Sexism is Not Exciting

Something that we’ve known for ages and ages and ages is that women in advertising are more often than not portrayed sexually and are portrayed as objects. Sex sells ya know? People have talked about how it contributes to rape culture and how sexist it is, they’ve attacked everything from Abercrombie and Fitch to American Apparel, and yet I’m still left with one gigantic question:

Why do advertisers keep doing the same thing over and over again, and then labeling it as edgy or raw or cutting edge? Some of the big goals of advertising are to be fresh, to do the unexpected, to stand out from the crowd. For some reason these rules get tossed out the window when it comes to sexism and the objectification of women. The same tactics of using women as objects or goals in order to sell products has been around for decades, and let’s be perfectly honest here: it’s getting boring. We’ve seen it before. We’ve seen it in every damn mask it could possibly take. We’ve seen it sideways and upside down. A fair number of consumers have made it clear that they think it’s bullshit. There is absolutely nothing raw or edgy about it, as it’s using the same tired stereotypes, images, and constructs that have been around since we’ve had the means to document them. I for one would be happy if I never saw a commercial with a woman trying to make sexy lips ever again.

It makes absolutely no sense in terms of traditional marketing knowledge to keep using this. I suppose you could take the approach that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and argue that it’s been an effective marketing strategy for years and years. It’s the best way to make people insecure and thus WANT more to bring them a better sense of security. It’s the best way to bring in men who are really the most important consumers after all. It seems to me that the continue reliance of the advertising industry on sad stereotypes is a sign of a really broken capitalistic system that will go to any lengths to make money and to keep those in power at the top. It’s stagnating, and if I have any hope for all the new forms of media it would be that they could break the stranglehold of these old, tired media on our lives.

What do you think? Why does marketing keep using the same images over and over?

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