The ad at left, along with a wealth of anecdotal evidence, has us wondering if holiday gift shopping — traditionally women's work, if Cathy is any guide — is especially burdensome for guys.
Here's the ad's text, courtesy of Sociological Images,
THE FABLE OF THE GENEROUS GENT AND THE LOATHSOME LIST.
Once a generous sir, beset by a gift list of frightful aspect, vanquished the beast with one fell stroke of genuis in a quest triumphant at The Forum Shops.
As SI's Lisa Wade points out, the ad "draws attention to what many of us feel, few of us say, and very, very few advertisers would emphasize: the gift giving mandate associated with Christmas (and, to a lesser degree, other U.S. holidays) can be an incredible emotional and financial burden, as well as a time suck." Its solution is to go to Vegas, which is kind of an awesome idea, if out of reach for most of us. And its target audience is definitely dudes.
The "stress" of holiday shopping — again, cf. Cathy, and pretty much any publication aimed at moms — is usually portrayed as the province of women. But feeling clueless and/or put-upon by the necessity of gift-buying: totally a guy thing. Much as men's magazines make a sport of bemoaning Valentine's Day obligations, ads like this one make male gift-buying seem like an impossible task — unless of course you go to Caesar's Palace.
Part of this almost certainly has to do with the fact that American women have a much stronger tradition of giving each other presents than men do. Junior high school boys don't usually buy pencil cases for all their buddies the day before winter break; twenty-something guys don't give their roommates chocolates to apologize for breaking their favorite mugs. For better or for worse, girls get initiated into gift-giving way earlier than boys, and by the time they grow up, they have much more practice. It also doesn't help that gifts remain so gendered — maybe if retailers weren't always telling us that pink things are for girls and fun things are for boys, then shopping in general might be a lot easier (dinosaurs for everyone!).