I was having dinner with my mother and my son at Applebee’s tonight. They always keep their televisions on sports channels, which I tend to half watch. Most of the time I see nothing worthy of pondering. Tonight, however, I was left with the bad taste of sexist microaggressions in my mouth.
Carl’s Junior ads have become increasingly sexist. The ad I viewed tonight was pretty well softcore pornography. It was shown on a station such as ESPN during prime time hours.
There are those who would ask me what the big deal is. The ad was suggestive, but the women weren’t actually naked.
The big deal has nothing to do with the degree of nudity involved. In the first place, it is offensive to have women put on display as sex objects in order to sell projects.
One might argue that while this may be true, there’s nothing we can do about it. Sex sells,and there are bigger problems in the world.
It is true that there are problems which are more directly violent and life-threatening. Also, the argument that “sex sells” in cases such as this really translates to misogyny sells. If they were truly promoting their product using “sex sells” as a guide for creating their advertisement, then both men and women wearing scanty clothing and behaving in a sexualized manner would appear in the ad.
Since men never appear in ads such as this one wearing skimpy clothes and behaving in a sexualized manner, the phrase “sex sells” is, in fact, bullshit. Misogyny sells, and its target audience is dudebros.
One might argue that it is mostly men who watch the sports channels, ergo, airing advertisements of this nature does no harm. It may be primarily men who view sports channels. However, advertising of this nature is not without harm.
In the setting I was in, a family restaurant, there will be young children. Little girls viewing advertisements such as this one are learning that this is how women are supposed to look and behave. They are learning that if they do not look like the sexy women in the advertisements they are not “real women.” They are learning that they need to behave in a submissive and sexy fashion in order for men to find them attractive.
Little boys are learning that women are supposed to behave in an overtly sexual manner to please men. They are learning that women are objects used to sell products. They are learning that women are things rather than people.
As well, the idea that sports are only “for the boys” is a harmful one. It creates a notion that women who enjoy sports, either as observers or as participants, don’t matter. Women, if they appear at all, are supposed to be eye candy. They are not to be taken seriously.
Some may say, well, that’s just the way it is. You can’t fight the tide.
Actually, you can. The advertisers want money. Don’t give them what they want. Don’t buy products from any company that uses misogyny to sell said products.
I’m of the opinion that if you can’t sell your product without using the “sex sells” excuse, your product must not be able to stand on its own merit. I don’t want it.
It actually is possible for women to be portrayed as sexy without demeaning them. Compare the problematic Carl’s Junior ad with one of my favorite music videos.
You can find the Carl’s Junior ad here. I am not embedding the ad as I do not want to increase their hits. I’ve used a Do Not Link URL.
Here is the music video.
Can the women portrayed in the video be perceived as sexy or appealing? Absolutely, but they are also not there only as “eye candy” for the male gaze. They are part of a story. Their presence may be representative of an idea, but they are autonomous beings. One may find them pleasing, but they are not there solely to be pleasing.
The men in the video can also be perceived as appealing and sexy.
This is the difference between media that has sexual appeal and media that appeals to sexist ideals in order to sell a product.
I don’t expect honesty from advertisers. However, if they were to be honest, they would have to admit that “sex” is not what they’re selling. They’re selling misogyny, using sexed-up, submissive women as objects to promote their products. It’s an outmoded idea that sends a terrible message. Consumers need to stop buying it.
~The Real Cie~