Let Us Keep On Dreaming of a Feminist World
by indigosun on February 27, 2017 - 3:57pm
The following advertisement illustrates a young girl walking at a train station, wearing a very revealing skirt with the words “My number” written behind and where the ends of the skirt are made of pieces of paper with phone numbers on them, presumedly her’s. Targeting a predominantly heterosexual male audience, “Ché Men’s Magazine”, the company which the advertisement is promoting, is a monthly Belgian magazine, publishing articles and ads on male interests. The corporation launched a new marketing campaign called “Let us keep on dreaming of a better world” featuring a series of advertisements, depicting men’s “fantasies”, displaying female bodies in a very problematic way, such as this one.
First of all, the angle from which the viewers are looking at the model emphasizes her body from the waist to the legs, especially the butt, and hides her face from us. The perspective from which the picture is taken also puts the viewer in a position as if they are trying to peak under the girl’s skirt. Not only does the hidden face dehumanizes and objectifies the girl, it also sends a message that women, in order to be considered attractive and beautiful, must conform to the following norms: you need to be skinny, have big boobs and a big butt, and finally, reveal as much skin as possible (notice how she isn’t even wearing underwear). This kind of sexualized projection of women reinforces the self-objectification in our culture, which consists of “body surveillance, internalization of cultural body standards and beliefs about the controllability of appearance” (Cortese 61). Ultimately, it also teaches women that they should want to be desired, thus, to “conceive themselves in terms of sexual attractiveness” and learn to say “ ‘I want to be wanted’ ” (Wade and Sharp 168).
Moreover, the advertisement sends a message to the male viewers that this kind of behaviour from women is normal, standardizing the idea that all women act this way. Despite the title of the campaign being “Let us keep dreaming about a better world”, which implies that the scenario depicted in the ad is fictional, it blurs the line between reality and fantasy, encouraging men to believe that a “better world” consists of young, half naked ladies giving out their numbers on the street. It leads men to think they are supposed to desire this and that this is what their “dreams” should consist of.
Another alarming aspect of this ad lies in the explicit message of the skirt: you don’t need to ask the girl for her number, just rip off a piece of her skirt. By cutting out the communication aspect in the act of asking for someone’s number, it reinforces women objectification: they are simply commodities to be used. Furthermore, it not only sends the false message of women being always available, of them actually wanting men to ask for their numbers, and of them desiring to be pursued, it also implies that young women like to fool around and exist for the sole purpose to satisfy mens’ desires. Finally, men are encouraged to believe that when women are dressed this way, it is considered as “provocative” and they are “asking for it”. This is where it gets very problematic: in the real world, when a woman says no, men will think that, deep inside, they mean to say yes, and so for them, no becomes a form a yes.
This advertisement is a matter of deep concern on how women are portrayed in the media.The first modification I would do is to reveal the woman’s face. It is important that the audience know she is not just some random girl, some interchangeable object, but rather a real person. The second thing I would change is the skirt with the phone numbers. It only objectifies even more w
One might argue in defence of this publicity that, because it is directed to a specific audience, heterosexual males, and the magazine is designed based on their interests, it is normal to find this kind of advertisement in them. I completely disagree with this justification, and here is why: I do not condemn men having interests in women; it is normal to be attracted to beauty and the opposite sex. However, what is not okay is that we are teaching these people unhealthy values and harmful views on women, which only reinforces gendered stereotypes. Considering the fact that this magazine is specifically directed to men, I believe the marketing agency should have the moral duty to sensitize even more their audience on this issue.
Finally, we should not forget that “advertising reflects the traditional beliefs…of our society and a culture based on commodities” (Cortese 89), thus, real change can only happen by challenging the current cultural status quo on genders.
1. Lisa Wade and Gwen Sharp, “Selling Sex,” in Susan Dente Ross and Paul Martin Lester (eds.) Images that Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011): 163-172
2. Anthony Cortese, “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising,” in Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, Third Edition (New York: Rowman&Littlefield Publishers, 2008): 57-89