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A sexist advert...against men!

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Default profile picture Tolga Gucel


In France, in spite of the con­trols for eth­i­cal ad­ver­tis­ing, size zero women wear­ing only un­der­wear are all over our pub­lic spaces, keep­ing the male hor­mones on high alert. The ques­tion of men being ex­ploited as sex­ual ob­jects seems fairly ir­rel­e­vant. Not in Swe­den, how­ever, where no ad­ver­tis­ing in­equal­ity es­capes the pow­ers that be...

So are French ad­ver­tis­ers more per­verse and misog­y­nis­tic than the Swedes?

Dur­ing my daily cycle to work, I’m often con­fronted by women in their un­der­wear. This morn­ing, it was a lady at Car­refour. It’s bet­ter still when I take the metro. Cur­rently, its the on­line bank­ing com­pany ING dis­play­ing skin tight frenchies across the walls of the un­der­ground. The ad­ver­tis­ers cer­tainly do have wild imag­i­na­tions; the use of a woman wear­ing knick­ers to pro­mote a su­per­mar­ket or a bank is a bit out-there to say the least. Per­son­ally, I love it. Gets the hor­mones going be­fore the day has even begun.

‘An ob­ject of sex­ual de­sire’

Need­less to say then that I’m happy I don’t live in Swe­den where an ad­vert pro­mot­ing the tele­vi­sion op­er­a­tor ‘Boxer’ is going to be banned be­cause, would you be­lieve, it por­trays a male as ‘a purely sex­ual ob­ject which could be deemed of­fen­sive by the gen­eral male pop­u­la­tion’. Good old Swe­den where  all men and women are equal. In France, our walls are per­ma­nently plas­tered with naked ladies, but over there things ap­pear dif­fer­ent and even men can no longer be used as ob­jects of sex­ual de­sire to sell a prod­uct. In Eu­rope there are reg­u­la­tory or­ga­ni­za­tions which mon­i­tor the stan­dard of ad­ver­tis­ing in 22 of the 27 mem­ber states of the EU, such as the ARRP in France. Even if cer­tain fem­i­nist groups such as ‘les Chi­ennes de garde’, who feel that ‘the ad­ver­tis­ers en­cour­age the sex­ist clichés’, don’t like it, the human image is pro­tected by a self-dis­ci­plined eth­i­cal body which, in France, is made up of 22 legal ad­vi­sors. Each day, they eval­u­ate 140 ad­ver­tis­ing case stud­ies in gen­eral ac­cor­dance with the eth­i­cal char­ter which they them­selves have put to­gether, ‘whilst keep­ing in mind the views of the in­de­pen­dent as­so­ci­a­tions that make up the Joint Coun­cil for Ad­ver­tis­ing’, states the di­rec­tor for the ARPP, Stéphane Mar­tin.

Sex­ual equal­ity lessons at nurs­ery!

There are no fem­i­nist as­so­ci­a­tions or move­ments for LGBT rights pre­sent in the coun­cil, how­ever let’s ac­knowl­edge, like Stephan Mar­tin, that ‘there will al­ways be flaws’. He high­lighted that ‘nu­dity in it­self is not banned’, as if he had guessed that I was ob­sessed with beau­ti­ful women in sus­penders. ‘Some­times, a sim­ple pose can be per­ceived as being de­grad­ing to a human’. An­other im­por­tant fac­tor is that ‘the con­tent of the ad­vert must con­form to the prod­uct.’ The French fem­i­nist group ‘Les Chi­ennes de Garde’ claim that ‘ad­ver­tis­ers use scenes of a sex­ual or vi­o­lent na­ture to ad­ver­tise for al­most any prod­uct (yo­ghurts, cars etc.)’

In the event of any abuse of this con­for­mity, an ethics jury from the reg­u­la­tory or­gan­i­sa­tion can be freely hired by your av­er­age Joe. How­ever, to this day the reg­u­la­tory or­gan­i­sa­tion have never re­ceived a com­plaint re­gard­ing any ad­verts por­tray­ing men in a de­grad­ing way. There­fore, if nei­ther the law nor the or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­tect­ing the con­sumers are in ques­tion, only one thing can ex­plain the ten­dency to find naked women all over posters and billboards...​the ad­ver­tis­ers are sex­ual ma­ni­acs. In Swe­den they have found the so­lu­tion. From nurs­ery, chil­dren are ed­u­cated about equal­ity. No more dolls for girls and cars for boys, each child can de­velop their own per­son­al­ity in­de­pen­dently from gen­der stereo­types. Maybe we should send our ad­ver­tis­ers over there to learn a thing or two!

Translated from Suède : une publicité sexiste...contre les hommes !