Modern World Look Tame and 4 Ways We're Programmed to Think Women Aren't Funny.
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