It is no doubt that when you turn on your TV to watch a show, or even flip through the channels to see what’s going on in the news, an ad or commercial will most likely pop up. It’s not an innocent one either. It’s sexual and demeaning, or it can sometimes be outright racist and blunt in its message and it's not always on television, the same can be seen in magazines as well. What’s concerning is that everyone can see these ads. They’re everywhere. Kids as young as 10 can watch these sexually undignified commercials and have a certain intuitive as they grow older. Such portrayals can come off as "normal" when children grow up because the image has already been burned into their minds at such an innocent age. In Shafeeq Sadiq’s article, “Racism and Sexism in Advertising” upon explaining this logic, it’s clear that the idea of "sex sells" is applicable, however, there are many individuals who understand why anyone would pose a half-naked woman next to a hamburger, and other explicit pictures which have absolutely nothing to do with the food itself. It’s a form of commercializing which is well thought out to only degrade and over-sexualize a specific gender for the purpose of monetary gain. In this case, women and other minorities. When was the last time anyone saw an outstandingly attractive, blonde, and well-built guy on any food commercial posing an unnatural pose next to something meant to nourish the body?
Sexism is a worldwide issue, sure, but how does putting it on television make things any better? It doesn’t actually. In fact, it only doubles the problems women face in society already. It’s only a surprise why no one has questioned the obvious: Why is it always women shown this way on TV, in magazines, in public advertisements, etc? Why don’t you ever see a man shown with barely any clothes on trying to “sell” whatever the company is trying to sell with the help of a partially nude man? Some might say, "Oh well the actress or model shown wanted to, it's her choice so let her do what she wants" etc etc. Sure, she wanted to pose partially nude and yes, if she wants to, she can. However, if you gave her a less demeaning role instead, I'm quite positive that she'd take part in it regardless, and if not, the many hundreds of other women in the audition room would be more than happy to take her seat. At the end of the day, you, the model, get paid right?
The thing is, men also receive a certain amount of sexism and harassment as well; however, women face it more and you can't deny that. Some may even come to the conclusion that the reason men don’t get harassed, or at least, not that we hear of as often, could be because they probably don’t report it as often as women do. That’s actually not the case because there are men who do get harassed and report that they’ve been violated. Some, however, do keep silent as some women do as well for various reasons. This is an issue that cannot be stressed anymore. In fact, women even face sexual harassment on transit buses, on subways, sometimes by the taxi/uber driver, etc. It even happens to women who are fully dressed with nothing showing but the hands, neck, and face/hair, underage children, and even older women in their 60s and above. This shows you that sometimes it's not even about what women wear but how some men think it is ok to do what they want because "they can." So with that being said, how many times has anyone heard of a guy crying out that he’s been groped on the bus? Right, no one has. All of this has to originate from somewhere first, as do all other things. In this case it is commercialization not just on TV, but it can be found literally anywhere.
Ah, Dolce and Gabbana...
If the women we see in commercials today had been portrayed less harshly, then some of the boys and men whom, at first, would’ve assumed that their actions were appropriate, would understand that it’s not ok to harass anyone at any given moment because they’d seen an inglorious ad. Men are visual aren't they? So wouldn't it make sense to portray commercial visuals as less aggressive? It seems like common sense, but the problem lies here: not everyone is going to understand a simple concept either due to ignorance or lack of capability to respect their counterparts. Just look at the picture displayed above of a Dolce & Gabbana ad where I guess they were selling perfume with this as their message? And upon reading the bottom disgustingly shocking message: She was asking for it. What?! I don't even know anymore... How does perfume equate with rape? Because if you couldn't tell, the picture above is sort of depicting a rape scene with a woman being held down with other men surrounding her because I guess she either smelled good or was wearing revealing clothes or a combination of both? Also, this isn't the only degrading ad that exists, there's many many more. Possibly hundreds more. There's even a Tom Ford ad which was meant to sell a new perfume from his line, but the best and "creative" way that they thought to sell that was to put the perfume bottle between a model's breasts and review it as "ok, looks good" and then carelessly toss it out for the world to see. It makes you ask, couldn't they have done it in a better, classier, less sexual, less demeaning way? Like, is that really necessary? There's a difference with being sexual as a person and being sexualized. There's nothing wrong with being sexual since humans are sexual beings—it's just how we are, but being portrayed as a sexual object is another thing. It's when things needs to come to a stop. Also, just so you all don’t get the wrong impression, I'm no feminist at all by any means and do not hate men at all. In fact, I LOVE men. Men are also beautiful and deserve love and respect and other good things in life from women as do women from men. However, the men I'm speaking about are the ones who commit heinous criminal acts and speak badly of women and think it is acceptable to do so are the ones we all need to discipline and do something about, not the decent, respectful, moral, good ones.
Golly, Mis' Maria
Sexism and oversexualization may be an issue so substantial, however, racism equals if not overlaps this common matter that we have to see in society. There are a countless number of ads which portray a certain minority in such a way that if anyone were to act it out in public, they’d be shunned and disgraced. Still, this begs the question, how is it any better or acceptable to show any of this through the television screen?
It’s understandable that there are certain jokes people accompany their friends where a couple of light racist remarks are made here and there and everyone laughs, instead of frowning. That form of entertainment between a shared group of friends is harmless and “ok,” but then, there are people, especially in high school who might get mocked because their accent is too thick, or too "outrageous," or not normal for where they live. This is where the line gets drawn as to what types of jokes are appropriate and at what time. Someone of a particular background acting out a stereotypical scheme on television, or through ads does not make it acceptable because there will be people who will find it offensive and insulting, and while others may not. However, that doesn’t mean we should all take it lightly. It's only insensitive and intolerable under any circumstances.
Throughout our lives, we see innumerable advertisements coming from all categories and most of them, we subconsciously ignore or do not care about generally. Some which we all know can be difficult to just look away from because of their passive aggressive nature, and disrespect for human dignity and value. It’s important to understand that, if this type of publicity will cause people to get in trouble, what makes it ok to be on television?
Shafeeq Sadiq's article can be found here.