Tag Archives: Women as objects

Penelope Cruz + french lingerie = ?

This video is a part of a new ad campaign for the upscale French lingerie company, Agent Provocateur, for their new L’Agent line. The company recruited the beautiful Penelope Cruz to direct this seductive short film, which features her real-life husband, Javier Bardem. In this video, the main male character walks through a house that is experiencing some sort of orgy. Throughout this 6 minute video, the fundamental heteronormative characteristics of advertisements and music videos are present. Besides the obvious fact that there are a myriad of beautiful, thin women hanging around the house in their lingerie, looking sexy and never speaking a word, other elements are also displayed. For example, at 1:32 the man is staring at three underwear-clad women dangling from gymnastics rings, as if they are on display at an exhibit – they are not presented at women but as mere objects to look at. Although there is diversity presented (one woman is black), these women are all thin, exhibiting the Bordo’s idea of the ideal slender female body. At 1:50 and 2:00, two girls in lingerie are eating cupcakes and licking icing off of each other in the kitchen, which depicts the typical male fantasy — girl on girl action. At 2:50, two practically naked girls are touching themselves in an outdoor shower, displaying the typical “wet” female body, another male fantasy. This scene in the house ends at 3:45, when the man in the video is practically hypnotized by a beautiful woman simply whipping her hair back and forth and pressing her breasts onto his face. Not once does she utter a word, but solely uses her body and sexuality. In the end, this whole erotic vision ends up literally being a man’s dream. The alpha male in the video turned out to be a construction worker (typical male role) who passed out on the job and fantasized this titillating orgy.

What do you all think about this ad campaign? It is obviously a very sexualized/aesthetically pleasing lingerie commercial, but does that make any of these problems okay? Is the objectification of women made better or worse because it was written and directed by a woman?


Ad critique: Common themes in SKYY vodka ad and music videos

Watching an advertisement for SKYY vodka, I noticed several elements of the standard music video. In the advertisement, women far outnumber men and women are heavily made up. Women’s bodies are fragmented and sexualized, with the camera frequently cutting to a close angle of women’s legs and hips. The setting is one typical in a music video: a hedonistic party scene, replete with alcohol and money. The main difference between this ad and a standard industry music video is the presence a product, SKYY vodka. The insertion of the product serves to further objectify women; shots of women’s body parts are interspersed with close ups of the SKYY bottle, suggesting a connection between women’s bodies and the product.

The similarities between the SKYY ad and standard music videos point to a common theme astutely summarized by Hesse-Biber: “Our society encourages women to see themselves as objects” (Hesse-Biber 62). The setting of the advertisement and the product itself (alcohol) support the truth of this statement; they tell women that their presence is only important as accessories to men in a drunken dance party, not in any type of substantial, intellectual setting.

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, and Recovery.” The Cult of Thinness. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. 61-82.

Tom Ford.

tom ford

This is a very risqué ad for Tom Ford’s men’s fragrance. As stated in Killing Us Softly 4, the objectification of women in advertisements is a way attracting attention to the product and instilling cultural ideals of masculinity and femininity in society. Tom Ford’s ad is sexualizing this woman’s body and using it to sell a men’s product, in addition to showing an unrealistic image of beauty. Her skin is youthful, glowing, and is hairless. She is “slender” with a toned body, a cultural female ideal. The fragrance bottle appears phallic, which is emphasized by the bottle’s convenient placement on the female body and helps to establish a masculine presence.

Who is the intended audience of this ad campaign? Tom Ford is featured in high fashion magazines such as Vogue, read by mostly upper class women. Despite the message that it gives to women, the ad’s content and sexual subtext make clear that this ad is for men; it is a fragrance which could help obtain female companionship and admiration. Men see the woman’s nudity and think desire and dominance. This advertisement has implicit sexual politics — against the submissive female nakedness, the bottle’s edges are pressing suggestively into her thighs, in addition to the phallic protrusion at the top of the bottle — all announcing a clear masculine presence.

The body fragmentation in this ad shows that women are nothing but sexualized bodies, inviting men to look at them (in addition to being used to sell the fragrance); by looking at someone solely as an object, you reduce their subjectivity. Overall, Tom Ford’s ad reinforces the general message about masculine dominance and assumed feminine submission.

Ad Critique Post – DiGiorno Pizza Commercial

The DiGiorno commercial ties very well with the main ideas discussed in Beauvior’s text titled The Second Sex: Introduction and Lorber’s text titled The Social Construction of Gender. In this commercial both genders are stereotyped into traditional gender roles as the men are seen relaxing outside while viewing sports and the woman is seen heading into her home with two large grocery bags. The men decide to order a pizza – but the main male character decides to call his spouse instead to demand her to make him a pizza the way he likes it. She replies, “you know I hate when you do this” as if this is an everyday occurrence between the two of them. He then demands her to make the pizza quickly.  This commercial resembles how Beauvior discusses gender: “man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him” (Beauvior 33). Her existence is dependent on serving men instead of being independent to do the task she enjoys. Lober’s belief that gender “creates the social difference that define woman and man” because people “learn what is expected…thus simultaneously construct and maintain the gender order” (Lorber 115). This construction is seen as the woman is expected to make the pizza for the men as she always does. After making the pizza the woman retaliates by turning the sprinkler on the three men. The men have no reaction and continue to watch sports, as if they are oblivious to her existence. Their actions demonstrate that men are seen as the supreme and the woman is only significant in service to men. Therefore, the woman is only defined according to the men’s terms.

Judith Lorber, “The Social Construction of Gender”, 1990.

De Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.”, 2003.

Spark Post: Women are decoration?

Gender and Society

[Photograph is a screenshot of a post Amy Sollitti’s tumblr dashboard, the URL of the blog who posted this has been blanked out.
Original screencapped tweet reads: “I have found, in my travels, that men’s razors men’s deodorant, and men’s watches are better than women’s”
Reply tweet reads: “Also their salaries.”
First comment reads: “Also their clothes (pockets, pockets, pockets)”
Second comment (bolded) reads:  “if stuff is made for men, it’s practical and helps them be human beings
if stuff is made for women, it’s pretty and helps them be decoration”
Third comment reads: “you forgot, the stuff made for women is also more expensive” ]


The original tweet and bold comments tie very well back to one of the main ideas of Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex: Introduction.”  Women are the “other.”  In the text, Beauvoir states that, when describing herself, “I must first of all say ‘I am a woman.'” This is because men are the default.  Men are the real human beings and women are the support staff. women are the ones that take what men give and then stand there, much as the comments in this article point out, for decoration.   Additionally, women are meant to pay the price in order to look the best that they can with as little function as possible.  Men are the default because they are the “breadwinners” and the “heads of the households”, etc.  Most of society, in practice, has not caught up to the fact that women have every need for affordable, practical clothing just as men do.



Kate Upton Washes the All-New Mercedes CLA…In Slow Motion

The Super Bowl seems to provide for a plethora of sexist and degrading commercials. This Mercedes-Benz commercial, which was shown during the 2013 Super Bowl, features supermodel Kate Upton “washing” the new Mercedes CLA in slow motion. The video features two of the modern male’s favorite objects: supermodels and cars.

The commercial clearly objectifies Upton as she struts around in slow motion, distracting the football players who are actually washing the car. The moral of this commercial seems to be that attractive women should use their looks and sex appeal to get men to do the work for them. The advertisement exemplifies one of Simone de Beauvoir’s definitions of women. Beauvoir writes, “And she is simply what man decrees; thus she is called ‘the sex,’ by which is meant that she appears essentially to the male as a sexual being. For him she is sex—absolute sex, no less.” (de Beauvoir, 33). In this case, Upton is portrayed as the “sexual being” to the target audience, which is young and presumably wealthy heterosexual men. By objectifying Upton, she essentially becomes the sub-human product that is being sold.

de Beauvoir, Simone. “2. The Second Sex: Introduction.” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Ed. McCann and Kim. New York: Routledge, 2003. 33. Print.

Stinky Sexism

“The world is facing one of the biggest crises in the history of history,” says an older man in a setting that resembles a TED Talk, “Girls are getting hotter and hotter.” Well, so much for educational.

This recent Axe commercial goes on to say that the increasing “hotness” of women has become a danger to men. By describing women as “hot,” an adjective that refers solely to physical characteristics, Axe is not only objectifying women to sell its product but also enforcing socially determined standards of beauty and femininity.

The commercial continues to show men in “danger,” getting hit by cars or falling over as an attractive woman walks by, implying that a woman’s appearance can cause a man to lose control of his actions. The acting here may be slapstick, but the message borders on victim blaming, a truly dangerous concept. What is most concerning about the commercial, however, is that it is telling the target audience, teenage boys, that the attitudes expressed here are acceptable and even expected.

While Axe clearly meant for this commercial to be funny, I can only describe it in the same way I describe the scent of their products: gross.