Oh "light" beverages. When will you stop freaking out and shoving your unnecessarily constructed masculinity in our faces? The latest in this long line of I'm-so-manly-it's-sexist diet drinks (predecessors include Miller Lite, Pepsi Max, and Coke Zero) is none other than Dr. Pepper 10, with a new ad campaign that screams IT'S NOT FOR WOMEN.
What makes a calorie manly? A tiny patch of chest hair and a miniature disdain for womanly calories?
The drink itself is gender-neutral enough—I bought some of it last night for testing purposes—basically amounting to a Diet Dr. Pepper with two extra grams of sugar ("diet"=girly, but those 10 calories are all man, baby). What makes this a MAN'S DRINK is apparently the "gunmetal gray" can—complete with rivet decals! Because it's so strong and manly you need a power tool to open it (?)—and its supremely douche-y marketing strategy. Check out this commercial, but DON'T WATCH IT IF YOU'RE A WOMAN BECAUSE IT'S NOT FOR YOU. (All-caps shouting courtesy of Dr. Pepper.)
Feels like a condensed version of this fall's anxiety-inducing masculinity-obsessed TV lineup, yes? The insecurity that permeates every pixel of this campaign, because men might be perceived as feminine for drinking something lower in sugar (oh horror of horrors!), is so over-the-top blatant that it would be funny if it weren't damned depressing. Diet drinks are for ladeez and you guys are men: WE GET IT. Also: WE DON'T CARE BECAUSE IT'S A FUCKING DRINK AND THEREFORE NOT GENDER-SPECIFIC IN ANY WAY. RELAX.
But wait! There's more! This campaign has a men-only Facebook page! (Psst: I joined though so you don't have to.) The page is mainly just pictures of Dr. Pepper 10, the Chuck Norris of Diet Drinks™, but if you "like" it you gain access to "The Dr. Pepper Ten Man'Ments: The definitive guide to social protocol for men." Lest you think these man'ments (yeah, I don't think that joke works either) are about Dr. Pepper 10, think again: They are about Facebook etiquette. More specifically, they are about shaming men for the sissiness that apparently oozes out of every move they make on Facebook. You know, because it's a soda commercial!
For your edification (it is a DEFINITIVE GUIDE), here are the Man'Ments, reprinted in full:
- THOU SHALT NOT OMG. If it's not exploding, it's not exciting.
- THOU SHALT NOT PUCKER UP. Kissy faces are never manly.
- THOU SHALT NOT POST PICS OF YOUR OUTFIT. Unless it's battle armor and you have a gigantic sword and/or small bazooka.
- THOU SHALT NOT POST FURRY ANIMAL VIDEOS. Exceptions made for beasts fighting to the death and bears destroying idyllic picnic scenes.
- THOU SHALT NOT MAKE A "MAN-GAGEMENT" ALBUM. That is all.
- THOU SHALT NOT SHARE YOUR HOROSCOPE. Daily.
- THOU SHALT NOT INSTAGRAM YOUR LUNCH. Real men eat lunch not tweet it.
- THOU SHALT NOT UNTAG UNFLATTERING PICS. We know you were there.
- THOU SHALT NOT END A COMMENT WITH A =)
- THOU SHALT NOT MAKE A FACEBOOK PROFILE FOR YOUR PET, baby and/or imaginary friend.
And here's my attempt to break as many man'ments as possible in one Facebook photo:
(My pet, Edith, making a kissy face while wearing an outfit in an instagram lunch "mangagement" photo omg-ing about her horoscope :) Man'ments broken: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10. Also, she's a LADY drinking a "NO WOMEN ALLOWED" beverage!)
There is, I'm told, a second level of Dr. Pepper 10 on Facebook that I cannot access because I am not a man. According to the New York Times, it contains, among other things, "an application that allows it to exclude women from viewing content, which includes games and videos aimed at being 'manly.' For instance, there's a shooting gallery where you shoot things like high heels and lipstick, for example. There is also a 'man quiz' with questions on activities like fishing and hunting."
This is just a diet drink, I know, but campaigns like this one serve to reinforce a gender binary in a way that harms everyone. MEN are this and WOMEN are that and there is no room for anything in between (including people who identify as neither a man nor a woman—you'll have to figure out which diet drinks to consume on your own without the help of Dr. Pepper I guess).
Says Jim Trebilcock, executive vice president of marketing for Dr Pepper, "Women get the joke. 'Is this really for men or really for women?' is a way to start the conversation that can spread and get people engaged in the product." Well Treblicock, it's also a way to get a Douchebag Decree.
UPDATE: Change.org has a petition going on their website to stop this campaign. Sign it to let Dr. Pepper know that you don't appreciate their douchebag-y sexism!