In an essay on The Huffington Post, writer Alex Leo notes that while this was a big year for women — the first serious female presidential candidate, the first predominately female state senate, the first female Top Chef — the advertising world has a lot of catching up to do. Ms. Leo names the five sexist trends in ads that just won't die:

Bondage, rape, "sluts," girl-on-girl action, and cum shots. And we're not talking about "edgy" brands like American Apparel, or specifically male-oriented products, like Axe body wash. The ads in question are from major companies: Remy Martin, Dolce & Gabbana, BMW, Nikon and L.A.M.B. We would add non-essential toplessness to the list. But for each ad, Leo explains why the trend won't die, despite "our cultural outrage and personal boredom."

The Remy Martin "bondage" ad is supposed to be "sexy" and make you want to drink liquor. Writes Leo: "These women are obviously putting on a show for an outsider, not having a passionate lesbian love affair for themselves. These types of ads gain traction in cultural periods of female advancement—capturing the fantasy of 'putting us back where we belong.'" The Dolce & Gabbana "rape" ad is "fashionable" because, Leo writes, "the world of high fashion has been the worst offender in the violence-as-art game." She adds: "Any woman that sees those shoes instead of that message deserves those shoes." Of the BMW ad, in which the reclining, baby-faced girl has a tagline, "you know you're not the first," Leo says: "This combination of the Madonna and the whore is ultimately a fantasy of degrading both body and mind. This girl is in no way a threat: she's young and won't say no, no one has to offer her anything, she is just there for your needs, just like a car." When it comes to girl-on-girl, Leo writes, "Oh my god is this played out." How true! And yet Nikon could not resist. As for the Gwen Stefani bukkake alert, well, what was she thinking? (And why are there so many semen-squirty ads?)


Out of all of these ads, the only one ever to be banned (in Spain) was the Dolce & Gabbana "gang rape." Why do mainstream brands greenlight these ads? And why do mainstream magazines publish them? Because "sex sells"? What a lame excuse. People love the Coca-Cola ad in which there's a miniature surreal world inside the vending machine, and there's no ejaculate in it. Could the real reason these sexist ads stick around be that consumers don't complain?

Five Sexist Trends the Advertising World Just Can't Shake [Huffington Post]
Earlier: Advertising Taking Cues From Porn: What Is The World Cumming To?
Bukkake Alert
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Sexist Advertising: Would Banning Or Boycotts Be More Effective?