Isms in ads is/are an issue that has/have irked me for many years. I understand that ads are supposed to catch your eye, because that’s what makes a product stick in your mind. I totally get that. But I am curious as to why a company would want a product to stick in someone’s mind as “WOW that company is super sexist/heterosexist/elitist and I never want to buy their products!” Let me throw out some examples (be aware that I put the links to the ads on here with extreme reluctance because I don’t want people to watch them, but want you to see what I’m talking about and what exactly irks me).
Because we don’t need to sell hair products like this. Seriously, when did the world decide that sex sells products that don’t have anything to do with sex. Shampooing hair should not lead to an orgasm, unless the individual has trichophilia. And while we’re talking about fetishes selling products, let’s also throw out this one about shoe fetishism. Or there’s this ad that objectifies men, or Tom Ford ads that objectify everyone (I am not providing a link because they are way beyond pushing the envelope and I already feel vile enough posting the rest of these).
Because we don’t need to sell cars like this. And may I also say that this commercial frightens me an exceptionally LOT because it glorifies 1) Lust, 2) Wrath, 3) Envy, 4) and Pride. It thumbs up treating women like objects, violence perpetrated by anger, the Want of Better Shit, and “yep I’m better than you.” Whaaaat.
Because we don’t need to sell cars like this, either. This is classism, white male privilege, and “the American Dream” that isn’t actually achievable for the majority of the American population. But no, you go ahead and sell your car like that, guys. Freedom. ‘Murica.
(There isn’t really an ad depicting this, but it should also be noted that companies like General Mills actually get backlash for making commercials like this [know why people were mad? Hint: skin color. I wish I was joking] or when Nabisco gets in trouble for making commercials like this [locate the problem this time? Hint: same-sex relationships. Again with the wishing I was joking]. People throw fits about Cheerios and Honey Maid graham crackers but don’t blink twice about SEXSEXSEX commercials? Seriously, that’s where we are right now?)
Those of you who know me enough to have suffered through my speech about how Unilever unnerves me with their two-facedness can skip this next part, ’cause that’s what this is. Unilever owns Dove, the company that’s been doing all of the ‘remarkable’ ’empowering’ “Real Beauty” ads recently. They’re great. Really. They’re all like, “Hey, the media is presenting terrible images of women and we’re all buying into it” and “Hey women, you’re beautiful despite what you see in yourself,” and that’s great, really. Those are really good messages. UNFORTUNATELY Unilever also owns Axe, one of the most remarkably sexist objectionist products that I know of. Axe both objectifies women as sex products, as bodies to be viewed, used, and discarded, and objectifies men as only ever wanting sex. A lot of Axe commercials get banned worldwide, which is great, but guys, they’re trying to sell their products this way. This is what they want to be known for as a company. Here’s one ad that was banned, as well as all of these (not for those who think that women shouldn’t be objects/sex shouldn’t sell products/men shouldn’t be seen as only desiring sex). Unilever is telling women that they are worth more than just their physical bodies, and that those bodies should be treated with care and they should see the beauty in themselves, but they are telling men that women are Things that can be manipulated, as Objects that can be lusted after, as Prizes to be won. They are telling men that they are allowed to give in to their animalistic instincts (I am NOT saying that men have animalistic instincts and that men are just looking for a thumbs-up to use/abuse women) and wantwantwantneedneedneedhavehavehavetaketaketake.
Last week a male went on a shooting rampage; while we can speculate whether or not he was mentally ill, whether or not he felt entitled, whether or not he was a narcissist, what we KNOW (because he told us through videos) is that he blamed women for rejecting his sexual advances. That’s why he was killing people. And people pitied him. That’s misogyny. That’s a view of women that starts with the belief that they are for the taking. That belief didn’t come from nowhere, that is something that is being taught–or at the very least is not being admonished–by society. He was completely responsible for his own actions, but society is responsible for helping create the thoughts behind those actions. Belief: Women have a responsibility to men to fulfill their sexual desires. That’s. So. Wrong. (I’m not going to talk right now about how misguided society is about what feminism is or how there’s an actual thing called “Men’s Rights Activists” and how terrifying it is to be a woman a lot of days, that’ll be another blog another day, but suffice it to say oh WOW life is scary.)
People pretend that media does not have an effect on anyone. If that was the case, companies would not spend their money making commercials or billboard/magazine/internet ads. WE ARE EFFECTED. WE ARE AFFECTED. We buy products because of advertising, because of what the company promises us about the product. Companies that sell products based on the isms that are rewarded by having their products sell will keep on selling products that way.
Think before you buy. Find out about companies, and think about the message that they are sending through their advertising (whether or not you think they’re aware of it). [This is also not a blog about buying natural, local products or avoiding certain chemicals or anything like that, but those are good things, too, and I do encourage you to do so!] I am an idealist. I believe we can change things through conversation. So let’s talk.