Max shoes advertises its sturdy laces with sexualized and racialized violence in this Swiss ad:
NEW! Penny R. sent in these ads for Bisazza tiles. They were banned in England, but she saw them in a waiting room in the U.S. in a magazine called Wallpaper:Both via Copyranter (here and here).
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Some people enjoy bondage, and she has a stereotypical but realistic come-hither look on her face. The Kimono is a bit much, but I don't find this violent at all.
it IS sexualized, but the reason the woman is represented as Japanese is because I think it's supposed to be Kinbaku, a type of bondage done with light ropes. Of course, that still doesn't explain why the woman is in a kimono.
Yeah, I have to second the first commenter. There's issues here, but i see no violence.
Agreed. It makes me wonder if the original poster is looking too hard to see violence or extreme images. That woman looks fairly consenting.
Agreed, it's bondage, but not violent, per se.
As for the kimono, it might be a little stereotypical, but a lot of kinbaku is very traditional in imagery. The woman is typically dressed in a kimono, the setting is typically a traditional wooden house or garden scene. It's a very old "kink" in Japan, and draws from very traditional roots.
A little out of place for a *Swiss* shoemaker, but within the context of kinbaku, it's not racialized or stereotypical.
Wow! I'm the first person to comment here who has a different IP address! I'm special :p
She WANTS to be tied to the shoe. Can't you see, she's INTO it? And look at the size of her. She isn't even as big as a shoe. You are SO looking too far into it, I mean...no way presumably white men would EVER actually envision a non-white woman as literally much smaller, it's all fantasy...yep, yeah...
"they" say she's Japanese...well, I didn't know...being that I'm not so knowledgeable about the clothing, I didn't know she was from Japan. I supposed she was from somewhere in Asia, where, ironically, many American clothes are made, and I thought it was too ironic that an ad would actually show an Asian person (factory worker?) bound to a shoe (the product that they have no choice but to make, even though the wages don't even hardly meet their basic needs?). But if she's Japanese, I guess that's impossible, right? Because workers in first world countries never get treated poorly, right?
BTW, Eddy, I think "fairly consenting" deserves a place right up there with "preemptive counterattack."
racialized? check. sexualized? check. violence? umm...not so much. For many, bondage IS the point in and of itself. It can be a beautiful art form - hello, FetishDiva Midori anyone?
i think i get what you mean, and the marketing of a specific kink to a broader audience is certainly problematic to me. But it's not as simple as your post makes it seem, I think.
Well, who is the target market here? I mean, who wears shoes that big? Giants and/or Cyclops I'd imagine, and are they not routinely in the habit of kidnapping and tying up women? I think what we have here is a simple case of cultural misunderstanding.
"rachel 12:05 pm on September 24, 2009 | # |
[...] ironically, many American clothes are made, and I thought it was too ironic that an ad would actually show an Asian person (factory worker?) bound to a shoe (the product that they have no choice but to make, even though the wages don’t even hardly meet their basic needs?).[...]
Before you hate on America you should do a little bit of reading.
-First America is not the only nation to benefit from the underpaid laborers of Southeast Asia.
-Second if you have a problem with trade practises you should take it up with everybody's favorite democrat Pres. Bill Clinton and the leaders of the Asiatic nations selling their children into near slavery.
-Third "they" tell us life is better there now than it was 30 years ago, and since I'm not 30... nor have I ever been to Thialand, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, Indonesia.. or any Asian country I'll just have to believe "them"
-Lastly the Tags say that it is a Swiss ad. Nothing to do with AMERICA at all.
So while your cynical anti-American response is so filled with deep literary analysis I think you should do a wee bit more research before you stab at the American people. Did you happen to think that she was possibly an Asian American woman? In my hometown the Japanese women wear their kimonos often, to celebrate holiday, for funerals/weddings/birthdays, to their religious services, and some of the older women wear them all the time. So maybe it is symbolic of the American addiction to fine leather dress shoes. Maybe she's swiss. Because she's of Asian descent that doesn't mean that she works in a sweat shop.
Think before you post. The internet is a beautiful resource, but anyone can post whatever whenever. Sad Fact. Maybe we should tear North Korea a new one for taking that right away from her citizens?
More kinbaku-referencing by another upscale European company:
To me it just looks like a really stupid ad (albeit also a typical ploy being used to sell a product...namely sex). I mean, showing a woman tied up in order to sell a pair of shoes? Really dumb.
Japanese rope bondage is an ancient custom of theirs - they call it 'nawa shibari.'
Did I step into an alternate universe, or are a lot of different people posting here, or am I just plain missing something? Because after reading my textbook all morning about gender inequity and the prevalence of rape, gang rape, dominance and hatred against women in the majority of societies, this makes me want to hurl on my tennis shoes. This is not fun or sexy. This is men wanting to see women sexually available, incapable of resistance, and she is literally *tied* to property. You might as well argue, "Oh, but she WANTS to be raped," which a lot of rapists actually believe. If this were not an example of gender inequity and sexualized hatred against women, we'd see ads with men tied to shoes. But we don't. Do we?
I agree that there are problems, however... this is an ad for *shoe laces*.
I think it's both a beautiful image and also a really clever way for grab attention for an item that is generally mundane.
Again, not disagreeing that it is another example of the objectification women, but from an advertising perspective, I think it's well done. I would also hesitate to jump to rape contexts because there are so many women who do enjoy bondage. I would love see a similar ad marketed to women with reversed roles....
Bondage isn't some crazy BDSM-only kink, it's the kind of fairly common sexual practice both giggled about by individuals and advertised by mainstream media as something fun to do on your weekend away. Now you'll attack women's magazines, I'm sure, but sex sells because it's sexy, and even to me, a fairly sensitive woman, this is a funny ad, not a frightening one. To address the role-reversal question, cf. lots of women's shoes ads (stilettos in the backs of willing young NAKED men.)
This wouldn't bother me so much if a man was actually using the shoelaces to tie up a life-size woman. As it is, with the tiny woman tied to the man's shoe, it doesn't conjure up images of actual, consensual sexual activity but more of a power trip, big-man-has-power-over-tiny-sexy-passive woman kind of thing. But I'm basically talking to a wall.
Attention everyone who just wants to chime in to say how this is totes not sexist or racist and you darn sociologists are just reading too much into things: I think you may be in the wrong place. Consider that your interpretations of what "seems" violent or not are conditioned by the culture in which you grew up and live in, so that the uncritical response to this type of image errs on the "not sexist" side of things. If you don't have training or education in the field of gender studies or feminism, consider that maybe people who are seeing violence and other problematic issues here are not just "looking too hard", but that they are looking through a different lens, one that provides an alternate view to that of mainstream, patriarchal culture. If you find yourself wanting to say that an interpretation of this ad as violent is too extreme or grasping at straws, I would challenge you to stop and ask yourself if maybe you aren't looking hard enough, or from the right perspective.
There is no violence in this ad.
It is very frustrating that violence is assumed to be part and parcel to BDSM.
As sociologists, I feel we need to be open to lifestyles other than our own. Citing violence in this ad where there is none is tantamount to bigotry.
Furthermore, I would like to point out that the BDSM community at large puts more emphasis on CONSENT than the rest of western (rape) culture. The assumption of violence in BDSM pigeon holes a community that has found a way to embrace the currently culturally intrinsic dominance in sexuality in a safe and egalitarian way; this pigeonholing then prevents discussion and debate of dominance and power play in sexuality in general.
Look at subtext. There's no violence?
Hmm... why is she Asian and tied to a men's shoe?
I'm looking at the CHOICE the advertisers made here. Asian women are seen as demure and weak. Tie one up. A "weak" woman tied up. Not too big a jump to see how men's violence towards women could enter into the equation.
Was it their intent?
Does it matter?
When you make a clear choice to show an image of an Asian woman tied up to a men's shoe... you'd better be DAMN sure you understand the possible implications.
[...] night while I was browsing the Sociological Images website, I saw [...]
This thread contains some rather ridiculous comments. I'm an Asian-American woman and crap like this stupid ad has dogged me my entirely life. These images encourage people (mostly white men but also other groups too) to believe they OWN my sexuality.
"Oh no criticizing this ad in the slightest might hurt the poor oppressed BDSM people". Stupid statements like that are the reason I stopped identifying as a sex-positive feminist. I don't think BDSM is bad, I don't think it is good either, but I do NOT believe that validating the desires of people in BDSM is something that is inherently more important than calling out images that damage the self-esteem of Asian-American women and try to make us believe we don't our own bodies.
trannypunk, are you white? I usually don't ask questions like that, but your entire line of argument is so insulting here, and so ignorant of concerns that women of color have with sexual stereotyping, that I am honestly curious.
And what do you mean by "western" culture? Does "Western" culture include Asian-Americans? Is "western culture" supposed to create a contrast with some idealized, fetishized "eastern culture"?
Yeah, there's too much of this bullshit going on: "I once met an Asian woman who liked being tied up in certain situations therefore all depictions of Asian women being tied up are A-okay and if you don't agree then clearly you are oppressing me" with just a hint of "hey, Japanese people used to tie each other up all the time so it's okay for everyone to tie Japanese women up now!"
It's somewhat like the "facials" discussion on Pandagon that happened recently. Just because you can find an example of someone who's into whatever kind of kink doesn't mean that everyone should love being subjected to that stuff. And it certainly doesn't mean that we should assume they're into it without any indication that they are, any more than I would assume that it was just a couple roleplaying if I saw a man dragging a struggling woman into a hotel room. And the large-white-men-with-tiny-Asian-women thing seems too obvious for explanation, really.
It's just plain ridiculous to excuse an ad marketed to the public using well-known racial and sexual stereotypes/fetishes by pretending that it's all just unproblematic BDSM & race-play (as if those were unproblematic in the first place, no less!)
atlasien: thanks for the helpful comments.
To those who don't see violence or sexism here because the woman looks consenting: that's like looking at those figurines and advertising images of black "Mammies" and saying, "Well, she's smiling and looking happy, so there's no racism here!" You have to look at the context. Part of the racism *is* the smiling: as though a black woman is just tickled to death to be serving white people, all in a context where she has very few other options.
Here you've got an image of an Asian woman *tied down to a shoe*, with a come-hither expression on her face. In this context, the come-hither expression makes the image that much worse. This woman is just so turned on at the thought of lying at your feet and giving you sexual pleasure, and you should be turned on by her wanting to do that for you. All in a context where women are raped every day, and where for decades Asian women have been portrayed as exotic sex objects.
BDSM folks have to realize that their desires and activities take place within a sexist and racist society as well, and they can't escape that. It's not like when you close the bedroom door, everything that happens is now pure and free of social influence. Even if it were, as soon as you bring those pure desires out to the real world, they will be interpreted through the sexist and racist lenses of society. If anything, BDSM folks should be especially outraged by this advertisement because it exploits their desires and turns them into common, sexist soft-porn.
KD is awesome.
I've read all the comments here and can respect the sensibilities of all concerned.
My take is this:
The underlying message is the dominant and insensitive power you will possess as a man if you own these shoes.
The use of BDSM and fetish is poorly represented and amateurishly utilised here.
This ad is equally offensive to women, shoes, BDSM and advertising as it is a cheap exploitation scenario.
My worst feeling at a gut level is this - never mind the fancy concept of objectification. My concern is more precise: abuse.
This ad essentially portrays someone in love with her abuser and owner.
That is not healthy BDSM, or anything else.
I don't understand how someone can look at this ad and not see sexual and racial objectification of an Asian woman. Her supposed "look of consent" has no real bearing on the meaning here, since the ad is targeted toward privileged men who think women "like" to be sexually objectified. I really don't see how you can relate this to BDSM since she is a small woman tied powerlessly to a shoe. It has nothing to do with the BDSM community, it's targeted toward sexist mainstream society. When you look at this ad while keeping in mind historical attitudes about women's sexual submission and stereotypical attitudes about "submissive" Asian women, it is clearly much more sinister than many commenters are acknowledging.
Ads like these don't exist in a cultural vacuum.
Context is everything here, people.
Within the context of the "kink" scene or whatever you wish to call it, this ad might be acceptable.
But put this out there for the wider community to see and it stirs up a whole lotta mess. In that context, the ad unwittingly encourages rape. You'd be amazed how many stupid men there are whose view of consent is: "Well, she might ACT like she doesn't want it, but I know she really wants it."
This ad is fodder for that kind of guy.
Role-play & kinky stuff is fine when all partners know the deal and are sensitive about where the line is between consent and non-consent. But not everyone understands this.
And the Japanese thing? Intentionally or not, it plays into all kinds of stereotypes of Asian women as submissive sexual servants.
Conclusion: this shit is messed up. If you can't see the implied violence here, open your eyes.
[...] Via Sociological Images. [...]
1. Sexual degradation
3. BDSM (for the societal context where we think BDSM is weird, this is very weird) And for those who say this isn't BDSM, open your eyes. Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism. Bondage means ropes. Way to have the ropes emphasize her bust.
4. Racism: Asian woman in ropes, so she must be submissive.
It doesn't matter if she looks like "O hay you sexy thang~", considering all ads with women in them pretty much have that same message (look at Evony, Abercrombie & Fitch, Jacob, etc). Women in our society have always been regarded as subordinate, and should be submissive. Hence, "bring me a sandwich, woman."
[...] More conflations of sex and power here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. [...]
[...] are an easy way to broadcast the idea that your product is exotic and mysterious. And Asian women like being tied up. And they make people hungry. Groups of Asians make good background props or dancers [...]
[...] yet to be addressed. Taking women and turning them into objects for the sake of selling a car, or a pair of shoes (as shown in the hyperlinks) is ridiculous. These ads are directed towards men and their sex [...]
[...] (source: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/09/24/power-sex-and-shoelaces/) [...]
Your email address will not be published.
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Sociological Images encourages people to exercise and develop their sociological imaginations with discussions of compelling visuals that span the breadth of sociological inquiry. Read more…
CC Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike