Sunday, February 24, 2008

Let's Tell Them: Sex Does Not Sell

I have been wanting to rant about those damn Tag/Axe commercials for AGES! I cannot stand those degrading, disgusting commercials. For a few years now, every Tag and Axe commercial depicts women as skinny, scantily clad, wild, animalistic, nymphomaniacs who cannot control their beast-like impulses when presented with a Tag or Axe scented man/boy. How such obviously disgusting and degrading images are allowed on television in the 21st century is beyond my understanding.

These commercials further this notion of woman as sexual being. They are telling men that this sexual animalistic woman is the type of woman they desire. This nymphomaniac is the woman they should want chasing after them. However, the most disturbing is that these commercials are saying that women are animals! Yes, we are animals. Not humans anymore, but animals. Roaring, chasing men as hunters chasing prey. This vision of sexuality honestly reminds me of Al-Ghazali's notion of female sexuality in which the woman is the hunter and the man the prey. These commercials, surprisingly, advocate Ghazali's idea of female sexuality. Though, I am sure this version of female sexuality is NOT exclusive to Ghazali. It is nonetheless extremely degrading and repulsive. It also extremely disrespectful.

However, this is also the culture in which women willing expose their breasts for the offensive and disgusting Girls Gone Wild videos. Ariel Levy so aptly calls this female chauvinism in her book Female Chauvinist Pigs. According to Levy the culture of pornography has provided the model of female sexuality today. Women believe that to be sexually alluring to men is a part of their sexuality. Women today confuse sexual power with power.

Ironically, as I write I am watching the show X-weighted, a reality show, in which one contestant tries to lose a certain amount of weight during the course of the show. The show I'm watching is following a 20 year old girl who aims to be able to wear a bikini in three months. At one point a "men's lifestyle" (is that what they call 'those' magazines now?) comes to ask her to be in the magazine once she has reached her goal. While explaining the process he tells her that her picture will appear at the back with the other girls they profile. According to this man they choose girls who are healthy, have a healthy lifestyle and diet, and take care of themselves. Meanwhile the example pictures they show are of half naked women, one with her bikini top coming off. Yes, that's healthy. And the contestant wants to model for them (though she doesn't think she will ever be that fit) because she thinks that will be a confidence booster. Again, this is another example of how such images are shown as the ones we as women should aspire to.

Just on a side note: Many women enjoy those Dove commercials. The Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty commercials have worked so well they've increased their sales. Although a cheap and sad ploy of using feminism to make money it has worked with women. However, other than the business aspect of it there is a very important warning that MUST go along with this campaign. Unilever is the company which makes Dove products. Unilever ALSO makes Axe products!!! Just so you know. Food for thought.


Broken Mystic said...

Those AXE commercials really do degrade and objectify women, and I'm glad to hear you speak up about that!

The stupid thing doesn't even work anyway. Haha, j/k!

If you watch a typical B-movie trailer, you will see clips of two things: sex and violence. That's what makes the entertainment industry go round. You will see those explosions, car chases, guys jumping off of a sky scrapers, bullets being fired, and then there's that infamous shot of a woman stripping off her blouse - these are like the guidelines for advertising a film or television program.

Comic books also objectify women in addition to film/television and magazines. The female characters always have exaggerated and "ideal" body shapes, but what's even worse is how some writers like FRANK MILLER depict their women as weak, stupid, and sluts. His latest Batman comic book series is really ridiculous and his female characters are really just sex objects. Comic book aficionados know that Miller is notorious for this and they all agree he lacks an understanding women. It would be nice to see female comic book artists and writers. On a side note, as an aspiring filmmaker, I intend to NOT objectify women at all.

And nooooo, don't watch reality shows! It's not "reality", it's simulated and piggy-backing on the success of other stupid shows that just want to waste our precious time here on Earth!!

Rant end.

Zeynab said...

BARF. I really hate those commercials. And Axe smells disgusting, like cheap and ugly all mixed into one.

@ Broken Mystic: Comic books are pretty bad. Even empowering figures like Catwoman, who is my favorite forever, have exaggeratedly small waists and huge breasts.

Broken Mystic said...

@ Zeynab: you should see/read how Frank Miller objectified Vicky Vale in the new Batman All-Stars comic. I read some responses from female readers and it was pretty funny how they criticized him.

Most comic book artists are guys so of course they're going to draw the women like that. I'm not stereotyping men, I'm just saying that's just how it is. Nowadays, characters like Catwoman, Elektra, and Wonder Woman are drawn in really erotic and even pornographic positions. They focus more on sex than storytelling!

Broken Mystic said...

Oh and just to add another point. Sometimes, even though it looks like female characters are empowered like Catwoman, they are really not empowered in my opinion. Those characters are drawn and written by the same male "artists" who objectify them.

For example, in this Batman All-Stars series by Frank Miller, there is a crime fighting female character named Black Canary. She looks empowered, but it's disgusting the way the writers/artists treat her. She sees a deranged Batman beat up a bunch of thugs and even burn some of them while laughing his head off (yeah, this version of Batman is messed up), and then she tells Batman he's so hot. She then kisses him, and then Batman slams her down to the ground and has sex with her. He says "we keep our masks on. It's better than way" The sex is not shown, but implied with a CRACK OF LIGHTNING in the panel. He just treats her like a vessel for his pleasure.. he just uses her and that's it. Really degrading. You should read it, I'm sure you both would be upset too.

Yeah I'm a nerd, I know.

Melinda said...

Have you seen the disgusting misogyny that is "Axe Lab"? The site shows the supposed effects of the product on different parts of the female body.

Farheen said...

Thanks for pointing that out Melinda. I haven't seen that product and when I tried to link from the feministing to it it wouldn't work for me. I may need to try later. But the description on feministing was enough to get the idea. How disgusting. I really did like the comments about the piece.

And love the term "axehole"