Every year since Ms. Magazine hit newsstands as part of the roaring Women’s Liberation Movement in 1972, the magazine has always included a “No Comment” section on its last page. This page featured advertisements, submitted by readers, that were insulting or degrading to women, but always in the vein of political or social action. Ms. Magazine: “Some make us roll our eyes. Others inspire us to write letters or to boycott products.”
And you know what? Ads over the past forty years haven’t gotten all that better. For example, here’s a classy product for suitcase stickers from July 2010:
Here’s what Stephanie Hallett from the Ms. Magazine blog had to say about this:
Identifying your ubiquitous black suitcase on a baggage carousel can be challenging, it’s true. But is it really challenging enough to warrant this violent suitcase sticker from thecheeky.com? We think not. Canadian entrepreneur Colin Hart, who runs thecheeky.com, said the stickers are meant to personalize and spice up your travel bags. His collection of large stickers features old leather luggage torn open to reveal illicit contents. What’s “inside” the bags? Stacks of cash, bags of cocaine, sex toys–and a bound-and-gagged flight attendant.
Jean Kielborne in her film series “Killing Us Softly” (now in it’s fourth edition) provides an in-depth examination of the sexual objectification and degradation of women in advertisements. Watch a snippet from her latest, “Killing Us Softly 4” below:
So what do we do with this? Get involved! One privilege of living in a capitalistic consumer-driven country is the power to put our money where our mouth is. You can submit your images to Ms. Magazine via firstname.lastname@example.org, join this Flickr “No Comment” group or start one in another online community. Check out some of the “No Comment” archives for inspiration here.
I’ll begin with Urban Outfitters. Can their models get any younger or any skinnier? Or paler?