Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Sexism: Apparently, Women Just Need to Stop Complaining

A recent article on Huffington Post addresses sexist advertisements. Specifically, it comments on SuitSupply’s latest ad campaign that features a man dressed in a smart looking suit surrounded by dancing women in tiny bikinis, with water joyously splashing over everyone. The article points out that this ad makes us question what the company is actually selling. Is it really suits? Or is it scantily clad women? Kind of hard to tell.

I would like to think that this type of ad is unsuccessful. I would like to think that men will see such an ad and think, “Wow, that doesn’t make any sense, and it also doesn’t make me want to buy that suit because obviously, I will not immediately be surrounded by attractive women in bikinis upon purchasing said suit.”

However, I am inclined to think the opposite. No matter what common sense says, men will probably see this ad and think “Wow, that’s a lot of attractive women, I should probably buy that suit.” Subconsciously, they’re equating wearing that suit with getting women. This is obviously a marketing tactic that works, because SuitSupply is by no means the only company to do it.

Clearly, these types of ads are sexist. They objectify women’s bodies. Women’s bodies do not need any more objectification.

But to my frustration, many of the comments on this article accused the author of finding things to complain about, or wondering why “showing attractive women is now sexist.” Another wondered why we don’t call it sexism when it is men’s bodies being shown.

First off: the reason we keep finding things to complain about is that there are still many, many things to complain about. We women are not being overly sensitive or overly dramatic when we demand that our bodies deserve to be respected and not thrown around as a generic tool for attracting male customers.

Second off: yes, “showing attractive women” is sexist when said attractive women’s bodies are being displayed as sexual objects and featured as nameless additions to male centerpieces. Yes, this a form of sexism called objectification. It emphasizes the notion that the body and sexuality of a woman is all she is good for, and that she only exists to complement men.

Last off: I do not believe that reverse sexism exists, just as I do not believe reverse racism exists (but I will not get into that in this post). I am aware that there are plenty of ads featuring shirtless men, clearly meant to allure women into buying clothing that – just like SuitSupply’s suits – has nothing to do with the ad. But here’s how it’s different: showing shirtless men is not connected to a broader systemic problem for men, like sexism or gender discrimination. Showing barely naked or naked women, however, is most definitely connected to the sexism and gender discrimination that has haunted females for centuries. Men have been the dominant sex, the one long considered to have greater intellectual capacity, greater physical strength, and just greater overall everything. Women, on the other hand, have traditionally been the weaker sex, considered only to be companions to men in procreation. Thus, the only thing they are good for is their capacity to reproduce, or their sexual capacity. This perspective is obviously not as prevalent in today’s society, but it has nevertheless spurred systemic discrimination and sexism against women, which have not disappeared by any means. Sexism is a systemic problem, and it is a systemic problem against women by men. Therefore, you can’t reverse it and say that sexism exists against the sex that has always done the dominating and discriminating, because it isn’t a systemic problem for that sex.

I am realizing that the comments were actually the most enlightening aspect of the article. They reminded me how far we still have to go in terms of gender perspectives and gender equality. Clearly, people are under the impression that gender issues no longer exist, and that women are just complaining about nothing. But this is the type of perspective that maintains gender inequality. Women: keep complaining. It is only by continuing to call out sexism and objectification that people will gradually recognize that there is a problem. At least, I hope they will.

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