Women for Sale

Trigger Warning: Violence against women and men including abuse and rape. Graphic images.

In many conversations and debates about pornography, promotion of violence against women is a common theme.  Indeed, this is often the position of those on the anti-porn side of the porn debate such as Catherine MacKinnon, who “pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment and, with Andrea Dworkin, created ordinances recognizing pornography as a civil rights violation.”  However, I’m left wondering: What about the rest of the representations of women, gender in general, sex, and violence in the media at large?  Porn is hardly the only thing teaching us about sex, and I’m not talking about sex-ed either.  Here, I’m talking about TV ads, magazines, billboards, bottle labels, and the list goes on and on.  In advertising, women are often objects in many senses.  To sell products, marketers use women.  They use sex.  Gender.  Violence.  Take these examples (please note that some of these ads have since been banned):

In this Calvin Klein ad, what’s being advertised?  Jeans or gang rape?

And in this Dolce & Gobbana ad?
Look at her face.  Eyes closed, mouth limp.  Is she conscious?  Is she even alive?  Her body positioning says she’s holding her lower body up.  So did he tell her to play dead?

Here’s a slight variation:

And what are we supposed to want to buy from this shower scene?

Granted, though not often, sometimes it happens to men, too:

And here?  What’s for sale?  Beer or easy access?  (Not to mention what a woman’s back should look like and what color her lingerie should be.)

Here, a similar ad shows that beer decreases the censorship of women’s breasts.  Get her drunk, get her naked.

In contrast to this one: She’s not good enough.  He’s supposed to say that dress looks good on her.  “No, honey, your ass looks great in that dress!”  But given his face, he’s struggling because he doesn’t think it does.  He thinks she’s too curvy, so he needs some liquid courage:

Here is a blown up picture of a shoe. …with a woman tied to it.  If MAX is really selling the shoe, why is the woman even there?

Is he offering her some vodka or his penis?

Pole dancing or sex with a vodka bottle?  Note that we don’t even need to see the woman.  Chopping off the rest of her is fine because we get the point with just her legs.

Again we just see her legs.  What’s happened to the rest of her is left up to our imagination.  (By the way, this is a shoe ad, in case you were wondering.)

The rope in this one leaves even less to our imagination:

Go natural.  (Now, what is supposed to be “natural”?  The vodka?  The ginger?  The woman?
Did you think I meant the woman when I said the ginger the first time? The sex?

Are we buying jeans or an orgy?

And here we have an “unforgivable woman,” who… must be punished?  I wonder what she’s done.

This woman seems to have been “bad,” too.  Or maybe she just “likes it.”  Either way she’s bent over this man’s knee to be spanked.  But it’s still about that dress and that suit… isn’t it?

What do you think about BONGO from this cover?  Would you guess it’s “just” a clothes company?  That this is “just” a clothes ad?

The text here says “For sexier knees.”

Note the woman to the left:  Her eyes are covered so we can see her gaze.  She has fabric around her neck around the same height where the man’s right hand is; has it become a collar?  A leash?  A noose?  And the woman to the right: His hand is on it’s way right up her pants.  Search or rape?  And we’re supposed to “relish it,” whatever it is.  If we’re women, we’re supposed to relish being manhandled and “searched.”  And what is it Relish is selling again?

Fashion is all about accessories!
Now, here’s a question.  Are the sunglasses, purses and shoes (note that they’re men’s shoes) the accessories, or is the woman?

Does she look happy to you?  Does this look comfortable?  Consensual?

This one speaks for itself.  Check out that caption.  Clearly it’s all about organ donations… right?

Now, let’s consider our audience.  These ads are targeted at adults, right?  Well, how about Glee?  These kids are supposed to be high schoolers.  And what (who?) does this say a high schooler should be doing?

And how about here, where one of the stars of Glee is posing on the cover of… Cosmo?
Please note the placement of the words “Get Naked.”  And she’s supposed to be what, 16, 17, 18 at the oldest?  And a sex object?  What’s for sale, Cosmo or Lea naked?

Here we have exotification, and the woman’s belly button has become a man’s mouth.  Her breasts have become two people, possibly women, with fabric over their mouths so they are silenced.  Are we buying beer or “Brazilian culture”?

The brunette, the redhead, the blonde.  These women aren’t even reduced to their own hair color, but the color of the beers in their hand.

What’s for sale?  A dress or drugs?  And the women?  The objects of exchange.
Furthermore, what might this “fashion ad” say to a recovering addict?  What might it trigger?

Here, the hair on this woman’s body isn’t even her own, rather, another brand.  We also only get to see parts of her.

Why she needs those sunglasses is unclear, given that her eyes are closed…

Now, let’s compare a group of men in their underwear:

First to Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign:

Then to some Victoria’s secret models:

This is supposed to be about the camera.  When you look at this ad, what do you see?  And check out the caption in the top left.  Are you thinking, “Now that’s good advertising!”?

Are you thinking about perfume here?

How about now?


Finally, check out the cover of the magazine here and ask yourself the same question of our media:

Think it’s just these ads?  Or just advertising in general?

Think about song lyrics and music videos:
CAUTION: Strong Language (She’s just an object.): “What’s in the songs we’re listening to?  What do we pour our money into on iTunes and in clubs?  What do these videos say about women?”

Before getting all up in arms about the violence occurring all around the world, look at the magazine on your coffee table, listen closely to that song on the radio, watch those ads and see what (or who) the product really is.  We all do our part in supporting the oppression of women.  When women are reduced to mere objects, what do we legitimize?  What do we say is okay?

Are women even people?  Or just items for sale?

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One Response to Women for Sale

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Women for Sale | All Rights for All – Todos los derechos para todxs -- Topsy.com

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