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Sex on the brain? July 21, 2005

Posted by Winter in media.

I was walking home yesterday from university when I was confronted with a huge picture of a woman in a yellow bikini, from the waist up. The huge slogan tastefully plastered across her chest was ‘NEED A SQUEESE?’ oh, and she was all wet because it’s summer I suppose and that’s what women do, walk around in wet bikinis and drink low calorie soft drinks. I know your thinking, so what’s so uncommon about that? Unfortunately that’s the basis of my point, it’s really common. It’s so common that it wasn’t until I reached my home ten minutes later that I considered there to be anything wrong with it at all.

Through my recent research I’ve became aware with how alarmingly little control we actually have over what we do as humans in the world, many of our actions and responses are automatic, i.e. not within our conscious control. What is perhaps worrying then is that many of these automatic responses are highly influenced be our environment. So what’s my point? The media, and advertising especially is saturated with highly sexualised images of everyone. It’s becoming so common that there are very few products that haven’t, in some tenuous way been linked to sex or sexuality. Implicitly, it seems the message is that if you’re not gagging to nip round the corner, slip of your knickers and have a quick rut in your ally of choice, there is something wrong with you.

All this is pretty difficult for adults to deal with as I don’t know anyone who has the energy to consciously consider, engage with and challenge every single advert that they see. All the while these adverts effectively reinforce women’s role and self concept as a sex object, not a person in the minds of men and women alike. But what is more worrying is that a large majority of these pictures are quite available to teenagers and children. Adolescence can be pretty tough as it is in terms of getting comfortable with your own sexuality with out their unconscious screaming at them to jump into the sack with who ever, as soon as the opportunity comes along, because if you believed the media, everybody’s doing it. What I’m trying to say is that even women who are well informed and can spot visual sexism from a mile of are probably still influenced by it.

I’m very anti censorship, and I’m not in anyway advocating the wholesale removal of any advert showing a bare ankle but living in a society that values free speech and civil liberties comes with responsibilities, as well as rights. Two days ago Winter Woods raised the issue of playboy stationary aimed at young girls and it highlighted to me the importance of actually doing something if you see something that offends you. I think we really need to start challenging the excessive use of highly sexualised images in advertising, which means being more alert to the content of advertising. These fabulous websites have made a start on this issue already, take a look and see what you think.



1. Naiades - July 25, 2005

I think that’s part of the problem, people have become concerned about questioning and challenging adverts and campains that they don’t like, partly because they don’t want to be labelled a fuddy duddy old prude. this possibly stems from the saturation of sexualised images in the medai, i’ts very difficult to know what is ‘normal,’ or even have time to develope a sense about ones own sexuality. it’s really quite circular, i know.

Where does one begin to takle the problem in a way that can be seen to be moving forwards, not back to the Mary Whitehouse agenda.

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