Sex in Ads
By Anam Ansari

May 14, 2010
In the past my inspiration to write articles has emerged from injustice around the world. But today, as I was happily strolling down the perfume section in Macy’s, admiring the lavish shopping mall as a frighteningly quirky consumer, I noticed two things: firstly, the perfume section has a very nice fragrance, and secondly, the advertisements for all of the perfumes looked incredibly similar. I was utterly shocked by many things. At once, I thought to myself, “Wow! What a lack of creativity.” Then I thought that maybe the different perfume companies have this secret pact that they must advertise their product in similar ways. Then I told myself to snap back to reality and stop forming nonsensical conspiracy theories which I would never be able to defend in a thousand years... maybe in a million years, but I doubt that I will be alive to do so then.
Now you must be wondering, what the heck was so darn similar about all these advertisements? They all had incredibly beautiful women; most of them had a man accompanying the woman, and in a little corner of the advertisement you saw the perfume bottle and its name. At first I was quite angry at myself for never realizing that ALL perfume ads sell sex, not perfumes. Not to mention, how ridiculously they degrade not only women, but human intellect. Some women do not even wear any piece of clothing in these ads. Now for all those people who will argue, “That’s called women empowerment. They can use their bodies however they want bla bla bla...” Well, I got news for you people: find a stronger argument because that is definitely not strong enough. I’ll tell you what I think nude women plastered across all ads makes me believe as a young woman, still trying to discover myself: my body can be used to sell objects and I am a commodity in this material world, and therefore, I should strive to respect myself only if I look as skinny and pretty as the models I see in these amazingly realistic advertisements. For those of you who did not catch my sarcasm, that is obviously not what I personally believe, but with “role models” such as Lady Gaga, I might as well.
Okay, so I have made my point. Selling products through sex is offensive to me because I think that using nude women to do so contradicts the Western approach to the women’s movement. For example, we want to stop sexual abuse against women, but how do we expect that when all we see are nude women selling perfumes and make up, which makes people believe that we are commodities as well? Sure, we may have given women the right to vote, but on another level we are beginning to use women as a commodity by indirectly showing them as sexual objects in ads. Now, you may think that I am accusing such models of being a simple tool in this crazy practice of selling sex through ads, and many of the readers may find this offensive. In that case, I am sincerely apologetic that such readers do not recognize that the media shows sex as something which is not a private matter anymore; rather it is something which is used to sell products to the consumerist-world, by literally making the statement that having such products makes you a SEXier person, therefore giving you the superpower to sexually attract everyone around you. Now, how the hell does that make sense? Yeah, it does not.
So what to do? Sure, advertisements all around us may be promoting sex as a commodity, but we are tiny ants in front of these multinational corporations who create such ads. However, we must never forget that we, the tiny fighter-ants, are what provide the billions of dollars to such companies by buying products which are advertised in a sexual manner. The realistic side tells me that we cannot boycott such products, because that would mean not buying anything (literally! Once I saw a vacuum ad using sex to sell the vacuum! Crazy, I know!). What we can do is become aware of such ads when we see one... that should not be difficult since they are everywhere. Once we become aware, we can discuss how messed up and incredibly demeaning these ads are, and eventually we won’t even want to buy such products. My sixth sense tells me that these companies will realize that the public is not their guinea pig and has some sense in them, and eventually they will stop using sex and women as a commodity. I know my theory may seem unrealistic, but originally nobody supported Galileo’s heliocentric view of the world either! Preach on: where there’s a will there’s a way!

1. The advertisements in magazines, on television, at shopping malls, local billboards – they are everywhere.
2. Any person’s common sense, which is not so common in consumers.

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