In past Vintage Sexism posts, we’ve examined ways ads and commercials target women to sell everything from coffee to kitchen appliances to laundry detergent. Lately, though, I can’t help but notice what seems like an ever-increasing number of ads that use scantily clad or seductively dressed women as a means of marketing products to men. I won’t name names here, but these ads and commercials make me wonder: Is this tactic new?
As you can infer from the images above, objectifying women’s bodies as a way to sell products to men is a practice that has been around for quite some time. The ad at top left is perhaps the most startlingly candid. Below a picture of an almost-nude woman posed in a submissive position, the sales pitch reads, “If you guys don’t buy these new Drummond sweaters, we’ll go right back to male models.” Though the ads that follow aren’t so brazenly verbal about their marketing strategy, they are still very obviously employing the “male gaze.” At top right, a cigarette ad shows a woman with a seductive expression directed toward the man who blows smoke into her face, and proclaims, “Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere.”
In the top left photo above, an airline ad depicts a sexualized flight attendant. “Think of her as your mother,” the ad reads, implying that she is there to take care of all of a man’s needs. The center ad for shoes (yes, shoes) uses a topless woman lying on the ground and encourages men to “Keep her where she belongs.” Last but not least, the ad at bottom right for Dacron slacks shows a man surrounded by a bevy of beautiful, hypersexualized women, and boasts, “No matter how strenuous the action,” your pants “are pressed for life.”
What do you think, ModReaders? Are there any commercials on television or ads in magazines today that remind you of these?