Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sexism in Advertising: Bad Advertisements

This ad adds sex appeal and glamour to a lifeless woman.  This ad is sending the message message that being emotionless and passive-even dead-can be sexy or appealing traits in a woman. This mindset can perpetuate the acceptance of dehumanizing women through rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other forms of sexual violence. KLS's ad, which physically shows this woman lying on the ground, suggest women's role is one that is subordinate.

Images such as this contribute to a rape culture that condones and promotes sexual assault, domestic violence, and other forms of violence against women by glamorizing a dead woman, depicting her in the ultimate form of powerlessness. The man is shown without remorse, conveying the message that it's okay to treat women in this horrific manner. Does Duncan Quinn think images of abuse like this one are sexy?

We find this ad for Bertolucci and the Serena A. Garbo line of watches to be offensive because of the ways in which it objectifies women. The woman in the ad has been reduced to a body; her face is not within the frame. This unfortunate positioning suggests that women are valued principally for their bodies. Further, the background of the picture, many staring men who have surrounded the woman, indicates that the objectified woman exists only to satisfy male sexual pleasure. The absence of the woman’s face means that the reader cannot determine whether or not she even desires this attention—suggesting that the woman’s opinion doesn’t matter. The fact that the men in the ad entirely surround the woman embodies and emphasizes the fact that women have been trapped by the male gaze.

This advertisement both infantilizes women and turns them into objects. The models in the advertisement are most likely in their late teens or early twenties and yet they are dressed as if they are young adolescents. In doing so, Juicy Couture idolizes the look of being young and innocent, and turns the women into objects of desirability, even in a sexual sense. This is evidenced by the bearing of the models’ thighs. The models, especially the one on the left, are given a doll-like appearance, thereby making them lifeless and turning them into objects. The positioning of the legs and arms, the tilt of the heads, the size of body in comparison to the perfume box, and the lifeless gaze of the eyes send the message to young women that they should be just like dolls, which would remove their sense of autonomy and agency.

The woman depicted has her head displayed off the page and is highlighted by text referring the lack of eye contact she should expect to receive when wearing Vassarette bras. By reducing women to mere body parts, Vassarette is promoting sexist behavior towards females by condoning a societal view which values women for their bodies and not their character. furthermore, Vassarette?s emphasis on the unimportance of eye contact uses sex-role stereotypes to portray women as subordinate to men. By focusing solely on attention to female breasts, Vassarette implies that a woman?s role in life is to be merely a sexually stimulating being, not an intellectually stimulating one. This advertisement not only furthers stereotypes, but objectifies women of all races, ages, and backgrounds.

The focal point of this advertisement is very clearly the woman’s breasts. The woman is featured in this advertisement solely as a sexual object. The advertisement creates an unattainable standard of beauty for women as she is very thin and has extremely large breasts and a flawless face. The slogan featured at the bottom of the ad reads, “Believe it or not, this sweet little thing can.” This implies that people should not expect much from women, as though they are merely “sweet little things” who are not capable of any real accomplishments.

This advertisement is demeaning to women by clearly stating that they are not as beautiful or desirable before covering themselves in makeup, doing their hair, and putting on sexy clothes. This ad is further demeaning because of the way it compares women to an inanimate object. In addition, the woman has nothing to do with the advertised product, she is not using it in any way, so she is only there as sex appeal.

Elizabeth Arden's advertisement in Allure Magazine exemplifies the culture of perfectionism that we live in where a woman's body is reduced to an object of imperfections. By using an actual manikin in their ad rather than a human body, Elizabeth Arden only furthers this idea that an actual woman will never live up to the standards that we have placed upon her.

This ad portrays women as superficial, with nothing more to worry about than conquering the urge to indulge in a pink frosted doughnut or denying themselves a popsicle. It also mocks the idea of a strong woman by arming her with a tricycle, pot lid or office chair to beat her temptation. This series of ads plays on the stereotype of young women being obsessed with their figures and says clearly that they are worth nothing more than how they look. It promotes the idea that women are concerned with the unimportant, such as how to “survive a snack attack”. Even as a woman is pictured in an office, her coworkers look on in surprise and grotesque shock as she beats a doughnut with her chair. This gives the idea that women are not to be taken seriously, even in the workplace.

Lily of France eroticizes this model. She is presented in a way that she looks powerless and weak. Also, Lily of France uses this model to perpetuate the unattainable standard of beauty defined by extreme gauntness. The emaciated model represents an unhealthy standard for young girls.

This ad was chosen as one of the worst ads because it demeans a woman and is suggestive of sexual violence. In this ad, the woman is blindfolded and we cannot see her face. The reader cannot tell if this woman is consenting to this act or if she is being forced to do this against her will. That gray area for interpretation is unacceptable and promotes sexual and domestic violence as well as contributes to rape culture. This type of advertising only contributes to promoting submission and denying human rights. We would like to see this advertising strategy change to promote a safe, positive environment and combat violence.


  1. These advertisements sicken me. I hate how objectified women have become thanks to advertising.

  2. Are you kidding me? like any of this is new or unique to our modern age.
    Women have come a long way from how they got treated by our neanderthal ancestors, when kidnapping and raping a woman from another tribe was the only possible way for your tribe to survive. Humans are not the only species on the planet who rape, we are simply the species to name it and decide it is a horrific crime. Dolphins rape, gorillas rape. Look it up for yourself if you truly wish to be considered even for a moment to be well informed, the info is out there ripe for the taking.

    I am not defending sexual violence here, I am stating that it is not new. It is by no means a problem caused by our modern age.

    It is a problem caused by human biology clashing with human idealism. ie The ideal that while human sexuality (for both males and females) is a very powerful force it is possible to overcome it.
    One of the major problems in this discussion is that women believe that men should behave as women do in the realm of sexuality.
    The biological fact is that the sexual drive of a man is vastly different to that of a woman. A woman's biological drive tells her to seek the best male she can find to mate with, so that she can increase the chances of giving birth to strong and healthy offspring as well as having a mate that will protect and provide for her and the child while she is busy feeding and caring for that child.

    Men, on the other hand are biologically driven to mate with as many women as possible in order to insure both the survival of their own genes as well as their tribe / species. This can be seen within every species on the planet.
    This drive in men is much more urgent (I wont say stronger, just more incessant and always active) than it is for women. It is very difficult to ignore or overcome. Many men simply cannot manage to do it until age turns down the intensity.

    Perhaps rather than complain about it, women should seek to understand why the world is the way it is.
    Perhaps then a win-win solution would be more likely to be found.

    This is all very basic, and for some reason it is all completely ignored by almost every feminist I have ever come across.

    Bottom line, I agree that women deserve to be treated better than they currently are. I can do no more than treat the women in my life like human beings as they deserve, I cannot alone change more than that.

    I mention all of the above because you cannot truly solve a problem if you do not know the root of that problem.

    1. That men like to have sex often and with many may or may not be scientific fact (I've known men who chose one partner and wanted only her), but wanting lots of sexual partners isn't the same thing as doing everything in their power to objectify women by putting their bare asses on ads for cars or whatever. Men also rape little girls and even toddlers and infants a lot more than you may be aware--is that, too, simply about wanting lots of sexual partners? might be time to admit that 1)many men have quite a few issues with how they "understand" their sexual selves, especially as it relates to how they gain power and control and 2)women aren't "complaining"; they're trying to hold up a mirror to society and to men so that progress might be made. When was the last time you heard of a woman kidnapping three teenaged boys, chaining them in her basement, raping and beating them for a decade? Or women kidnapping men and slowly killing them, after lots of crazy sexually depraved activities? My guess is never, yet men kidnapping girls happens far too frequently and yet we somehow fail to see that men's sexuality is entwined with their emotionally distorted need for power. We're failing ourselves if we don't at least have the courage to see what's in the mirror and try to help. The truth is, if we help men, rape and sexualized murders can be prevented. Comments which suggest that "Women are just complaining about the fact that men like to have lots of sexual partners" don't help. Respect, though...wishing you nothing but the best.