General Pants has a long history of using sexist and sexually objectifying advertising to sell its merchandise. Their latest ad campaign, in store windows across the country, shows that nothing much has changed.
This is not the first time General Pants has sexually objectified women, or used topless women to promote their products. The youth retailer first came to our attention after featuring pole dancers in their shop window display in Melbourne's Bourke Street store.
In 2011, General Pants management instructed underage staff to wear “I love sex” badges that made them feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.
General Pants then displayed large images of topless women being stripped from behind by an unseen man. Some of these images were framed as large keyholes to suggest the women were being spied on.
A short time later, a supporter alerted us to the store’s change room wallpaper, featuring an array of images advertising pornography and prostitution.
In 2014, General Pants window displays featured sexualised images of young, bikini clad women in the bath alongside the slogan ‘Wet Dreams’.
In 2016, their advertising featured topless and semi-naked women alongside fully clothed men.
The research is clear- exposure to these sort of everyday sexualised images of women has a range of negative impacts, including greater body dissatisfaction and self-objectification in women, greater support of sexist beliefs and a greater tolerance of violence against women, as well as leading both men and women to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality and humanity.
The ongoing sexualising and objectifying treatment of women by companies like General Pants contributes to real-world harms for women and girls- why is this advertising still permitted?
Ad industry self-regulation in Australia is a failure. In the lead up to the election, we are calling on supporters to contact their local candidates and ask them to support a new regulatory regime to ensure public spaces are free from sexualised and sexually objectifying images that harm women and children.
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According to the New York Times, NFL cheerleaders were required to pose nude and act as escorts for male sponsors.
Photo: Patrick Smith, Getty Images
In a calendar shoot in 2013, cheerleaders had been required to pose topless or only in body paint while a group of male sponsors and FedExField suite holders watched.
At the completion of the calendar photoshoot, nine of the women were told they had been “chosen” by men to be their escorts to a nightclub and to get ready. Some of the women reportedly began to cry.
While they were not instructed to have sex with the sponsors, some women said they felt they were being “pimped out”.
“They weren’t putting a gun to our heads, but it was mandatory for us to go. We weren’t asked, we were told. Other girls were devastated because we knew exactly what she was doing.”
“It’s just not right to send cheerleaders out with strange men when some of the girls clearly don’t want to go.
“But unfortunately, I feel like it won’t change until something terrible happens, like a girl is assaulted in some way, or raped. I think teams will start paying attention to this only when it’s too late.”
This disturbing culture of sexism and discrimination with the NFL includes a “hot or not” game on the Washington NFL team’s website, where players can rate and evaluate the women’s physical appearance. Cheerleaders barely earn minimum wage, and are not permitted to socialise with team players:
Cheerleaders are told not to dine in the same restaurant as players, or speak to them in any detail. If a Saints cheerleader enters a restaurant and a player is already there, she must leave. If a cheerleader is in a restaurant and a player arrives afterward, she must leave. There are nearly 2,000 players in the N.F.L., and many of them use pseudonyms on social media. Cheerleaders must find a way to block each one, while players have no limits on who can follow them.
A screengrab of the Redskins website, with the “hot or not” game.
See also: Washington Redskins Cheerleaders Describe Topless Photo Shoot and Uneasy Night Out- New York Times
It was in 2013 that women’s surf brand Roxy was slammed for their sexist “all sex no surf” Pro Biarritz trailer. The video, a promotion for the upcoming women’s surf competition, featured a faceless and half-naked woman writhing around on a bed, stripping off and entering the shower and catching zero waves.
Three time women’s world longboard champion Cori Schumacher started a petition that attracted over 22,000 signatures, calling on the brand to stop sexualising women in their marketing and advertising:
Recently, Roxy released a trailer for the 2013 Roxy Biarritz Pro contest that showcases a style of marketing women’s surfing that is not conducive to a healthy, empowered vision of women. Instead of women surfers being presented as an alternative to the sexualisation and objectification of women in the culture-at-large, this campaign succumbs to the lazy marketing that is already so prevalent.
As the most visible and well-known women’s surf brand, Roxy has a unique opportunity to truly make a difference in how women and girls are represented in the world.
We ask that you stop the sexualisation of women in your marketing and advertising and instead, help to present women surfers in a light that women can be proud to be associated with and young girls can truly admire.
Five years later, Roxy have launched a new global campaign, entitled ‘Make Wave, Move Mountains’ to “promote a message of strength and support to young women of any age, sport, or dream.”
Roxy is not the only brand making major changes. In 2016 Unilever, the company that owns Lynx, a brand of men’s deodorant with a long history of sexist advertising, released the following statement from Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed:
“The time is right for us as an industry to challenge and change how we portray gender in our advertising. Our industry spends billions of dollars annually shaping perceptions and we have a responsibility to use this power in a positive manner.”
Photo: A compilation of sexist Lynx ads over the years.
Just last year, burger joint Carl’s Jr, with a reputation for sexually exploiting women in their porn-inspired commercials, claimed they were changing their ways, ditching the sexualisation of women and instead focusing on ingredients and taste.
This change of direction in advertising from a range of brands is evidence of a greater cultural shift that is underway, one in which sexism and the exploitation of women to sell products and services is no longer tolerated. Corporates are starting to recognise that sexual exploitation does not necessarily sell.
These changes are in large part because of those of us who have consistently challenged the sexualisation and objectification of women and girls in media, advertising and popular culture. As always, thank you for your ongoing support and let’s continue keeping up the pressure!
Experts advise parents to have their eyes wide open in this digital age, as sexual predators are targeting children through Social media apps.
The rise of social media has made the threat of online child grooming easier, resulting in high prevalence of sexual exploitation. Experts have advised that parents need to stay up-to-date with mobile apps to be prepared for potential threats. It has become more apparent that sexual predators and paedophiles have been using social media to groom children and teens, preying on kid’s attachment to their favourite mobile and computer apps.
‘Grooming’ is when a person manipulates a child for sexual purposes, by building an emotional connection to gain their trust. The process may start with sending pornographic images to the child, ‘normalising’ sexual activities, to eventually moving on to requesting naked images or perform a sex act on a webcam.Read more
Read Part one here
These hyper-sexualised advertising posters more appropriate in the storefront of an R rated sex shop are in plain view of children within a family shopping centre. They are designed to be sexually stimulating, but my kids and I did not go to the shops to get sexually stimulated!Read more
Last week, B&T reported on the latest campaign by Honey Birdette titled “Office Party” that appeared to play on the Christmas tradition of a drunken office work bash. This time, however, with models gadding about in only their expensive lingerie.
The campaign came with a racy stills campaign and social media TVC. You can see it if you go to the link in the full article at bandt.com.au
However, since the launch of the campaign the company has been defending itself against claims it is offensive and wrong to portray women in their undergarments at an office party.
“My kids were seeing pornographic images in what is supposed to be a family shopping centre”
On the evening of the 24th June, my family and I were returning from a fun day out and decided to drop into Westfield Fountain Gate. The kids were tired, hungry and a bit grumpy so we hurriedly tried to find a restaurant, we wandered down a dimly lit arcade. I walked right past the only brightly lit shop front window of Honey Birdette and realised that the provocative images of scantily clad women was not something that I wanted my young kids to see. So, I hurried past hoping that they would follow and not notice.
I remember my heart sinking as my 4-year-old daughter suddenly shrieked behind me. “Look! Why is she not wearing any clothes?”
Eroticising rape and sexual violence is no answer to reduce sexual exploitation of women.
The sex robot company, True Companion, have created and released for sale a robot that will allow men to simulate rape whenever they please. The company claims the doll allows men to ‘realise their most private sexual dreams’, however normalising rape fantasies is a step backwards in reducing sexual exploitation of women and girls.
Roxxxy, the ninth version of the company's sex robot, can have a personality customised or chosen from one of the companies five readymade personalities. The personality function under huge fire is ‘Frigid Farrah’ that allows the simulation of rape. The company describes this personality as being ‘reserved and shy’ and who ‘if touched in a private area, [will] more than likely […] not be appreciative of your advance.’
Professor Noel Sharkey, founder of the Foundation of Responsible Robotics, is one of those who has actively warned of the ethics around such a robot stating ‘I would say there should be an import ban on those’. Professor Sharkey also explained ‘Some say it's better to rape a robot than a person, but others think it would encourage rape’.
True Companion responded to the claims of rape by stating “rape simply isn’t an action that Roxxxy supports” and when using her in Frigid Farrah mode she “provides her opinions and feedback”.
Pic credit: Getty ImagesRead more