It’s no question that we live in a capitalist society. This isn’t a bad thing. People create goods that we need and want. We buy them. This includes everything from clothing to food to iPhones to cars. Capitalism has made our world filled with plenty of terrific items. However, for capitalism to work, someone has to market those goods. People need to be introduced to new products, and people need to be encouraged to buy them.
Unfortunately, this is where we can find a problem. Many advertisements for products are simply harmless slogans. However, some take a rather hideous turn. There is no better example of this than female objectification in advertising. Are you unfamiliar with female objectification in advertising? If so, it doesn’t take long to learn how to recognize it. The video below provides plenty of examples. For example, how about an advertisement for Post-it notes? An ad shows a Post-it note stuck to a sleeping woman’s forehead to remind the man next to her of her name. How about an advertisement for an extra large sandwich from Burger King?
In the advertisement, a woman is shown with an open mouth near the sandwich. Above, large letters proclaim the sandwich will “blow” your mind. How about a montage of scantily clad women dressed to look like George Washington and his soldiers crossing the Delaware in the middle of winter? Also, the crossing only leads to a pick-up truck loaded with even more scantily clad women in skimpy swimsuits. How about several photos of women displays their butts in thongs near food? All of these are examples of female objectification in advertising.
It’s actually incredibly crazy to think about. If you read about these advertisements, you would be tempted to believe they were made up. Unfortunately, they were not. At least, according to the video that shows these and countless other advertisements like them, they are real. All of these advertisements add a woman to the advertisement to only serve as an object to entice buyers. Such advertisements have a consequence in the real world. This line of advertising leads people to believe that women are merely objects to be manipulated in real life.
Now, some might counter that men are also portrayed in advertising as objects. This is true. However, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, a researcher in the field of advertising and female objectification, says there is a difference. “The difference in how the bodies of men and women are portrayed is by the face-to-body proportions,” she says. “For men, a “face-ism” bias exists, whereby men’s heads and faces are shown in greater detail than they are for women.” She continues, “The corresponding bias for women is ‘body-ism’ — the focus is usually on women’s bodies or body parts.” In other words, men in advertisements have faces and personalities. They are meant to be real people. Women are only viewed as interchangeable body parts. These sexual images of women are degrading to women around the world, and they can be seen everywhere.
Thankfully, people are speaking up about this practice. The video below promotes the campaign #WomenNotObjects to raise awareness of female objectification. The campaign hopes to hold companies accountable for creating such advertisements. It also hope to encourage people to not purchase products advertised in such a degrading way. It’s true that men respond strongly to visual stimulation, and advertisements that play to this reality are more likely trigger views and encourage purchases. However, the question we need to ask is at what cost? Is it worth it to degrade women simply to sell a few more trucks or hamburgers? What do you think?