Tough guys show pills can be manly

Masculinity mutates: erectile dysfunction pitchmen are new Marlboro Men

For the Record

March 14, 2004|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Are ex-football coach Mike Ditka and Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, pitchmen for erectile dysfunction cures, the new Marlboro Man?

Psychology professor Joanne Urschel thinks so, and she will state her case at the 12th annual American Men's Studies Association conference next month at Aurora University in Aurora, Ill.

"It's unimaginable a Viagra-like product would be advertised just a few years ago on TV, but they're striving for the same image as the Marlboro Man used to be," said Urschel, who teaches gender studies at Purdue University North Central in Westville, Ind. "The race driver, the athlete, the rugged football coach - and then his woman finds him more attractive because he's got pills instead of a cigarette.

"This is a subject that men just didn't talk about. There was a mystique surrounding it. Mike Ditka in that [Levitra] commercial and throwing a football was something you could not have imagined.

"Bob Dole coming out [saying] that he had been in that [Viagra] research group, and then everyone would ask his wife about it and giggle, really wasn't as unusual," she added. He "doesn't come across as an athlete."

"Now we've got these rough and tough guys saying [they have performance problems]. They're not dumpy-looking guys. Maybe a little more sensitive, but there's still that hegemonic that if you're a man, now we'll even allow you to take medication to help."

Here is a sampling of other presentations scheduled for the conference, set for April 2-4 and open to the public. (More details can be found online at www.aurora.edu/geninfo/mensstudies.htm.)

"Redefining Masculinities in Cosmopolitan Magazine," Katherine Stefatos, London School of Economics and Political Science.

"Myth, Manhood, and the Movies: Masculinity Manifest and Manipulated," Alex Tuss, University of Dayton.

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Now: An Exchange Approach to Race and Gay Men's Mating Marketplace," Richard Pitt, Vanderbilt University.

"Sports Fanship: An Investigation of the Active Construction of Masculinities," Donald P. Levy, University of Connecticut.

"Making Boys into Warriors: A Cross-Cultural Look at the U.S. Recipe," Robert N. Minor, University of Kansas.

"The Sorry Sons of the Godfather: Masculinity in The Godfather," Harry Brod, University of Northern Iowa.

"Sexual Violence: Influence of Hip Hop/Rap Culture on African-American Males," Anissa Moody, Tamika Sanders-Hayes, Kenneth Parnell, Rosemary Jeffries, Tennessee State University.

"Male Survivors of Abuse: Writings of Male Survivors in Therapy," Sam Femiano, private practice.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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