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IMPLICIT ABUSE SEE HOW WOMEN ARE REPRESENTED IN COMMERCIALS

As you might know, over the years women have been generally been stereotyped to people who were less worth living the life they strived for, then men. Such cases can be observed in terms of education, family and basically in every aspect of life. Such kind of attitude externalises in commercials where women are often treated as sexual objects, for the sole purpose of profit. However, many of us do not even realize how far the creators of advertising can go with their unrealistic portrayals of women. That’s why Ania and Dima, two members of the media team of Minsk’17, created this project to show how out of touch with reality and inappropriate can advertising be.

On the day where the delegates took part in committee work we showed the delegates pictures of advertisements full of stereotypes and objectification of women, (but without any logos or descriptions!) and then asked them to express their thoughts and ideas on what those commercials were about and what was the story behind it. Now we would like to present the results of our work and reveal the truth about those commercials!

As you see, the first picture depicts a woman who is about to eat a pepper (well, we guess you have understood the implicit meaning of what she is actually doing). The delegates’ ideas were diverse: from quite obvious chili sauce and pepper to toothpaste and strong women. They probably wouldn’t even expect that the main objective of it was to advertise internet providers!

The picture with a half-naked sports women wasn’t easy for delegates too, most of theirs’ answers were about sports equipment and sports matches. We don’t blame them, it's hard to guess that this ad is actually about crisps. A complaint, to the Advertising Standards Authority, was made against the campaign featuring women in revealing tops playing rugby under straplines such as “Are you staring at my crisps?” and “Tackle these”. The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) director called on the campaign, which cost €500,000, to be withdrawn immediately saying “it is wholly unacceptable that a corporation should not only condone these harmful attitudes but indeed use them as leverage to promote a product”.

The third picture had a direct hint to what it was about - for the belarusian delegates, the ABC logo is something very common, so all the answers were quite close to the truth: ketchup, sauce, juice, yogurt, though the correct answer was horseradish. The advertisement says that every housewife should have horseradish at home, thus making a clear statement on the place of a woman in the house. This is not the first time when ABC uses a woman body to advertise its product, and the commercial was severely criticized for abusive context.

The forth picture was a real conundrum for participants and nobody was able to guess correct answer. Delegates suggested things connected to what they saw in the picture, so the answers concerned inter alia chicken, underwear, a cooker, gloves, an oven, but also oil and gym. Let’s face up to the fact that connecting women in kitchen with ANTIPERSPIRANT is not very apparent. The kitchen background is designed to look like it is from the 1940-1950’s, suggesting the woman to be a ‘sexy’ housewife. The slogan states “Can she make you lose control?” with a “48 hours antiperspirant” underneath. The advertisement was made to look like you are witnessing this event from the man’s point of view and suggests that you should go and have sex with this woman. Deprived from good taste, isn’t it?

The last picture was definitely the most controversial one. Creators did not beat around the bush - the naked woman was the only object on the picture. Guessing the correct answer when you see this for the first time is quite impossible. Delegates, probably remembering the ads they had seen before, associated this photo with personal hygiene: shampoo, body scrub, cream mousse for body, cream for depilation. Of course, all of them were wrong. but how could we expect correct answers, when this ad relates to... herbicides? This advertisement from Poland was supposed to shock and pay attention, especially (probably) to farmers and, of course, it was to influence the positive sale of the product. We blurred the main catchword of the ad: "Protect your beetroot". The comment is unnecessary here.

Let's answer the question: what went wrong? The most accurate answer will probably be the admission that the group of advertising recipients has been incorrectly defined (the photo of a naked young girl indicates that they are not the elderly gentlemen on tractors). The sloppy ad slogan combined with a naked woman and beet created an explosive mixture of profanity that exploded for many months but only on the Internet. It is safe to say that this advertisement was by no means prepared by a professional advertising agency.

All the above photographs only show that the problem is serious and should not be trivialized - in the modern world, stereotypical and old-fashioned perception of women still appear. All this leads to a situation in which the generation for the next generation is brought up to look at the world and the women who live in it, only from the point of view of men. The result is that only men seem to be seen as fulfilling, and complete human beings, and women are not. Women are objectified - that is, they are denied their agency, people only perceive the body, and their consciousness, their thoughts and feelings are completely overlooked. And because the value of a woman is usually defined by her appearance, women must be consistent with the valid canon of beauty. That is: large breasts, long legs, very slim body. This can lead to complexes and mental problems among young girls because they perceive themselves as worse, because they don’t look like those in advertisements

This topic of resolving the problem needs to be taken, for abuse has never been a solution to problems. It became extremely sensitive in the world, more and more people start to notice it and we consider it an important step on the way to a change. That’s why we are extremely happy that people from the FEMM committee devoted so much time to tackle this issue and we hope more people will follow in their footsteps. Finally, we would like to express our deep gratitude to all participants who helped us to implement the project!

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