Gender and Sexual Exploitation in Advertisement

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Jacob Erdy
Prof. Molyneaux
ENG 110
10/18/12

Gender and Sexual Exploitation in Advertisement

In Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt, Jean Kilbourne sheds a feminist light on the blatant exploitation of sexuality and violence against women and men in modern advertisement. Kilbourne then goes on to explain the damage these advertisements have on today’s culture and rising generations.

Kilbourne argues, in the past twenty years or so there has been a steady increase of advertisements featuring pornographic elements along with other inappropriate themes such as “bondage, sadomasochism, and the sexual exploitation of children.” (576). Such images as a jean ad where a women is being attacked by three men in an alley is a perfect example of an event that should be seen as tragic but is written off as just a way to convince people to buy a product. An interesting point that Kilbourne brings up is since these images have become more and more apparent throughout everyday life, such as in magazines, newspapers, and television commercials, “most of us become numb to these images, just as we become numb to the daily litany in the news of women being raped, battered, and killed.” (584). Unfortunately, this statement is undeniably true, after being conditioned to believe that these exploitative ads are acceptable most of us would not even take a second glance if one was found in a magazine or newspaper. This is when these advertisements become dangerous, argues Kilbourne. She doesn't believe that these advertisements cause crimes against women, but when these crime arise these ads somewhat justify certain actions because of their omnipresence in society. I agree with Kilbourne, these advertisements do portray a world where crimes against women are acceptable, which in result, make people believe there is some sort of justification of these crimes when they are brought up. These exploitative ads need to be curbed in hopes to “thaw out” society’s opinions and tolerance...
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