Tag Archives: Sexuality

Ad Critique: Gender Fabulous

Gender Fabulous

I was walking in San Francisco—one of America’s most progressive cities—just a few weeks ago. As I exited the subway in the Mission District, I was confronted with an advertisement encouraging sexual variety and liberation. My girlfriend wasn’t having any of it. She saw the ad as overwhelming and unnecessary, an in-your-face ploy by the city’s LGBTQ community to draw attention to itself. I challenged her on this point, the idea of being seen. I applaud the forward-thinking community’s adoption of an in-your-face tactic. Ads of this sort have a shock factor and they reaffirm that it’s cool to be on the cutting edge of gender and sexuality issues. In fact, it’s fabulous.

In a country in which the LGBTQ community is unfairly charged with proving its merits and that it deserves human rights—to the medical, political, and other communities—this ad is encouraging (Spade). It features an ambiguous human being, dressed half in “men’s” clothes and half in “women’s” clothes. The gender of the person is unidentifiable. Alongside the painting is the phrase “Gender Fabulous,” which is accompanied by a definition of the term “fabulous.” To give some context, this ad is situated amongst a number of other progressive pieces at the subway’s exit. Together, they send a message to visitors and the residents of San Francisco that variety in gender is better than the constricting nature of the current gender binary. Whereas the prevailing heteronormative system delimits what we can and cannot do based on an array of superficial factors, gender diversity facilitates the realization of our potential. I am thrilled to see San Francisco at the forefront of advancing these efforts.

Spade, Dean. “Resisting Medicine, Re/modeling Gender.” Berkeley Women’s Law Journal (2003): 15-37. Print.

Gender Fabulous. Advertisement. 13 Oct. 2013: n. pag. Print.

Ad Critique: I Take Off Most of my Clothes When I Eat Too

Carl’s Jr. is known for its risqué advertisements, featuring celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Kate Upton, and Jenny McCarthy (you’ll forget you’re eating a salad!) But the latest ad for the burger chain, featuring Miss Alabama Katherine Webb, has inspired a lot of questions as to whether Carl’s Jr. is actually selling burgers or simply advertising sex.

The advertisement is full of fragmentation: Miss Alabama is cut up into parts- legs, hands, breasts, and mouth. She is no longer a singular being, but rather a being only viewable because of specific parts she possesses. She has “turned herself into an object and most particularly an object of vision: a sight” (Berger 38).

She is no longer a model presenting a product, but has become the product herself- she is the real object of the viewer’s desire, not the hamburger. The advertisement is not for the Black Angus Steak and Bleu cheese, but the black leather and body parts of the woman. The presentation of the wet, clothes-less female body out does the juicy hamburger that she holds in her hands. The hamburger simply cannot compete with the sexuality that the woman exudes. She is more appealing to the viewer/customer (and if you have ever actually seen a Carl’s Jr. hamburger, you know they aren’t very appealing looking at all) and this works for the target audience, but is it really selling the food?

The ad would certainly make the male audience excited, but excited for the food… or sex?

Berger, John. “From Ways of Seeing.” Trans. Array The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.

What is consent? Not just yes but YES!

Sexual consent is a topic that touches most college students, considering the pervasiveness of sexual activity on campuses. However, consent is not easily defined or uniform in its nature, depending on the relationship and the sexual preferences of those engaged in sexual activity. What can be defined as consent? For example, consent between a couple who has been in a relationship for many years may be completely non-vocal, consisting of reading body language in a manner only achievable with time. However, in instances when the two people may be close to perfect strangers, non-vocal consent may be leaving much too much to the imagination; without knowing a person, how can you possible know what they want in bed, if anything at all? In “Beyond Yes or No: Consent as Sexual Process,” Rachel Kramer Bussel contends that with consent should come vocal communication, or else “we are simply guessing” (44) what the other person wants. Beyond the issues of legality, Bussel ultimately argues that communication is instrumental in having better sex, not just consensual sex. And don’t we all want to be having better sex? Instead of agreeing, we should be shouting YES! Here’s to completely, enthusiastically, physically and vocally consensual sex.


Works cited

Rachel Kramer Bussel. “Beyond Yes or No: Consent as Sexual Process.” From Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. Seal Press: New York, 2008.

Sexuality and Sexual Display: Reflecting on Miley Cyrus’ Behavior

As a fan of Miley Cyrus, I (unashamedly) follow her whereabouts on the tabloid site perezhilton.com. I recently came across this article, which included a conversation between TV personality Carson Daly and Perez Hilton discussing Cyrus’ “oversexualized image.” In fact, the newest issue of Rolling Stone features Cyrus in a pool, with slicked back hair and no clothes on. While Daley criticizes Rolling Stone for “rewarding” Cyrus’ (supposed) poor choices, Hilton argues that the magazine is simply trying to boost sales. I found Daley’s perspective on the subject quite problematic: since when is a display of sexuality synonymous with “streetwalker”? And more importantly, why is Cyrus’ recent behavior taken so offensively? Can society not handle a young woman in control of her body? Perhaps it relates back to Berger’s theory on nakedness v. nudity that he offers in “From Ways of Seeing”: “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself” (39). Placed in this context, it seems that society is unable to accept Cyrus for who she is–either because they do not believe in who she is, or because they do not want to.

Berger, John. “Ways of Seeing.” The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. Ed. Amelia Jones. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.

Hilton, Perez. “Did Miley Cyrus Deserve Her Rolling Stone Cover? Carson Daly and Perez Hilton Fight It Out On AMP!” Perezhilton.com. N.p., 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. <http://perezhilton.com/2013-09-24-miley-cyrus-rolling-stone-carson-daly-perez-hilton#sthash.qre4PyDC.dpbs&gt;.

For Whom Must We Act?

Although John Berger suggest that “men act and women appear,” I would like to refute this claim with evidence from Miley Cyrus’ recent stunt for the VMA’s. Miley danced before thousands of audience members and millions of TV viewers “twerking” to the beat of her own song and to the rhythm of Robin Thicke’s body. This, I would claim, was not Miley appearing before the crowd, but acting for the crowd, especially for the men. “No cultural phenomenon better expresses the current objectification of women, the power of celebrity and, ultimately, the pornification of society, than twerking” (Vine). I think this issue is especially concerning for the young female fans of Miley Cyrus. In her dance, Miley openly objectifies herself as a sex object through sexual dance moves and poses—sticking her tongue out and giving a “porn start wink” (Vine). Miley is acting for the attention of men. She wants men to notice her body and her sexuality. However, what she does not realize is that her young female fan base also notices the way in which she sexualizes her body, and sadly, those youth model that same behavior in hopes of receiving the same attention.

Berger, John. “From Ways of Seeing.” Trans. Array The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.

Vine, Sarah. “What this twerk tells us about the pornification of our children.” Daily Mail. 24 Sep 2013: n. page. Web. 24 Sep. 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2431009/SARAH-VINE-What-twerk-tells-pornification-children.html

Not so funny, vine…

I saw this vine today on “best of vines” and what really struck me was the disrespectful portrayal of gays and gay dates as such a humorous and negative idea, even in 7 seconds worth of video.  Even though this vine was meant to be a joke since the guy was most likely talking about a girl as his date, the dad’s comment and “HAHA” reaction about it possibly being another male made me realize how much it has become acceptable in our culture to just make fun of certain types of sexualities.  Did any of you feel this way also, or do you think the vine shouldn’t be taken too seriously?  Are we falling down a slippery slope when we hardly notice that we’re laughing at someone else’s sexual preference?

COD Fish Sandwich and Nina Agdal: A Love Story?

On the 2013 Super Bowl, Carl’s Jr. burger restaurant chain released a commercial to advertise their new non-fried fish sandwich. Instead of highlighting the attributes of the meal itself, the company decided to objectify women in order to increase sales.

The 1-minute long commercial consists of a model in a bathing suit at the beach, applying sun-tanning lotion all over her body while being extremely erotic in the process. Once her body is all oiled-up, she moves on to taking that first bite off the sandwich, followed by a close up of her licking her fingers.

It surprises me that even at a family targeted event such as the Superbowl, which was the third-most watched television event in American history on 2013, a commercial that should have no attachment to gender (considering we are talking about a sandwich) is so heavy on its sexual innuendo.

In Judith Lorber’s “The Social Construction of Gender,” she points out how “sexual feelings and desires and practices have been shaped by gendered norms and expectations.” This advertisement exemplifies this as the model is expected to be attractive and the male viewer is supposed to feel compelled to buy a burger because of his sexual desires of the model, even though there is no rational association between the taste of the burger and (the taste?) of Nina Agdal.

Judith Lorber, “The Social Construction of Gender” (1990)