The simple answer is yes. Without a doubt, sex in advertisements has been used since their creation. No matter how unrelated the sexuality is to the actual product, sex is used to grab the attention of consumers. Not merely sexuality between two people, but particularly women’s nudity has been used to draw attention to print advertisements. Although this tactic has existed for some time now, it seems that in the last two decades the explicitness of these ads has gone out of control. What started with pin-up doll figures advertising cigarettes has turned into completely naked women selling perfume. There are almost no restrictions to what companies can put in magazines and billboards, for all of the world to see.
Most critical reception has gone to stop ads containing young girls. Nearing child pornography, certain Calvin Klein ads have had to be restricted because of the young age of their models. Other than that, however, these larger companies have the “freedom” to do whatever they please and are unstoppable.
I went to a focus group on shaving advertisements. They were asking our opinion on the perspective commercials they wanted to produce. The girls in the ads were shown shovelling the snow, in mini skirts. Another one was of the girl at home sitting seductively on her bed (displaying her nicely shaved legs) waiting for her boyfriend to get home from work. Can a girl even shave without thinking about the possibility of a man? I can’t help but wonder how far is too far when it comes to nudity in mass media.
These ads have negative effects on the perspective of women and sexuality. Even without being prude, it is evident most of these advertisements are fairly inappropriate. If it makes most adults blush, imagine the effect it can have on a 12 year old girl or boy, a child. Children should not be presented with sexual images as explicit as these when taking a walk through the city or flipping through Flare magazine. It is just another way in which innocent children are being tainted with adult encounters.
Additionally, women being portrayed as merely sex figures (an image which should be long gone) continues to be reinforced by these ads. Whether you are a feminist or not, it is common sense that it may not be a good idea to have breasts in a shoe ad. What these ads do is make consumers immune to the sexuality around them. Usually people don’t even realize the nudity that appears in everyday advertisements.
Although it works in favor of many products, particularly ones directed towards adults, it is easy to see how ridiculous these advertisements can get. I’m all for expressing sexuality, but I don’t enjoy the feeling of our youth being further exposed to things they do not even understand.