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“Be a man”. St. Petersburg resident creates social ads for males


Two residents of St. Petersburg decided to break the stereotypes of a modern man and came up with a social ad for the subway. Banners mocking glam magazine types appeared on the subway and social networks. Why the beard doesn’t guarantee masculinity and what men should aspire for – in Anna Melnik’s report.


Bad boys can be recognized by a beard and men magazines – which they use to guard themselves from the realities of life. PR specialist Kirill Korobkin came up with an advertisement, calling on men to be men in their actions – not looks – after his pregnant sister told him a story. Some man didn’t let his seat to her on the subway train filled with people

Kirill Korobkin, author of the “Be a man” project: “Life is a lot more complicated than we show on a banner. But we’re looking at particular situations. Men became the targets of our social satire”

Photographer Roman Sokolov made two set-up glossy shots for the “Be a man” project. All characters look nice, but do not spark positive emotions. That’s how youths must be brought up, say authors of the project – laughed at. Or, using the social networks slang, trolled.

Roman Sokolov, photographer, author of the “Be a man” project: “The situation is brought to an absurd level. We take young men, full of energy. They want to look masculine, grow beards, dress just like they see on TV, but – eventually – someone is sleeping, someone just doesn’t pay attention”

Its unclear yet whether this advertisement will be displayed on the subway – the undergound authorities are considering it. But 5 thousand online users did react to the “Be a man” project. Some have pointed at what they believe is a violation of men’s rights.

“Stupid ad. I can easily come up with an opposite example – a tired male student standing with a pile of textbooks in his hands and there are 3 glam ladies with glossy magazines and ridiculous heels sitting in front of him. And a sign – heels do not ensure priority seating. Or a worn-out construction worker whose look suggests he has been digging something for 12 hours and there are 3 fatsies with crossword puzzles sitting in front of him. Its all as usual – soviet mentality and sexism in people’s heads” 

We decided to check whether the situation from the banner is possible in real life. We took St. Petersburg resident Mariya Tyrina down to the subway – she is 8 months into her pregnancy. Amateur video shows the results. Women and immigrants from Central Asia are offering their seats more often – immediately taking off their seats. St. Petresburg’s middle-aged men cannot boast the same attitude. Some are sleeping – or pretend to be sleeping. Others read periodicals. Experts say it is possible that these men had been traumatized by helpless women some time ago.

Artyom Ovechkin, psychologist: “Imagine a huge raging woman storming into the cart in a bad mood, looks for a prey, finds him and avalanches down on him – sometimes using bad words. He can offer his seat once or twice, on the third time may turn aggressive himself”

There are few billboard-type stylish bearded men on the subway. But comical situations happen. Here is this young man flirting with a fellow passenger. A senior man falls asleep on his shoulder. All three ignore the pointy belly of our pregnant woman. But this is an exception, to be fair – there were more polite men.

Mariya Tyurina: Older men sleep – yes, they’re tired. Younger ones have to notice a pregnant woman. Once they do, they offer their seats”

Men must offer their seats by etiquette, not by law. We didn’t count how many real men Mariya met on her way. But, its important that there are many real men. All stations of the red line Mariya was sitting. But she still decided to abstain from using public transport. She’d feel more comfortable and would not have to embarrass men with masculinity tests.