Dmitriy T.M., Jody B., Chad W., and Jeff H. sent in these anti-smoking posters that are part of Les Droits des Non-Fumeurs anti-smoking campaign in France. The posters clearly associate cigarettes as penises and smoking as being forced to give an older man oral sex. I think it’s probably safe for a lot of workplaces (it doesn’t show an actual penis; it’s a cigarette where a penis would be, no nudity), but just to be extra safe I’m putting it after the jump.

The slogan says “Smoking means being a slave to tobacco.” The PSAs have generated quite a bit of controversy in France. Some argue they’re pointlessly sensationalist, that they trivialize sexual abuse, or that young people are more likely to laugh at them than to pay any attention to the intended message. Not surprisingly, tobacco sellers are unhappy about being associated with pedophilia (via abcnews).

What strikes me is the representation of the penis as dangerous and harmful. It is powerful, threatening, a weapon to be used against others. And to the degree that we think of the penis as a potential weapon, what does that mean for those who are on the receiving end, who provide oral or other sexual contact? The use (in the U.S.) of the phrase “sucks,” a reference to oral sex, as a general put-down or indication that something is unpleasant or disappointing pretty clearly shows that providing oral sex to men is viewed as degrading and demeaning.

Also see our posts about PSA imagery that presents sex as threatening or sexual assault as the punishment for inappropriate behaviors; for instance, a lot of campaigns that encourage condom use compare penises to guns. So does this one. This anti-drunk driving poster threatens young people with the idea of prison rape. During World War II the U.S. government personified sexually transmitted infections as women who prey on “the young, the brave, the strong.” The Montana Meth Project warns that using meth will turn you into a $15 prostitute and/or lead to prison rape.

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