Violence against women comes in numerous forms and many feminists in modern America (including me) are of the belief that the media and advertising are detrimental to gender equality because sexism is used to sell everything. Now, I know there are a lot of groups in the US fighting against sexist and racist advertising in the media (like Ms. Magazine, About Face and SisterSong to name a couple) but today’s post is going to focus on the four installments of Jean Kilbourne’s documentaries Killing Us Softly and will feature some of the most offensive ads I’ve been able to find on the internet. Your submissions are welcome.
The original documentary was produced in 1979 when Jean Kilbourne got disgusted by the images she and all other Americans were constantly being fed. Obviously these two first ads are more vintage. The second installment, Still Killing Us Softly, was produced in 1987, Killing Us Softly 3 in 2000 and the newest film, Killing Us Softly 4 just last year, in 2010. Sadly, what this trend shows is that not much has changed in advertising in the past 30 years. Overt sexism declaring that women are stupid and belong in the home has given way to sex being used to sell everything from bodywash to beer.
Each and every one of these films should be required viewing for anyone in women’s studies programs (where they often are), sociology programs (where they probably aren’t), and advertising classes (where they definitely aren’t). And they are each only about 30 minutes long, so don’t waste 2 hours of your life watching a crappy Hollywood produced blockbuster, instead, grab your favorite snack and your favorite person to bitch to, and sit down for some eye-opening, and frustrating, entertainment. Jean Kilbourne handles each presentation with humor and warmth which helps diffuse the tension of the impact these destructive ads have on women’s views of themselves and men’s views of women.
The history of these films chronicles the intrenched way advertisers and the “beauty” industry deliberately encourage women’s insecurities so that they can offer up products to improve whatever perceived flaw women have. Kilbourne examines myriad issues concerning the images of women in advertising, including sexualization of girl children, violence against women, dehumanizing of women of color, promotion of eating disorders and plastic surgery, encouraging women to be submissive and childlike, and the literal objectification of women’s bodies. Newer advertisements promote an unhealthy beauty ideal for all women and erroneously teach that women can only be attractive if they are young, thin, white, able-bodied, big breasted and submissively sexy.
Here are a few other ads I find disgusting.
Promoting violence against women:
Sexualization of children:
Infantilizing adult women:
Promoting homophobia and transphobia:
And objectifying women and girls:
March 31st, 2013 at 21:16
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[…] for the 2011 documentary Miss Representation opens this session and a short analysis of how representations of women in the media affect everyone’s ideas of what women can and should be follows. MSNBC Analyst Karen Finney […]
July 3rd, 2012 at 06:01
[…] Day 24 Killing Us Softly. (March 24, 2011).[Blog Post]. Retreived from https://feministactivism.com/2011/03/24/day-24-killing-us-softly/. […]
February 6th, 2012 at 05:55
[…] here is that you’d do the same thing with this woman. The same principle applies in the third ad, where the woman is a cake. In the Heinz ad the dinner resembles a nude woman; she has been […]
February 5th, 2012 at 12:39
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November 26th, 2011 at 01:28
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October 20th, 2011 at 00:24
[…] male celebrities suffering from anorexia anywhere. Because of the incredibly unhealthy body images fed to us by the media cosmetics is a multi-BILLION dollar industry and rates of plastic surgery to “beautify” […]
December 21st, 2011 at 08:05
It also causes women to have mental distortions of men.
April 17th, 2011 at 04:18
the hardest thing in life is to love yourself the way you are. rebel and be yourself, be free to be who you really want to be
March 27th, 2011 at 15:49
[…] Day 24- Killing Us Softly (feministactivism.wordpress.com) […]
March 26th, 2011 at 22:23
This is one of the reasons thy I refuse to read glamor and fashion magazines. I just wanted to add a link to the trailer of Killing Us Softly. For those who have not seen it, it is an eye-opening video into the world of advertising. You will never look at an ad the same again.