Sex is not that much of a taboo topic, it’s always talked about casually and many people are very open about it. Why not? It’s a part of life, everyone has thought about it and people enjoy it. Obviously it’s not always socially accepted to be so open about it, especially in certain cultures where you won’t even think about mentioning the ‘S word’.
But do our views completely change when we see it being advertised and promoted publicly on posters, ad campaigns etc? Not so casual then is it. When we see an innuendo there’s two common reactions: shock and laughter, but by now I’m sure we’re all used to seeing a sexually driven advert, campaign, poster etc. But notice how it’s always the same types of campaigns and editorials where its one or a few women and loads of men in one. There’s two arguments with this, first one is apposing it and that it’s all done for the male gaze and the women are just objects for men’s pleasure. This is clearly shown in the controversial images from Steven Meisel ‘Dogging’ for V Magazine V56 WINTER 08/09, in the image below – you can’t even see the woman’s face, just her body. Clearly presenting her as a sexual object.
American Apparel are definitely the worst for objectifying women, to the point where it’s actually cringeworthy:
The ‘Now Open’ one isn’t the most shocking thing, its just the title that makes it controversial. The spread legs one is the definition of objectification and for the ‘School’s Out’ one my reaction was ‘???’ just pure question marks. Firstly the girl looks about 10 and the title makes it 10x worse, there are clearly no innocent intentions behind blatantly sexualising a young girl.
The other argument is that women should be allowed to enjoy sex as much as men do. If they want to be presented sexually in a campaign/advert then why not? It’s fine if a man is topless but god forbid if a woman is. But there’s a big difference between objectification and sexual liberation.
I guess it all depends on your perspective. It’s an easy tactic for brands to turn to if they want more attention towards them or potential consumers. “Lets add naked people here, this will definitely bring interest”. It’s done all the time and it’s a bit boring now. Does sex really sell?