This advertising slogan has been around for decades. Sexually themed imagery is used to sell everything from soap and cigarettes to beer and burgers. We would be hard pressed to flip through a magazine or watch a T.V. show without being subjected to this advertising tactic, but how often do we stop and ask ourselves, “Could this be societally problematic?”
Modern advertising, as a whole, is nothing shy of psychological warfare; an all-out assault on our minds, aimed to program desires and needs that did not previously exist. While hairless, muscular male bodies abound in adverts, the “sex-sells” method is primarily directed at heterosexual men, by way of hyper-sexualized imagery of women.
If we strip this concept down into basic terms, we see this: The female body, predominantly its boobs and butts, is an object by which to sell products, while perpetrating unrealistic and often unhealthy standards of beauty. This is but one of the many ways that men have been programmed to objectify women, and it requires women to be complicit in said programming.
Now here we are in 2019. Streaming services are taking more and more people away from conventional advert-laden T.V. and print publications reach far fewer eyes than ever before. Social media is the new advertising frontier, and on that frontier, advertising firms like we saw in “Mad Men” are the old, tired gunslingers and “influencers” are the new trailblazers.
Now, instead of T.V. and magazines, Instagram feeds are full of titillating images of half-naked female bodies; selling not only products, but also yoga, meditation, and inspirational words. These posts scream,
“These things are not worthy of your attention on their own, nor am I, so here is a tush-in-a-thong picture to grab your attention.”
Long ago, our culture told us a heinous lie that a woman’s greatest worth, her most valuable asset, is her sex-appeal.
And we bought it.
All of us.
Men and women alike.
I am not innocent. I have followed plenty of feeds because they offered a steady flow of sexually appealing pictures of women for me to admire. The truth is, it often led me to watching porn.
So I am not writing this from a high horse of judgement, but from a humble space of concern, as a man who is tired of the same old toxic song and dance of the male/female dynamic.
Sex still sells by objectifying the female form. Except now, not only are women complicit in it, they are spearheading the self-objectification. And men are still treating women as objects.
If we want the world to change, to be a place where women rightfully feel safe, respected and revered, then we must stop playing by the old rules that keep them bound in danger, disrespect, and degradation.
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