Sex & Violence in Advertising

This story ran last week without photographs (sorry BB Mama). The photographs are imperative to the story, so I’m rerunning it. Visit Black Belt Mama’s Blog.

I need to first make something very clear. I’ve never burned a bra (they cost too much money to do that and I need mine); and I’ve never gone more than like two days without shaving my arm-pits (and that was when I had ACL surgery and wasn’t allowed to shower).

I took several women’s studies classes when I was at the University of Pittsburgh. I had some great ones (mostly the literature ones), and I had some not-so-great ones.

One of the not-so-great ones was led by a total whack job woman who was further encouraged in her wackiness by a chorus of crazy female students. I hated the class and felt like it was this giant complain-o-rama about men. I also got berated on a daily basis by a group full of women students lacking basic hygiene skills who told me that because I did my hair and put on make-up, I was catering to men and making myself a sex object.

They considered me putting cherry chap-stick on, catering to men and becoming a sex object. Whatever. I skipped a lot of that class. Talking back to the girl who snorts insults at you while she very publicly sucks her thumb doesn’t exactly feel fair in the grand scheme of things.

My Dad has always classified me as a “feminist” but he seriously has no idea how far off base he is in calling me a “feminist” considering some of my classmates in those classes.

I grew up swearing I would never have kids, and that I was going to be some high-powered lawyer and eat people alive who got in my way. I spent my college years in writing and communications classes. In one of my classes, I spent a semester researching how women were portrayed in advertising, particularly in men’s magazines. I found ads for watches that featured a lifeless woman on the ground with a man’s shadow standing above her. It was eye-opening and disturbing and I told anyone about it who would listen, but I wasn’t exactly the type to swear off lipstick, burn my bra, and start rowdy protests. I’m not that kind of girl.

If you ask Mr. BBM about me and my “feminist ways,” he’ll tell you I’m a “true feminist,” that I will fight for and speak up about women’s issues, but that I won’t be pigeon-holed into a liberal feminist agenda. Yes, I believe you can be a feminist and still be pro-life. I am.

I spent my years after college baffled at who I had become. Instead of going to law school, I got my Master’s in Education. Instead of being the high-powered single girl, I got married at the age of 23. And then, after only working in the real world for two years, I got pregnant and left my career (where I was making more than my husband) to stay at home full time and raise my daughter.

Fast forward to present time, where I am now staying at home raising two daughters, and teaching at the university level. Today, I had three young women do their final speech on how women are portrayed in the media. It was a brilliant speech. They divided it into three sections: women in the 50’s, women now, and the problems associated with the pressure society puts on women.

They talked about the typical 1950’s housewife. They discussed Marilyn Monroe and then they moved into a visual showing the difference between models back then and models now. Some of the pictures were disturbing. When the speech was finished, it was followed by a Q & A session. After listening to these girls, rattling off statistics and facts and hearing them pour their hearts and souls into their presentations, I was shocked to hear some of the questions coming from the audience.

A lot of the guys felt like they were under attack, despite the fact that the girls said their speech was not to blame any individual person or group, but rather to bring attention to the way society portrays women in the media. Even some of the girls got worked up in the audience. “Well, don’t these models have a choice to not be that thin? Well don’t they have a choice to not have eating disorders?”

I was shocked.

The presenters hadn’t done any blaming, only pointing out various facts and stats, and they were being eaten alive by an audience hungry to throw the blame back on them. I stepped in and redirected at times, but when all was said and done, I was sad and disappointed about it.

I’ve frequently heard women say that today’s women don’t care about women’s issues the way women did 30 years ago. I obviously had a couple students concerned about it enough to create an entire presentation on it. But the opposition they were met with was downright shocking.

Is there no one out there who cares that high fashion ads are using women in violent ways to get their point across?


The above ad is for a shoe by the way, not gang rape, in case you weren’t clear. Spain and Italy banned the ad saying it is no way was related to what they were trying to sell and that it was violent towards women.

And this one below? If you said shoes, and not stuffing some dead girl in the trunk of a car, well, then you would be right. You can read more about this ad here.


And then there’s this one. Obviously advertising a man’s suit. . .


Visit the site where I found this one for even more disturbing ads.

I think that we’ve become so used to seeing violence against people, and women in particular, that these images don’t have the same kinds of effects that they used to have on people. And personally, I think that’s a terrible shame.

As a Mom of two young girls who I don’t want ever exposed to this kind of stuff, I think it’s time that we started a little movement of our own. Companies who put out ads like this need to be contacted and told that their ads are disgusting, and that the public doesn’t want to see stuff like this. It’s simply not healthy.

To contact the US Dolce & Gabbana offices, you can write or phone here:

Dolce & Gabbana USA Inc.
148, Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10013

Loula is a company based in Melbourne, but you can email them at: Email:

To contact Duncan Quinn, you can write or call here:

8 Spring St.
NY, NY 10012
(212) 226-7030

According to a review I read online, the man himself actually mans the store quite often.

If you aren’t bothered by these ads, or if you’d like to see more of what I’m talking about and what my young women in class were talking about today, then watch this:

There any many sites out there drawing attention to this kind of garbage and taking a stand against it. All one needs to do is google “violent ads women” and you’ll find them no problem.

Will you join me in being outraged?

Will you join me in doing something about it?

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