A new, very NSFW ad campaign is turning one of the most played-out ad tropes on its head in a brilliant way.
The campaign, by women’s suit-maker Suistudio, is called “Not Dressing Men.” The ads consist of sharply dressed, suit-clad ladies striking powerful poses while naked boys lounge in the background, reduced to the role wives have so often played in advertise: objects.
According to Suistudio USA vice president Kristina Barricelli, the company is simply filling an empty space left by advertising’s very one-sided history of objectification.
“There is nothing incorrect with sexuality, the naked human body, and the inclusion of that in a campaign. Sexuality is a big part of way, ” she writes over e-mail. “The problem is that in recent history, we haven’t watched a naked humankind objectified in the background. How strange! Why not? “
Barricelli is careful not to call the campaign an attempt at gender-flipping, but instead, it’s a call to viewers to reconsider the rigid gender roles strengthened through advertise over the years. That the campaign has to do with suits — clothing that is more typically coded as masculine — buoys Barricelli’s vision.
Filmmaker and activist Jean Kilbourne addressed the role ads play in objectifying wives during her 2015 TEDx Talk.
“Women’s bodies are dismembered in ads, in ad after ad, for all kinds of products, and sometimes the body is not only dismembered, it’s insulted, ” said Kilbourne, outlining some of the many perils of objectification.
“When wives are objectified, there is always the risk of being sexual violence, there is always intimidation, there is always the possibility of danger. And females live in a world defined by that menace, whereas humankinds, simply, do not, ” Kilbourne explained. “The body language of women and girls remains passive, vulnerable, submissive, and very different from the body language of men and boys. Probably the best style to illustrate that is to set a human in a traditionally feminine pose: It becomes obviously trivializing and absurd.”
But simply flipping the responsibilities of the which gender is being objectified won’t solve advertising’s sexism difficulty alone.
In 2016, ad organization Badger and Winters launched the #WomenNotObjects campaign to highlight some of the most absurd and ongoing examples of sexism in advertise. In the campaign’s powerful launch video, modelings hold up two copies of objectifying ads and offer sarcastic commentary.
In a 2016 interview about the campaign, Badger and Winters co-founder Madonna Badger explained how she came to realize that this decadeslong practice was neither good for the well-being of women nor the brands themselves.
“Agencies create advertising that promotes not only the product, but likewise the ones who make it, ” Badger told CNN. “Ads should never ‘use people’ or take advantage of women and men in any way, shape or form. It should never show people as objects that have NO power NO possibility and certainly are NOT equals.”
So while the Suistudio campaign does a great job of shining a light on the one-sidedness of ad objectification, the ads aren’t a answer in themselves — and to be fair, they don’t claimed responsibility for. Maybe in the course of selling suits via an eye-catching campaign, nonetheless, these ads will have the pleasant side effect of encouraging people to get involved with groups like Women Not Objects, the Women’s Media Center, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and The Representation Project in their fights for gender justice.