“Male Performance”

I listen to sports radio on my way to work, and if you listen enough you start memorizing all the commercials. One in particular stuck with me, and I want to take a few minutes to tease out my thoughts.

The commercial starts with a man’s voice, comfortingly, saying, “Men as we get older we all have problems with our ‘male performance’.” Now there’s a cocked and loaded euphemism. (Pun intended)

Obviously, this commercial for the Universal Men’s Clinic is for treating sexual dysfunction in men. But of course they can’t/won’t say “sexual performance” on the radio. And in doing so the commercial’s creators add a whole unintended layer of meaning to their ad.

“Male performance” as a euphemism for erections, ejaculation, typical “standard” sexual performance for me. But it can also be taken to mean as the performance of masculinity via “performing” in the bedroom. Masculinity in this sense is constructed by our patriarchal culture and it is a “performance.”

Because, really? What is masculinity? Fuck if I know. (Pun intended) This ad ties it to sex, bodies, and physicality. If you can’t perform in the bedroom then obviously somehow you’re maleness is coming into question. But don’t worry! The Universal Men’s Clinic welcomes “men of all ages” and is discrete and has drugs that work “faster and better than Viagra!”

Where does that leave non-gender binary people? Trans* people? Certain individuals may have a penis, testes, and “male” anatomy but aren’t men. Would they be welcome at this clinic? I don’t have any personal experience in the matter, but I imagine if one has a penis, erectile dysfunction is a possibility.

I’d like to think that this clinic turns nobody away who needs help. But considering the ads that also run on these sports radio stations, I have my doubts. Men’s clinic commercials. Truck commercials because trucks are manly. Golf. Always golf. New clubs, new balls (pun intended), hit longer and harder. Go fix your embarrassing deficiencies at performing maleness by buying these things. Have sex with your wife (and in these kinds of things being a man is always a straight thing). Put on a performance. Be a man.