Is the idea of “Sex Sells” an Excuse to Promote Sexual Assault?

Did you Know?

Over the course of one day people are exposed roughly 5,000 advertisements per day. In fact people see so many they often don’t really even think about what they are seeing after a certain point. So when they see advertisements that not only embrace sexual assault but even promote it people don’t necessarily realize how harmful and grotesque the ad actually was. Advertisers that use sexually explicit images and captions that represent sexual violence are normalizing and building a disturbing tolerance for rape.

Advertising Crossing the Line 

The idea that sex sells is one that has been around for decades. However the idea that sexual violence innuendoes sells is absolutely absurd. One out of every five women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives yet advertisers continue to still add humor and make light of the situation. Bloomingdales came out with a Christmas campaign telling their male clients to “spike their best friend’s eggnog” while Belvedere vodka used an image of a woman being physically restrained with the caption “unlike some people Belvedere always goes down smoothly”. Advertisements like these are desensitizing the public to sexual violence while at the same time showing them it is an okay way to treat women as long as they are using their product while doing so. Since humor is being used and the ads are made by reputable companies women, men, and children do not see red flags when viewing the ad but instead think of it as a normal and acceptable advertising tactic.

An advertisement created by Bloomingdales an upscale American department store

What Does This all Mean? 

Julia T. Wood discussed in Gendered Lives how the western culture has developed a tendency to “normalize” sexual violence. Through the exposure and language used in the media and through these advertisements people are developing a “tolerance” to gendered violence. When people start adding humor to it it begins to become something that seems unimportant, as though it is a common everyday thing. These ads are desensitizing people as well as encouraging them to take part in acts of sexual assault just  so the company can get their product noticed. This not only disrespects victims but also sets back all the efforts people have been making in trying to reduce gender violence. Whether tolerance is a conscious or a subconscious decision it does not have to be a permanent one, it is not too late to transform the way people are thinking about gender violence.

Budweiser’s bottle read “The perfect beer for removing no from your vocabulary for the night”

Bringing it all Together

People are making large movements in order to change the way society deals with sexual assault and how it is handled. This movement needs to expand into the advertising word. There are regulations for what can be said and seen on commercials, movies, television, so why not increase those on advertising? It is one thing for companies to want to use sex to sell their products it is a whole other thing to use sexual violence to sell products. It is important for people to not sit by and mindlessly let it happen. Everyone should attempt to critically look at the advertisements they are being exposed to and take a stand if they see a company wrongly promoting such serious acts.

If I take my Husband’s name does that make me a sell out?

There is no doubt that there is a list of social expectations that go along with getting married. It is expected that the couple moves in together (if they have not already), they are expected to go on a

The wedding day begins a set of changes and decisions in the couple’s life.

honeymoon, to create a new married life routine, and for the wife to change her name.  Ever since I was a little girl I have always had it in my head that I will one day have to change my name. Lately I have wondered if I have that idea in my head because it is something I want to do or something I think I have to do. Apparently I am not alone in these thoughts. For the first time since the 1970’s women are knocking down that expectation and keeping their maiden name. 

To Change or not to Change? 

Although women have many different reasons for not taking their new spouse’s name; professional life, their identity, they want to carry it on. That does not mean they are without pressure in their decision. When deciding what to do there is an intense pressure to follow societal norms and take their husbands name. They risk appearing defiant or unloving simply because they are choosing to stay with the name they were born with. Oddly enough they are not the only ones who feel pressure, women who have decided to change their name are now also facing a tough time.

It seems now that there is also a pressure to not take the name of one’s husband when getting married. Does choosing to follow that traditional step mean a woman is not a feminist? That she is allowing

Women now face the decision of whether or not to change their names.

herself to be oppressed?  The truth is that those women have just as many reasons to take their husband’s name as women who choose not to. And not one of the reasons has to be because that is what they as suppose to do as a woman. It could be because they view taking their husband’s name as a way to be joined as one, or because they want to share that name with their children one day, or even because they like the sound of it.

Digging a Little Deeper 

Standpoint Theory is explained in Gendered Lives by Julia T. Wood as certain groups developing different outlooks and understandings of social life due of their experiences as a member of a marginalized group. Women have a wider view on the situation of changing their name because of the experiences they have faced in that marginalized group. Therefore other people cannot understand the feeling of deciding to change their name like the women in the group.

What is the Correct Choice…?

Since every group in society is going to have different view points on this topic according to Standpoint Theory. It should be left to each individual woman to decide whether or not she would like to change her name once getting married because they are the only ones who have a clear understanding and view of the situation.  Therefore women no matter what they decide to do should be allowed to make that decision without intense societal pressure. Women should be able to keep their name or change their name without giving up any of their power or receiving criticism.


Ready Set Blog

My name is Kelsey and I am a senior Communication Studies major with a concentration in public relations. Throughout my time in college I was a member and served on the executive board for Alpha Phi Omega the national service fraternity, I was a Peer Mentor, and a Student Coordinator for the Office of First Year Experience and Family Programs. Although  I am not positive what the next year has in store for me I am excited to see where it takes me.

This was taken during Peer Mentor Summer Team 2014 when I got to work with incoming Communication Students.

Although I am young I have found that through working with the Office of First Year and Family Programs has taught me to become an expert in communicating with all different types of people. I use to assume that communicating meant talking. However I learned that the true key to communication is patients and the ability to be an active listener. Those two things will take you far in the world.

It is interesting to look back at things we discussed just three and a half years ago in classes when it came to gender as opposed to what we are discussing now. As a freshman in sociology we learned what society qualified as  acceptable for  each gender, it seemed to be a very cookie cutter model of how things are suppose to be. Now because of what is happening in the media and in the world around us the discussions we are having in  class have changed drastically. We are able to see society’s views on gender identity changing in front of our eyes. I look forward to continue learning how society looks at gender identity and how the views are changing.