gender: objectification

Here’s an Axe ad, sent in by Krystal-Lynn M., the idea being that if you use Axe, women will perform oral sex on you in the bathtub:


NEW: p.j. sent us this ad for Lynx, another name that Axe is marketed under in some countries:

NEW! (Mar. ’10): Katrin sent in this video about the LynxJet marketing campaign, which plays on the idea of the sexy airline stewardess who is sexually available and eager to please her male partner:


Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

In this ad for Bud Lite, we see a reversal of the usual gender pattern–in this case, a woman has x-ray vision and uses it to imagine what men look like under their clothes. When a chubby man appears and she sees his body under his clothes, she’s disgusted and looks away:


An interesting example of men’s bodies under scrutiny.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Our reader, Elizabeth A., drew our attention to this ad and she does a great job of describing what, exactly, is so disturbing about it:

The sexism at work here is nothing new. It’s just your tired, old, run-of-the-mill objectification of women as inanimate objects [robots] whose sole purpose is to sacrifice their own desires so that they may cater to the tastes [for draught keg contents] of the implied male viewer. In fact, the image in the commercial of a woman emptying herself for a man while keeping a constant smile is actually a disturbing reification of many women’s experience. Socialized to abnegate themselves, women may try and try to please other people, draining themselves of energy, until they are as empty as used beer cans. While the images used here are distractingly sexy, the underlying message is a terrifying turn-off, yet another example of how Heineken’s execs underestimate their target audience [hey, hetero men, you don’t want female companionship, just a fembot-like servitor!], insult women and leave everyone feeling demoralized and worse for wear.

More from Elizabeth at her blog: Blog of Stench.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

I have a feeling this ad is not meant for lesbians (the other half of the page showed a half-naked woman; both were for mainstream, non-lesbian-oriented clubs). This might be useful for discussing different attitudes toward gays and lesbians–it is difficult to imagine an ad of two men kissing aimed at straight women. In this case, women kissing is not about THEIR sexual pleasure, but about that of the audience–presumably straight men. The assumption accompanying images such as these, of course, is that the women are not actually lesbians–they’ll still be sexually available to men. This is another difference in cultural views of gays and lesbians–lesbians’ sexual orientation is often doubted (they just need to find the right man) in a way gay men’s usually isn’t.

From Las Vegas Weekly.

These two images were part of the campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer at my college this year. I think it is fascinating that, even when spreading a message about women’s health, the images include sexualization and objectification (on the right) and a woman posed to look insecure, vulnerable, and maybe slightly scared (on the left).

An ad for a bar at the Monte Carlo casino in Las Vegas. I found it in Las Vegas Living.

I just found this ad for a bowling alley in Las Vegas Weekly.


NEW! Here’s another ad that uses the idea of “scoring” to refer to sex:


Notice it’s melon-flavored gum.

Copyranter has pointed me to a recent spate of ads for homes, apartments, and condos that use the idea of accessible women, or otherwise use sexuality, to sell their product.

Lindsey Dale, at Nobody, sent along this additional example:

Also in using women’s sexual availability to sell real estate.