a bird and a bottle

Objectification and Advertising
February 1, 2007, 10:10 pm
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, Law School

I posted the other day about Mercedes’s ick-inducing new ad. The ad led to a heated exchange on my school’s Law Women listserve.


Next up for debate by email: the Komen Foundation ad that has garnered significant attention around the feminist blogosphere. Though I usually stay out of these e-debates (they tend to get pretty pointed when people can avoid face-to-face confrontation), I jumped in on this one. Here’s what I wrote.

Reactions/disagreements/comments/questions welcome in comments.

Some thoughts on why this ad has inspired so much anger/frustration:

1.) The headless/faceless/identity-less woman in the poster is not so important; it’s her breasts that we need to save (this is a criticism often leveled against the Komen Foundation. Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy explains what the fuss is about here).

2.) Rather than trying to fight against domestic violence, or at least not glorify it, the ad plays into it, using not only the “wife beater” tank top, but also violent words. The ad almost seems to take domestic violence as a given and figure, “hey we may as well use the fact that our culture is OK with violence against women to our advantage.” But that feels – at least to me – like the wrong approach. First, if we really want progress on breast cancer research, so that women like Molly Ivins don’t have to die, we need to respect the health and well-being women to whom all those breasts are attached. Fighting against DV is a start. Implicitly accepting domestic violence as a condition of our culture takes us many steps backwards.

3) There is definitely a trophy element to the ad, even though it’s not selling anything. At the bottom it says that once cancer (or the woman. Whatever) is “good and dead,” we will “put a pink ribbon on it.” It’s the cancer world equivalent of the Mission Accomplished banner or the S-Class car or the woman whose breasts are represented in the S-Class ad.

photo via teche.


1 Comment so far
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yeah, the whole thing looks like it belongs in Maxim. and i think it’s reasonable to expect more from breast cancer orgs than from crap-tastic men’s mags.

which is what makes me sad when very few of them point fingers at big polluters, the chemical industry, coal-fired power plants, etc, but talk endlessly about genetic pre-disposition.

…maybe i don’t have a good reason to expect better of them. bummer.

Comment by maxwell

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