traumatic impact to a man’s genitals isn’t funny

With insightful and under-appreciated media analysis, FedEx in a 2005 Super Bowl advertisement identified ten items needed for a television advertisement to be top-ranked.[1]  One of those items was a kick to a man’s groin.  Assaults and other traumatic impacts to a man’s genitals are a staple of media action and humor.  For example, the 2004 Super Bowl television broadcast included a Bud Light advertisement in which a man prompts his dog to rush up to another man and bite him in the genitals.[2]  The 2008 Super Bowl television broadcast featured an advertisement in which Justin Timberlake gets his crotch rammed against a post repeatedly.  Super Bowl advertising spots are the most expensive advertising spots available to advertisers.  Exploiting traumatic impact to a man’s genitals doesn’t provoke outrage about abuse of men, but rather helps to sell products.

Traumatic impact to one’s genitals is a common experience for boys.  A representative, scientific survey conducted in 1992 estimated that 7% to 11% of boys ages 10 to 16 experienced at least one assault on their genitals in the prior year.[3]  A representative, scientific survey conducted in 2002 estimated that about 8% of boys ages 2 to 17 experienced at least one assault on their genitals in the prior year.[4]  Most men have probably experienced at some point in their lives an assault on their genitals.  Such assaults are barely recognized as a public problem.

A major reduction in traumatic impacts to boy’s and men’s genitals would require a fundamental social revaluation of males.  That’s unlikely to occur.  Nonetheless, individuals can still exercise some freedom.  Honor and cherish men’s genitals!

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[1]  The ten items for advertising success identified in the FedEx advertisement:

  1. celebrity
  2. animal
  3. dancing animal
  4. cute kid
  5. groin kick
  6. talking animal
  7. attractive females
  8. product message
  9. famous song
  10. bonus ending

The “groin kick” is more accurately described as a “kick to a man’s groin.” Showing a sexual assault on a woman wouldn’t lead to advertising success. While this FedEx advertisement obviously is meant to be humorous, its media analysis is quite accurate.

[2] This advertisement is widely available on the web and apparently remains popular.  It’s commonly described as a banned Super Bowl commercial.  That’s not correct.  This advertisement was actually shown during the 2004 Super Bowl television broadcast.

[3] Finkelhor and Wolak (1995) p. 1694 shows point estimates of 9.2% and 9.1%, with 95% confidence intervals of 7.5% to 11.0% and 7.1% to 11.2% for the first interview and follow-up interview (which occurred on average 15 months later). The corresponding figures for girls are point estimates of 1.0% and 2.2%, with 95% confidence intervals of 0.4% to 1.6% and 1.1% to 3.3%.

[4] Finkelhor et al. (2005) p. 9, Table 1, shows point estimates of 7.8% and 2.9% for boys and girls, respectively. No confidence intervals by sex are given.  For children not differentiated by sex, nonsexual assaults on genitals increase significantly across the age groups 2 to 5 years old, 6 to 12 years old, and 13 to 17 years old.  Id.  The wider age span in this study contributes to a lower overall estimate of assaults on genitals.  Moreover, since such assaults are less likely to be sex differentiated for children ages 2 to 5 years, the wider age span also implies less of a gender protrusion in assaults on boys’ genitals relative to assaults on girls’ genitals.


Finkelhor, David, Richard Ormrod, Heather Turner, and Sherry Hamby. 2005. “The Victimization of Children and Youth: A Comprehensive, National Survey.”  Child Maltreatment. 10 (1): 5-25.

Finkelhor David, and Janice Wolak. 1995. “Nonsexual assaults to the genitals in the youth population.”  JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association. 274 (21): 1692-7.

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