The Brawny Man just became the Brawny Woman.
A new video campaign from paper towel brand Brawny tells consumers that #StrengthHasNoGender by transforming their iconic Brawny Man into a woman. For the past five decades, the Brawny Man has served as the face of Brawny paper towel products. Known for his manly mustache, red flannel shirt and “brawny” strength, the Brawny Man is a famous example of American masculinity.
But women can be “brawny” too.
This is hilarious, because Brawny has always been a brand/product aimed at women. There is no feminist envy payoff here, because the mascot for this woman’s product never was an icon of manhood, at least not to men. There is nothing to steal; it was theirs all along. They may as well dress up like Fabio and declare:
I can’t believe it’s not butter!
Moreover, a group of feminists dressing up in flannel shirts and sensible shoes isn’t remotely groundbreaking. Instead of women marking a masculine space as feminine, this campaign leaves us with the image of women around the country sticking it to the man by tidying up and preparing meals.
However, one of the commercials from the same campaign last year does manage to work in brawny sized feminist satisfaction. See the swelling feminist pride Linda Alvarado experiences when she describes the moment she realized she had finally stuck it to the man. That “the man” in her story was her own kindergarten aged son seems to have made this pettiness all the sweeter:
I was invited to my son’s kindergarten class for career day. They asked him “Do you want to be a contractor like your mother?” He said “No”. They said “No?” He said “No. (sighs) That’s women’s work.”
See also: Unquenchable