#WomenNotObjects – A Step in the Right Direction

This video from Badger & Winters, an advertising agency in New York, has been circulating on social media lately and it’s been reigniting discussions around the portrayal of women in ads. Women being used as sexual objects isn’t anything new, but this is the first time an ad agency is taking this kind of public stance. “Socially conscious advertising” has been gaining traction over the last couple years so I’m not really surprised to see #WomenNotObjects taking off.

In general, I don’t have an issue with sex being used to sell products. Do I think it’s lazy? Yeah. Do I think it’s wrong? To a certain point (in particular, when adolescent girls are sexualized. It’s just so…creepy. ). I think over-sexualization isn’t only a women’s issue, however, men have become over-sexualized too in advertising. There is growing evidence that body insecurity is increasingly affecting men and boys. Sex and unrealistic body ideals may be effective to sell things, but it’s not the only way to do it. Hopefully other agencies and advertisers take a note from this video.

Source: http://www.marketingdive.com/news/ad-agency-vows-to-stop-creating-ads-that-objectify-women/412809/

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3 thoughts on “#WomenNotObjects – A Step in the Right Direction

  1. curiosetta says:

    What’s interesting is how oblivious most feminists (and to be fair most ordinary people too) are to the fact that they always define women as ‘acted upon’ objects…. the very crime they accuse The Patriarchy of committing 😉

    You did it twice, probably without even noticing it.

    > the portrayal of women in ads.

    > Women being used as sexual objects…

    This way of defining women as ‘acted upon’ objects does not allow for the possibility that some women might actually (strap yourself in, pour yourself a stiff drink) CHOOSE to appear in ads, CHOOSE to sexualise themselves, CHOOSE to work on these ‘objectifying’ ad campaigns as directors, photographers, stylists, make up artists, lighting directors, accountants or administration etc.

    The women in the video are also defining all women as ‘acted upon’ objects with no control over their own artistic expression, their careers, their economic activities etc. And they are appealing to MEN (rather than to women) to treat women differently, which further reinforces traditional women-as-passive-objects and men-as-active-agents gender roles.

    The women in the ad are objectifying themselves – as women – by appealing to men to treat them (as women) a certain way. They are playing the role of damsel in distress, and appealing for men to do the honourable (chivalrous) thing and rescue them from their emotional discomfort of having to see ‘dishonourable’ women posing half naked or in a sexually suggestive way. Because as we all know the sexual revolution has yet to hap – or wait, it DID happen already, didn’t it! … I almost forgot!…….. well I guess these women didn’t get the memo and are still stuck with a 1950’s view of women. Someone should tell them! 🙂

    If these women (in the video) viewed women as equal to men (as agents with free will, a mind of their own, personal responsibility etc) then they would be appealing to WOMEN to not pose seductively, to not become fashion models or at least not sexy fashion models (modelling a nice twin set and pearls would be OK I guess). But notice how they are not disapproving of these women who chose to appear in these ads, they are disapproving of men!

    This is like a bunch of guys complaining about ads which show sexy men with six packs and oiled pecks standing in their white boxer shorts and then complaining to WOMEN to stop this outrage! Or to stop enjoying looking at the half naked male form in a sexual way! We are your fathers, sons, brothers, CEOs! Don’t talk to me that way! Aaaaaaghhhh!

    Would you not find that kind of whiny, annoying and sexist? It’s one thing to complain about consumer advertising for not being as prim and proper as you would like it to be … but let’s not just blame one sex and pretend the other sex has no input whatsoever. Jeez whatever happened to gender equality?

    “He for she” happened. That’s what!

    Also on a more technical point these ads do not ‘objectify women’ they FEMINISE OBJECTS. The objects (the products) are being associated with femininity, and specifically with gorgeous, youthful, fit, happy, bouncy, fertile, life affirming, fun loving, happy femininity. The idea is create an association in the mind of the viewer between the product and femininity – which is universally seen as a positive wonderful thing. This bestows a positive value to the product. It is the same reason why the weather in adverts is usually bright and sunny. The clothes are colourful. And everyone is smiling. These are all generally considered positive life affirming things.

    A Porsche advert with a sexy woman leaning on the bonnet is not saying “this woman is like a car” (objectifying women). It is saying “this car is like a woman” (feminising an object).

    One last thing…. a lot of these adverts are supposed to be humorous. They are supposed to be politically incorrect. It’s kind of the whole point. They are being cheeky, like a cheeky salesman making politically incorrect jokes to passers by from his market stall. We don’t have markets in the street anymore. We have adverts on TV instead. But the tradition of cheeky humour as a part of a sale pitch continues….. that is until feminists and social justice warriors have their way. And they probably will. The usually destroy everything in their path.

    The women in the advert appear to have had their sense of humour surgically removed.

    • Veronica says:

      Hi there, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I really do appreciate it. There were a couple of things that stood out to me in your comment. First, you say that these women choose to be in these ads. You are absolutely correct, but what you fail to realize is that these models have little say in photo shoots and brand’s creative direction. Have you ever worked on a photo shoot? I have (you can see some of my styling work in my portfolio, and an image of me holding a light reflector in the slideshow) and I can tell you that models are pretty much treated as props. If they have an issue with the photo shoot, then tough cookies, because she/he can easily be replaced. So to say that the women in the video should be directing their issues towards the models would be useless because they’re not the ones in charge. The only way to make change is to go after the people making decisions, not models who often can’t afford the luxury of walking away from a job on “moral grounds.”

      Second, you mention that men do not complain about the way they are portrayed in advertising. I will have to disagree as there is growing discussion on men’s body image and the rise of body insecurity. I even put a link in my article about it 🙂 There are even men’s fashion brands that are tapping into the body acceptance movement, just Google Dressmann’s “Underwear for perfect men” ad. Although men may not be as vocal as women on over-sexualization and sexual objectification, it doesn’t make it right that they are starting to deal with issues that women have dealt with for decades. As a proud aunt to a 5 year old boy, I don’t ever want my nephew to grow up to feel like he’s not “man enough” because he doesn’t have washboard abs and not 6’3. Or that having a perfect bod is more important than being smart, kind, and generous.

      Third, you talk about feminizing an object vs objectifying women. The example that you gave can be argued either way in my opinion. It seems rather like the age old argument of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Objectification of a woman (or man) happens when that person is reduced to a single body part. In the video, there were examples of ads solely focused on women’s body parts (the naked torso with the cologne covering the vagina, and the Tom Ford ad only showing a purse in between a woman’s legs). When you show the product and just body parts, you’re reducing the value of that person to the same level as that product. When you hide someone’s face, you distance yourself from their humanity so it’s easier to treat them as an object. That’s why prisoners of war are often hooded.

      Fourth, you say that the women in the video appear to have had their humor surgically removed. Well dear friend, that is your opinion. You seem like an intelligent person so you probably already know that humor is subjective. You can ask 5 different people what they think the funniest movie is and you’ll get 5 different answers. Also, what is considered funny changes. Not even a century ago, black face used to be considered humorous. So to say that these women have no humor is quite dismissive and doesn’t allow for the fact that we all have different tastes in humor.

      Fifth, I’m not at all opposed to sex being used to sell products (I even say so in my article). It’s the over-sexualization that bothers me, especially of young girls, and how sex is used to sell products that have little relation to it. Like Burger King. Does showing a woman with her mouth wide open in the shape of an O, looking like she’s going to suck dick on a burger really going to help sell burgers? There are so many other emotions that can be used to sell products besides sex: humor, empathy, empowerment, curiosity, ambition, etc. Have you ever taken an advertising class? I’ve taken several when I was getting my B.A. in Mass Communications, and I’ve worked in marketing for over 4 years. I can tell you first hand that the most successful ad campaigns rarely use sex. For example, Apple’s “Think Different” is often used as a great example of advertising in textbooks – and that ad came out back in 1997. People still remember that ad today and it had nothing to do with sex.

      The reason why I posted this video is to have discussions (like the one we’re having) because we are what we consume – whether it’s food or images. Not every adolescent has parents/family to instill in them values and confidence to be who they are, so they resort to media to help them form their identity. And when you’re constantly bombarded by sex, you’re going to believe that having sexual appeal is the most important thing. But it isn’t.

      • curiosetta says:

        > ….. what you fail to realize is that these models have little say in photo shoots and brand’s creative direction.

        Perhaps, but as adult women they presumably know what advertising is right? 😉 They know what fashion or food adverts tend to be like and what being model generally entails right?

        Most people in most jobs have very little creative input, and the very definition of ‘job’ is to be objectified as a means to an end….. to mend pipes, dig coal out of the ground, play the double bass part in orchestral music, cut and dress hair, entertain old people on a cruise ship or sell hamburgers….. If professional models are objectified, then why not professional musicians, plumbers or miners also?

        > I can tell you that models are pretty much treated as props.

        So are factory workers, electricians, roofers, truck drivers, fishermen, window cleaners (I could go on!)…. Saying models (I assume you mean female models, right?) are treated as props is another example of objectifying women, surely? I mean, I would say models CHOOSE to be props. A model is essentially a clothes horse, or a make up canvass, or like you say a prop. Surely these women must know this before they decide to pursue a career in it? A receptionist is basically an answering machine. A carpenter is basically a lathe and a hammer. This is what a ‘trade’ or a ‘job’ means.

        I’m really struggling to understand what these women are actually being oppressed by and how they are being oppressed by it. All I see is a bunch of stuck up women ridiculing men;s sexuality, and women’s too (for they are essentially two halves of a whole). Can’t they just become nuns or something, and stop pissing on everyone else’s campfires?

        Modelling is one of the least shitty careers going, especially for women (not so much for the men). It is one of those careers people dream of doing. Model. Ballerina. Astronaut. Pilot. Fireman. Singer. etc

        > If they have an issue with the photo shoot, then tough cookies, because she/he can easily be replaced.

        Same as every other job then 🙂

        Again, how does this equate to the oppression or ‘objectification’ of women specifically?

        > So to say that the women in the video should be directing their issues towards the models would be useless because they’re not the ones in charge.

        Yes they are! They can choose to be plumbers if they prefer or work on a checkout or wait on tables or drive a bus or anything. If they chose to be models they can always refuse to join an agency they don’t like and presumably different agencies specialise in different types of modelling assignments … or they can just stipulate what they are willing to do. I still can’t see any oppression. I am really trying! 😉

        > The only way to make change is to go after the people making decisions, not models who often can’t afford the luxury of walking away from a job on “moral grounds.”

        What is immoral about any of the images in that video? The women never explained. The first image was of a woman preparing to eat a hot dog. The image and tag line made the association between the hot dog and a man’s penis and a blow job. So we have a woman about to enjoy munching on an edible penis. How is this objectifying women? Suppose it was a man about to gorge himself on a ham and cheese roll which the advert insinuated was like an edible vagina. Would that be an example of objectifying men?!!!! It makes no sense! LOL

        Sorry but the women in this advert are certifiably mentally ill. I am only half joking. If they genuinely believe what they are saying (rather than just trying to shame men as part of a power play) then they need therapy. They are doing to adverts what the Victorians did to the legs of tables (cover them in lace panties because they thought naked table legs were sexually explicit). These women are shaming men for completely imaginary crimes. They are as bad as some asshole you brush past in a doorway and he says “Yeah, you got a problem, wanna make something of it?” That is essentially what these women are doing. They are picking a fight, but passive-aggressivly by playing the victim… but victim of what?!

        > Second, you mention that men do not complain about the way they are portrayed in advertising. I will have to disagree as there is growing discussion on men’s body image and the rise of body insecurity.

        Men do not complain of sexual oppression by women. They might complain of culture in general (of an unhealthily appearance-obsessed culture). But that’s not the same thing as claiming men are oppressed, or objectified by women. But, sure, if some men complain like these women are complaining then they are also mentally ill…..

        > As a proud aunt to a 5 year old boy, I don’t ever want my nephew to grow up to feel like he’s not “man enough” because he doesn’t have washboard abs and not 6’3. Or that having a perfect bod is more important than being smart, kind, and generous.

        But these women aren’t complaining about women being held to unrealistic standards, they are complaining about the sexual objectification of women. What does that even mean? Is admiring a beautiful oak tree or a picture of an oak tree objectifying the tree? If so why is it bad?

        How should a man (or a woman) appreciate an image of a woman’s body in an acceptable, non ‘objectifying’ way? What is the ‘correct’ way for a man to appreciate an image of a female body? Or are these women saying it is wrong for men to find women’s bodies attractive full stop? Are these women defining heterosexuality and mammalian instincts as the oppression of women?!…. because that is what they seem to be implying.

        Are women allowed to flaunt their bodies? Are men allowed to appreciate women’s bodies? If so, what is the problem?

        > Objectification of a woman (or man) happens when that person is reduced to a single body part.

        So a vibrator is the literal sexual objectification of men. It is a disembodied penis. So why do feminists not condemn women who have these oppressive objects?

        > When you show the product and just body parts, you’re reducing the value of that person to the same level as that product.

        Says who?

        So let’s say the bag is worth $100. You think a person viewing an image of a woman’s legs standing over the bag will view the woman in the image as worth $100? Is that what you are claiming?!

        I’m sorry but neither you or the mad women in the advert have the authority to dictate what other people think and feel when they look at images of women or men. Most people are perfectly capable of seeing a pair of legs or a pair of tits or a hand or an ear and recognising they belong to a complete human being. To be incapable of viewing people as people (viewing people as objects) is a serious and extremely rare mental disorder. It is completely deranged to attempt to shame men by accusing them all of having this mental disorder. The lengths feminist will go to claim victimhood is now getting genuinely scary.

        > When you hide someone’s face, you distance yourself from their humanity so it’s easier to treat them as an object. That’s why prisoners of war are often hooded.

        Yes I agree with that, up to a point, but it is all context dependent. None of the images they presented depicted women in this way. A picture of a woman’s naked backside does not dehumanise her. If anything it makes her look even more human, by virtue of presenting her as vulnerable (naked), sexually alluring (objects are not sexual) and alive (flesh is living, objects are not). If she has underwear or beachwear that will also tell a story. Is it sexy lingerie, or sporty shorts or feisty denim or a cute plaid skirt……. all of this is the opposite of objectification. It reeks of personality, of character, of intent, or desire…. all traits which objects do not have.

        > Fourth, you say that the women in the video appear to have had their humor surgically removed. Well dear friend, that is your opinion.

        It is an argument, too. My argument is that most of these adverts are cheeky, humorous, and intended to be provocative. They are *knowingly* politically incorrect. The fact that these women take them so seriously proves they have no sense of humour.

        > you probably already know that humor is subjective…

        Not really. Humour has well established rules and structures, just like music or art. Cognitive dissonance, the subversion of moral values, or social norms, the breaking of taboos, the absurd, the double entendre … these are the kinds of humorous devices used by adverts. The women (or whoever came up with the concept for this advert) decided to shame men for the crime of having male sexuality and being attracted to women…. then they assembled a bunch of images and got a bunch of women to take a position of moral superiority over men but without ever explaining HOW or WHY men are supposedly at fault.

        > Not even a century ago, black face used to be considered humorous.

        And today the biggest comedy on TV is the Big Bang Theory, which is essentially black face but with nerds instead of blacks. The format is very much alive and well and (apparently) still hilarious.

        > So to say that these women have no humor is quite dismissive and doesn’t allow for the fact that we all have different tastes in humor.

        They don’t have to laugh at the adverts to understand that many of them are intended to be cheeky, humorous fun and deliberately politically incorrect…… and not the oppression of women by men.

        > It’s the over-sexualization that bothers me, especially of young girls,

        Which is almost entirely the responsibility of MOTHERS. It is not fathers who are buying their daughters all the Disney skank merchandise, arranging make up parties, taking them to see Rihanna concerts or buying them crop tops and mini skirts…. it is the mothers who are encouraging their daughters to dress and act this way. But feminists will never EVER hold mothers responsible for anything.

        It is also feminism which encouraged single mother households… and it is well established that without a father in the home young girls will hit puberty at an earlier age and become sexually active earlier too. The body senses the lack of a male protector and triggers the girl to seek out a mate as soon as possible to ensure there is a man around. Again, feminists never mention this. Single mother households are statistically disastrous for boys and girls, sending them into promiscuity, hyper sexuality, teenage pregnancy, gang culture, depression, criminality and other form of dysfunctional behaviour.

        In fact the women in this advert are exhibiting hyper sexual tendencies, by defining women as passive ‘acted upon’ sexualised objects and defining men as sexual predators. This sort of over sexed attitude is classic behaviour for someone who grew up in a single mother, feminist household.

        > and how sex is used to sell products that have little relation to it. Like Burger King. Does showing a woman with her mouth wide open in the shape of an O, looking like she’s going to suck dick on a burger really going to help sell burgers?

        Yes. Sex and eating are intimately linked. Both are sensual pleasures. Both satisfy a hunger which builds over time. Both are messy and fun. Both stink the house out! But seriously, both are heavily associated with smell. The smell of cooking causes uncontrollable salivation and production of stomach juices … and smelling a partner you are attracted to has similar effects in other areas. In fact ‘sexual attraction’ (AKA ‘chemistry’) is mostly to do with smell and pheromones.

        So yeah, food and sex are very similar activities.

        > I can tell you first hand that the most successful ad campaigns rarely use sex. For example, Apple’s “Think Different” is often used as a great example of advertising in textbooks – and that ad came out back in 1997. People still remember that ad today and it had nothing to do with sex.

        Most of the adverts in the video were to do with food or fashion…. both intimately associated with sex…. in a way that computers just aren’t.

        But the Apple advert still had an attractive woman (with no bra as I recall) representing ‘different’ compared to the men in rows representing ‘conformity’.

        > And when you’re constantly bombarded by sex, you’re going to believe that having sexual appeal is the most important thing. But it isn’t.

        The women in he advert – and feminists in general – are the ones bombarding us with sex. They are defining women as ‘acted upon’ sex objects with no agency – which is incredibly disempowering to women. And they are defining men’s healthy natural sexual attraction to women as harmful to women, which is a terrible message to give to men, especially young boys as they hit puberty.

        Society is getting sick to death of these professional victims turning perfectly innocuous things into ‘oppression of the wimmins’.

        Healthy non-deranged women love being sexy and alluring and love men appreciating their sexy feminine bodies. Half of these adverts are aimed at women, and will only appear in women’s magazines. The very first image that comes up from the google search is of a woman in heels with a man on all fours on a leash like a dog. Not surprisingly, they skipped over this image and many others which showed men’s naked body parts.

        It is women like this who go to such lengths to define men and women’s sexuality as abhorrent, oppressive, unnatural, harmful etc who have the problem. If they want to live like it is the Victorian era or the 1950’s that;s fine. But they need to stop trying to shame men and disempower women down to their level.

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