Has the Fashion Industry Trained Me to be a Bad Feminist?
Dec 10, 2008 - by Amanda Gabriele
The recent Jezebel article asks the question, "Why won't sexist advertising go away?" Some very strong points are made, and I agree that women are 10 times more likely to be the subjects of sexually charged advertisements. But the view I kept questioning myself on as I looked at these photos was this- why do four of these five advertisements not phase me one bit?
As my 4.5 years of fashion/journalism school come to a close this week, I can't help but wonder if the industry I've been trained in has made me numb to provocative advertising. Working in the world of fashion, many times it's difficult to look past the art value in something to the political argument. In the L.A.M.B. fragrance ad, for example, I don't see a cum shot, I see perfume. Gwen Stefani has been breaking media boundaries for years now, showing up at red carpet events with pink hair and a bare midriff. Especially for a young, edgy brand like L.A.M.B, an ad like this comes across to me as playful and fun, not demoralizing.
I can see why many women would take offense to the Dolce & Gabbana ad. Yes, the female model in the photo is being held down by a male. Is it bad I find this sexy? For decades, Dolce & Gabbana has produced sexually charged campaigns to reflect its brand and design philosophy. Maybe it's a cultural barrier between America and Italy as the latter's culture is more open sexually. Nudity is common in magazine spreads and advertisements, so no one blinks an eye. To be completely honest, when I saw this ad, my thoughts went directly to how the garments and accessories were portrayed rather than what the models were doing.
The Remy Martin ad is interesting to me because it's two women acting in a playfully sexual manner towards each other. I have to laugh because does anyone look at this photo and assume these women are lesbians? Probably not. If it were two men, however, most people would be quick to assume they were gay. It's a very strange, long-running stereotype that straight women can act sexually towards each other, but straight men can't.
The Nikon ad shocked me. I can't believe they are actually running this. First off, the models need a sandwich, or six, stat. Secondly, I am so sick of seeing young women, in real life or the media world, posing half naked for some douche just because he has a camera. I missed the memo awhile back telling me I could become famous by modeling for an amateur photographer who has a trendy Web site.
And the BMW ad makes no sense to me visually. I wouldn't even look twice if I saw it in a magazine. Fail.
Am I a bad feminist for looking at the art of fashion many times instead of the social taboo? I don't know if there's a right answer. But my attraction to provocative fashion advertising tells me it has something to do with the industry I work in. And I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.