Editor's Note: Be sure to check out the update on this story, complete with my contact and conversations with both the Ad Agency and the Karate School: Karate/Sissy Ad Update: A Teachable Moment in Stereotypes, Gender Roles, & Shaming.
In what has to be the most offensive ad campaign I've seen in a long time, Key Biscayne's Academy Of Martial Arts RDCA in Florida has decided the best way to sell their karate classes is to use gay panic.
The print ads, created by ad agency Zubi, feature young boys doing "feminine things" like wearing their mother's high heels or playing with make-up. The cure for this "shocking" behavior and the best way to "man up" your obviously burgeoning queer kid?
Super butch Karate classes.
These ads are more than just offensive, however. They are actually dangerous. Much more after the jump...
The blog at Miami New Times points out some glaring hypocrisy with the ad agency, Zubi:
You know what's funny? When you go to Zubi's website they encourage you to "Erase stereotypes." Turns out they only means Hispanic stereotypes though. Apparently, you're still free to capitalize on gay stereotypes for advertising. How hypocritical.
Even more disturbing that the use of the gay-baiting of children or the rank hypocrisy of claiming to "break down stereotypes" while using them in the basest fashion is the very real danger of playing into gay panic and encouraging the bullying or harassment of what they see as "effeminate" boys (although to be clear- almost all boys play dress up. It has nothing to do with being gay). As Andy Towle at Towleroad points out, parents hurting or even killing their sons because they see them as too feminine are not unheard of.
Pedro Jones, 20, of South Hampton fatally beat a 17-month-old infant he was babysitting because the child was "acting like a girl, and not like a boy":
Jones was charged with first-degree manslaughter after allegedly hitting the boy 'several times throughout his body with close fists' and grabbed him by the neck, according to the felony complaint filed by police. Authorities say Jones also told them, 'I was trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl. I never struck that kid that hard before.' The infant, Roy A. Jones, was reportedly found in cardiac arrest and was rushed to Southampton Hospital where he died around 8:30 p.m."
Or who can forget the horrendous story of Lawrence King, the young kid who was shot in the head in class by a classmate after he wore make-up and heels to school- you know, just like the young boys who are featured in these ads and held up as something to be ridiculed, "toughened up", or harassed.
Those ads don't seem quite so clever or harmless now, do they...