So I’m learning about marketing at the conference.
It’s irritating because it’s easy, in typical marketing, to describe a problem. The problems are in front of us all, every day: people feel bad about their bodies, they worry about their orgasms, they fret about lack of desire, and they don’t understand why sometimes their bodies don’t seem to be doing what their mind is telling them to do.
The solutions… well. Take the example of feeling bad about your body. The usual marketing approach to this problem is to say, “Wanna be attractive? BUY THIS!” And that feels intuitively valid; we’re used to the idea that there might be some jeans or moisturizer or technology or moisturizing jeans that will make us attractive.
But the health promotion marketing says, “Wanna be attractive? LOVE YOUR BODY!”
“Well no shit, fuckface,” says the target audience. “If I could do that, I wouldn’t be looking at your stupid marketing media.”
Or they look at it and think, “Yeah I should love my body. But I don’t. Damn it, I suck so much for not being able to love my body!”
So you (the health educator) think to yourself, “Okay, so they need to know HOW to love their bodies. They need to overcome the barriers, real and/or perceived, between themselves and loving their bodies. Um. So. How do I do that on a poster or a 30 second video or tweet or 200 word blog post?
Did I mention it’s irritating?
Marketing health behaviors is hard because we need to market ideas and behaviors (i.e., solutions to your problems) that are VASTLY more complex than the ideas and behaviors that are sold to you all day long. Indeed, the reason those simple ideas are the ones sold to you is precisely BECAUSE they are simple! Not because they’re likely to work or even because they’re easy, but because they can be communicated adequately in the given medium.
One Idea at a Time, quoth the session leader today. Like, maybe:
1. The thin ideal is a social construction of the media to make you feel like shit so that you’ll buy more shit.
2. Internalization of the thin ideal predicts negative health outcomes, both physical and mental.
3. There is no meaningful relationship between weight and health, within about an 75 pounds above the medically defined “ideal” weight. Honestly. I know that’s the opposite of everything you’ve ever been told, but it’s TRUE. So the thin ideal only hurts you and doesn’t help you to be healthy.
4. I know people judge women negatively for expressing affection for their own bodies, but if you can avoid letting that bug you, loving your body will have excellent impacts on your physical and mental health.
5. Love your body.
Or take orgasm with intercourse:
1. Less than a third of women are reliably orgasmic from intercourse. Another third are sometimes orgasmic from intercourse. The remaining third are never or almost never orgasmic from intercourse.
2. The clitoris is the primary organ of women’s sexual arousal. The clitoris doesn’t get good stimulation (on most women) during intercourse, which is why that’s not a typical mode of orgasm.
3. You may still want to have orgasms from intercourse because you’ve spent decades being lied to about it and you can’t eliminate your unrealistic expectations just because I say they’re unrelaistic, so if you want to have orgasms from intercourse, add clitoral stimulation.
4. You may not feel comfortable touching yourself in front of your partner and you may not know how to ask your partner to touch you and you may not feel comfortable using a toy with your partner, so use different sex positions to maximize pressure of your partner’s pubic bone on your clitoris.
5. Woman-on-top usually means you rock your pelvis against your partner’s; it usually DOESN’T mean what you see in porn, which is a woman bouncing vertically on her partner’s cock and making squeaking noises. That’s a show for the partner, not a strategy for increasing clitoral stimulation.
You see what I mean? It’s irritating that my messages are ACTUALLY HELPFUL but too complex to express effectively in a medium that parallels the medium whose messages I am trying to counteract. If you see what I mean.
Mainstream media poisons my students with toxic (and wrong) ideas about their bodies and their sexualities.
Being an alternative voice is my job. But I am struggling now – and looking actively for ideas – about how to make my voice as salient and interesting as the glitz and shine of Cosmo or Gray’s Anatomy. (Grey’s?)
I may have to resign myself to being a tiny alternative voice, stumbled on by those who think to look for a different way of thinking.