Why are women still objects?

I’m sure that everyone here is familiar with the issue of the image of women in advertising. It’s not news: everyone knows it. I’m just really shocked that we still allow it to be like that. This video (some bits are in Italian, but there’s usually a translation) brought the problem back to my mind.


Some bits are really terrible: “Abbiamo le poppe migliori d’Italia” (alluding to breasts, which can be called the same as the back side of a ship); “Montami a costo zero” (“Ride me for free,” an innuendo using the idea of sex, that in Italian can be said as “assembling”); “We’ve chosen the best products for the World Cup,” with half-naked women in the background; and so on.

It’s obviously disgusting. We shouldn’t allow advertisers to create such images, as they become so powerful women themselves start to accept them. A recent scandal in Italy proves it: according to this article, one of the heads of an Italian air company, a woman, asked the flight attendants to diet in order to appear better-looking in front of the passengers. Apparently, even the uniform is going to change: the skirts will be shorter. Is this fair? How can a woman do this to herself?

Now, everyone’s happy with being sexy  and I’m not saying that everyone should wear what they want. I’m not even saying it’s not ok to see naked people in art or whatever. I can see that sex sells. It’s just that the context, the words make it problematic: even men’s taste should be against such innuendos, that plainly picture women as objects. And, in my view, no one should choose to be an object.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/saraswati3/ Stefaniya

    We are constantly bombarded with advertisements promoting makeup,hair products, and weight loss products. The average woman in this country is 140 lbs and 5’4”. The average supermodel is 5’11” and 115 lbs. Girls are starting to diet at the alarming age of 7, and the media fuels this by only showing very thin women in ad’s on T.V. and magazines. How can a child learn that intelligence, kindness–everything that makes us beautiful on the inside matters??? They don’t realize magazine covers are airbrushed or that being a size 2 is not the size most women in the United States are. Check out the Link about eating disorders in the Link page. There is also a WONDERFUL documentary called “America the beautiful” that is worth watching.

  • http://feministing.com/members/eugene/ Eugene

    “I can see that sex sells”

    That’s the bottom line in advertising. Advertisers will use anything to get the attention of their audience: implied sex, shocking visuals, any kind of fantasy, etc…

    Men are very visually oriented creatures, whether it’s nuture or nature it really doesn’t matter, it’s how men function. ( I’ve worked as a photographer/cinematographer for 20+ years, and the number of female photographers/cinematographers I’ve met in my career is perhaps 1 percent of the total. It’s slowly changing, but the pace is glacial. )

    even men’s taste should be against such innuendos, that plainly picture women as objects.

    Men are men, and often do not think or view the world as women do. If most men don’t perceive a problem with these images, then expect little to change in the future.

    As a man, the problem I occasionally have with the feminist perspective on the sexual object issue is that it often doesn’t allow for the possibility that some men might view women as simultaneously multifaceted: She’s smart / She’s talented / She’s gorgeous / She’s sexy / She’s social / She’s driven / She’s professional / Etc…

    All of these attributes going through a man’s mind simultaneously.

    Unfortunately with still images all you have is the visual aspect being presented, and if sex sells then advertisers will use it as much as possible.

    I think the only way things will change in the future is if more women get involved in the management and creative design of the advertising industry, so that the women depicted in these ads can be portrayed as multifaceted beings: Yes they’re sexy, but they’re also a lot more to them.

    • http://feministing.com/members/carolina/ Carolina Are

      Thank you for your comment :) I think it’s true, women should take a bigger part into advertising and these sort of things, in order to picture another point of view. And sex shouldn’t be a taboo, it’s fine to see it in advertisements. It’s just that I found many of the ads in that video quite disturbing! Referring to women as products is not nice, and some of the ads were rude, not just sexist.