Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Lingerie ads should not have to look like porn

Corporations that try and sell their products by using sex/women's bodies piss me off. Seriously. I fail to see how a naked woman, or a woman wearing lingerie, in a sexual posture is relevant to a watch, perfume or pair of jeans. In such cases, it's just plain exploitation.

Because of that "relevance" criterion, I feel more comfortable about lingerie ads featuring - most appropriately - women wearing lingerie, except of course, when the photograph connotes sexual submission, or otherwise seems degrading to its subject.

I noticed an ad on a bus today, for Calvin Klein's "Perfect Fit" line of women's underwear. The ad was composed of three pictures of a skinny woman, with a sad face, and coaly, tired eyes, who was twisting herself on some sort of furry carpet, in a white, blank, dimly-lit room. It reminded me of those awful American Apparel ads, and of the Marc Jacobs series featuring a scared-looking - and 12 year-old - Dakota Fanning.

The ad didn't say much about the products, but it urged its audience to visit a website called "Natalia's room".

Yuck. It really sounded like a "designer" version of your garden variety of mail-order Western Europe brides webcam porn.

When I got home, I checked out the website for Calvin Klein Underwear. I wanted to know more about this publicity campaign and "Natalia". Naturally, I looked into the women's section, but to my surprise, "Natalia's room" was nowhere to be found.

But then I checked in the men's section. And there it was.

Isn't it funny? You'd think men wouldn't be interested in the advantages of a well-fitted bra.

Or could it be that they are in fact interested in looking at dozens of grim, sleazy pictures of a "struggling" Russian girl, in pornographic poses, in downloading larger versions of those pictures, and even watching Natalia's video?

But then again. What do I know? After all, I'm *just* a frustrated radical feminist who sees porn and sexual exploitation of women everywhere.

I should not be disgusted by the rampant racist stereotypes of that publicity campaign (the Russian girl, her "struggling" background, the sleazy decor in the pictures, the cheap-looking satin sheets, the blend, prison-like background). Nor should I feel uncomfortable with the fact that while the product is marketed to women exclusively, it's men who are marketed Natalia's image and "sexuality".

I'm sick of this. I'm off to watch America's Next Top Model.


On a related topic, check out Charlie's Blog of Feminist Activism Against Porn, about her crusade in the UK against so-called "Lad's Mags".

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