Violence

Background: “In spite of the inferior role which men assign to them, women are the privileged objects of their aggression,” this the telling quote offered by Simone de Beauvoir (in Kaufman 1995:17) that establishes one of the essential problems in patriarchal societies—men commit violence against women. The connection between masculinity and violence has been considered in a number of significant studies of popular culture (Gibson 1994; Ewing 1995; Kaufman 1995). Kaufman suggests that the substitution of violence for desire is a predominant aspect of the construction of masculinity (1995:13), Benokraitis and Feagin suggest that advertising often connects sexuality with aggression or violence against women (1995:61), while Wolf (1991:133) discusses “beauty sadomasochism”—the prevalence of violence and sex in many ads. This exhibit focuses on the prevalence of violence in gender advertising. The Ads: It would be difficult to pick the worst ad from the following...all of them are quite disturbing. In some cases the violence is generalized and may include men as victims (#s 11, 59, 81), but in most, women are the target of bane, torture, and killing. I have been unable to verify the shadow victim in image 10 (it may be a man given the name of the cologne). Image 26 appears to be a skateboarder who is about to cut the knobs off of a railing and is thus probably not explicitly violent. Image 76 reflects an overall violence against nature.  Discussion Questions: (1) Some people claim that advertising is inherently shocking because a product is being sold and that the best way to sell products in saturated markets is to shock. Thus, you may hear the idea that this advertising is merely a reflection of the desire to shock consumers. How do you respond to this statement? (2) Are you surprised that explicit forms of violence like the ones depicted in these ads exist? Why or why not? (3) Why is it more common for women to be targeted by advertising violence? (4) What strategies can be used to convince all men and women that violence and advertising have negative effects on all? (5) Some of the ads (such as #s 44 and 46) use humor as a means of advertising. How do you respond to humor that, often in a tongue and cheek manner, reflects violence against women?