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Exploitative Advertising

3 Nov
Sexualization of women makes fantastic advertising.

Because, you know, Mystique from the live-action X-men films wasn't sexual enough.

Screen capture of an advertisement for a MMORPG at warofdragons.com, picturing a thin, white, blond woman in a sexually suggestive pose. Bare-breasted except for something I know only to describe as gold-plated nipple shields conforming to the shape of the lower half of the breast (and which, based on my understanding of the human form, wouldn’t actually cover the nipples – yay Photoshop?), she also displays what appears to be a henna tattoo on the remainder of her torso, Celtic knot-style and suggestively pointing towards her groin. The groin itself is covered loosely by a cloth.

I’m not sure how this ad could be seen as anything other than exploitative. Using a sexual image of a woman to gain pageviews and site usage strikes me as really despicable, and I’m very much disappointed with the site that is being paid for displaying the ad. I’m not linking the site (I do my damnedest to avoid ever giving them pageviews and linkbacks – not exclusively for this ad, mind you), but it should be stated that this ad is being displayed on a large feminist blog. Isn’t feminism the movement that usually opposes objectification of women? And now our sites are being colonized by this sexist advertising, using women like a fisher uses bait. I don’t know [site’s] ad policy, but I think it’s fair to say that it needs a rather significant revision – why isn’t there some oversight to ensure that their readers aren’t subjected to images reminiscent of the chain-mail bikini?

Oglers

14 Oct

So, there’s this fairly popular TV show called Nip/Tuck. As near as I can gather without having to watch an episode or do any research (in other words, my expert opinion is based on advertisements I saw 3-4 years ago with much less feminist theory informing my media consumption), it’s about a bunch of male plastic surgeons and the shallow, sex-driven women who are the surgeons’ patients.

This understanding of the show does not in any way clash with the following advertisement, seen on Youtube as I was looking up links of David Tennant-y goodness.

niptuck

For those who may not be able to see the image, it is a picture of a mostly naked woman in a highly sexualized pose. She is wearing tight white underpants, and corset piercings running down from the nape of her neck to the top of her underwear. The string lacing is tied in a bow at her iliac, and the remainder of the thread wraps around her hand in a loosely immobilizing position while a man in semi-recumbent pose pulls it, as if controlling her by using reins. Both he and another man are staring at the woman in what strikes me to be a somewhat predatory fashion. It’s also worth noting that all three are white and conventionally attractive.

This is fairly classic male gaze operation (obligatory link to Dinosaur Comics). The men, both dressed in business attire (slacks and jacket) are ogling the woman, mostly nude and in a position suggestive of performance for the male gaze – right hand behind head, which widens the chest and shoulders, lifting the breasts and making them more prominent (while we the viewer don’t see the woman’s breasts, the shot makes it clear that the men in the picture do, so the movement breasts undergo in this position is significant), upper left arm held close to the body while the forearm stretches towards the semi-recumbent man, hips tilted at an angle uncomfortable to maintain for long periods of time, yet often used in what I’ve seen of mainstream porn photoshoots. The mens’ clothing indicates a certain social stature – rich, powerful, able to objectify and control women.

In certain ways, the ad reminds me of Le dejeuner sur l’herbes, a 19th century Manet (a precursor to impressionism) painting (description by Emile Zola at the Wikipedia article cited above).

The woman is nude among well-dressed men. It is worth noting that the woman is not sexualized, just naked. While there is, in this society, an automatic sexualization of nudity, Manet does not further objectify the woman. The men are also not staring at the woman in the skeevy, predatory way of the Nip/Tuck advertisement – instead, the woman is staring at the viewer (rare in compositions: usually, subjects of the composition are shown from a slight angle, so that the viewer is allowed to be a passive observer, rather than treated as an active participant (which is why it’s so jarring when actors look directly into the camera)).

There are also sharp contrasts to the famous Yoko Ono/John Lennon photo by Annie Liebovitz, where Lennon appears naked, cuddled around a fully clothed Ono.

Both John and Yoko look so vulnerable, so tender here that it’s quite touching. I don’t feel that the photo would be as powerful if Yoko weren’t dressed – the photo feels so intimate, like we’ve been allowed a gentle glimpse into the lives of two who loved each other so deeply it’s almost surreal, and as thought this love allows for a form of sexuality. It’s so drastically different from the sexuality of the Nip/Tuck ad – Nip/Tuck allows only for sexual enjoyment of the female form, while Liebovitz’ piece shows that nudity needn’t be about the male gaze, that it can give the viewer a powerfully intimate image of a couple where the woman is not treated as an object.

Humorless Feminist at the Movies

30 Sep

From the director of Something’s Gotta Give, the 1998 Lindsay Lohan Parent Trap, Father of the Bride I, II and the atrocious Mel Gibson film What Women Want, comes a new romantic comedy starring one of my favorite actors, Meryl Streep. Streep stars opposite Alec Baldwin (the ex-husband) and Steve Martin (random architect – the trailer indicates we don’t need to care about this loser character – he’s just there as a plot device, showing how sad and lonely Meryl Streep’s character is without a man), both of whose characters are vying for the affections of Jane, Streep’s character.

Here’s a link to the trailer for It’s Complicated, which I can’t embed. That’s okay, I’ll just discuss the parts I find relevant.

“Jo, you are so lucky Jerry is dead. You don’t have to bump into him!” – Jane

So, there’s no such thing as a congenial breakup. Either you’re sickeningly in love (as Jane is shown falling for Jake, Baldwin’s character in the trailer), or you can’t stand the sight of each other (the initial reaction Jane shows to Jake). This polarity is totally realistic, and I have no qualms whatsoever endorsing this dualistic point of view. None. Got it? </sarcasm>

And now, a scene with the architect, Adam:

“One tiny note: no ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ things.” – Jane

“And you don’t think in the future, you might want a ‘His?'” – Adam

“Oh my god, now we’re talking code about my life!” – Jane

Great stuff, folks. I mean, without this dialogue, how else would we know how empty Jane’s life is without a…a…man? Remember this now, readers with girly-parts (hoo-has and other accessories, or whatever): your lives don’t amount to a hill of beans in this fucking world if there isn’t a man in your life, using your spare sink and the second towel-rack.

*cut to Jane and Adam laughing, Jake staring in window stalker-like and mock-laughing with them*

Stalking is not sexy. It’s not funny or hot, and it doesn’t lead to perfect romance stories. It’s fucking creepy, and glorifying it in a romantic comedy screws up social notions about acceptable behavior even more. Stalking is an unacceptable behavior, that makes the culture in which we live even more viable for abusers and rapists (as if they need help), and playing it up for teh LOLs is repre-fucking-hensible. Well, now that I’ve got that off my chest, shall we continue unloading the bullshit from this trailer?

“OMG, I thought he’d never leave.” Jake, to Jane, about Adam

Alec Baldwin just used the Internet colloquialism “OMG” like a real word. I’m going to go cry now. (Okay, so that’s not a real objection. I’m just feeling ranty.)

“I’ve never really known how to live without you.” Jake, to Jane.

Warning! Warning! Unhealthy relationship patterns at twelve o’clock! Mayday!

But seriously though, that level of dependency is not something that should happen in healthy romantic relationships. It shows a lack of maturity and self-sufficiency that is highly dangerous to both parties, and reflects the character of Jane as a mother-figure to Jake, rather than a romantic figure. And considering that he’s pursuing her as a romantic figure, the mother-child dynamic that Jake’s neediness brings into the relationship is pretty squicky.

“I’m having an affair…with…a married man.” Jane, to female friends

“You’re not saying?!” Female friend

“Yes, I am!” Jane

*exhuberant, elated screaming from group of friends*

“Turns out, I’m a bit of a slut!” Jane

This part of the trailer leaves a bad taste in my mouth (not to imply that the rest of the trailer doesn’t). Having sex makes you dirty? I do wish someone had told me, because I’ve been having pretty regular sex lately and I’m sure I’m just covered in the sex-filth now. *goes, scours skin* Okay, I’m back. Don’t know if I got it all off me, but that’s the best I can do for now. Anyway, having sex with a married man (Jake left her for the cliched younger woman) is slutty. Because “stealing a man” from someone else is super-evil. It’s, like, being Yoko Ono evil (so evil, you work for peace. Muahaha, my evil plan that we all stop killing each other is succeeding!). Because he was hers first. A person is not fucking property. You shouldn’t own them, sell them, manipulate them like puppets. If a person wants to have sex, it’s not fucking deviant! Sex is not deviant, and placing it as deviant turns sex and romance and all that shit into a fucking game, turns love into a catfight (see also Melissa McEwan). Which is bullshit. The biggest problem I have with the scenario of Jane having sex with Jake is that Jake’s wife probably doesn’t know and could get hurt (but the audience isn’t supposed to care about her, because Jake’s wife is flatter than Adam (Steve Martin’s character, since I haven’t mentioned him in half a post)). So, yeah. Jane is such a slut. For being female. And daring to have sex.

“What about the fact that I’m now the other woman? I’m the one we hate!” – Jane

“He was yours first.” – Jane’s female friend, consolingly

Same shit as above, different candy coating.

Ugh. If I watch this trailer any more, my head might explode, so I’ll wrap up here. Women who have sex are slutty, men who stalk are hawt, architects are nerdy losers, men are the most important things (there’s that word again) in a woman’s girl’s life, and if you don’t buy a ticket to this movie you’re going to die alone with a nonillion cats. And they lived happily ever after! *swoon*

Seen*

15 May

Before I begin this post, some friendly advice. Do not try to balance on unstable things. If you disregard that little nugget o’ wisdom, I recommend not placing the corner of a desk where, should the inevitable happen and you fall, your ear will break the fall for you. ‘Cause that would fucking hurt. And there would probably be blood. Not that I know from experience or anything.

Oh, right! I was writing a post! I was driving along the freeway today, when I saw a billboard that so infuriated me I had to flip it off (which may not be the wisest of moves, given that other drivers tend to take offense when one raises the middle finger in their direction, whether or not it is intended for them). Dear reader, here is a Photoshopped facsimile (no camera while driving) of the billboard that delivered such an irritable and irresponsible response:

Would you like some recreation with your misogyny?

Would you like some recreation with your misogyny?

Nice rack. And other accessories.

Nice RACK, AND OTHER ACCESSORIES?!? *spews outrage*

Because breasts are detachable from the woman. Because women are there to be objectified. Because breasts make you look better. They coordinate with your outfit. They supplement your attractiveness. They make you more fuckable.

Remember, always. You, breasted ones, are members of the sex class – the group of people that owes beauty to the rest of society. And you’d damn well better be able to take a compliment, you bitchy harpy prude, or we can’t speak for how well you’ll manage out in the real world when you can’t even deal with commendation. After all, we were just trying to be nice. We respect you, and we respect the effort you put into your appearance each and every second you’re visible to another person. For the rest of your life. What do you mean, that sounds like a death sentence?

*Title and inspiration for this post taken from the Shakesville series of the same name.

Hair

4 Apr

H/T and inspiration for this post to Amanda Fucking Palmer and Shakesville.

As I’ve implied here before, I don’t shave. I haven’t owned a razor in over a year, and I don’t plan to own one ever again. Among other reasons, I stopped depilating because I was incredibly tired of the way advertising campaigns hit me over the head with my unwomanlyness if I didn’t painstakingly remove every single hair from my body. I realized that I wouldn’t become less of a woman if I stopped paying these companies copious amounts of money to lower my appreciation for the natural state of my body. Plus, I was curious what my armpit hair looked like grown out – as soon as I began growing it at 11-12, my mom freaked out and insisted I shave (which now seems odd, as she has always been fairly lax about her leg hair). So, now I don’t wear sleeveless shirts without feeling like I’m telling the status quo to go fuck itself (whether the status quo is listening is another matter entirely).

When I see advertisements like this, I wish the status quo would listen to me.

And if that was too subtle for you, here’s another ad from the same campaign.

This shit – this culturally enforced hairlessness in the name of “freeing your skin” – makes me want to scream and cry and pull my hair out (oh, teh irony). Why the fuck isn’t it okay for anybody to do what they like to their own body? Maybe it’s what Crowfoot said (couldn’t find a permalink: if in Linux/Windows, CTRL-F “Crowfoot”) in response to Eloriane and my conversation about including all stories in the stories that are told about menstruation:

After all, we are a culture that has a long history of being disgusted
with our physical bodies, thinking them as base and dirty, indicative
of the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden. And it’s probably likely
that the idea of the body as base heavily feeds into misogyny: bodies
are base, icky and leaky and women’s bodies are the basest, ickiest and
leakiest of all!

That probably has a lot to do with it. I’m not really in the mood to get into the history of shaving or body politics right now, but suffice it to say that bodies, particularly women’s bodies, have been policed and censored because they fall too close to the natural form.

Run in terror, for the hairy-bodied women are coming for you! They will devour your soul, because they can! They follow Chef Cthulhudee’s recipe for spaghetti and soulballs (the secret – a dash of Atheist salt)!

Mua-ha-ha! Behold, my weapons of fear and manipulation!

Mua-ha-ha! Behold, my weapons of fear and manipulation!