In reply: ads have stronger effects for women than men

In reply: ads have stronger effects for women than men

by Kate Hayden

In response to last week’s opinion piece, “Double Standards in Advertising Objectification”:


I’m a student in the same class, Women and Politics, and with the basic thesis, I agree. No one should be objectified for his or her body, no matter what gender. However, consider that male-body advertising is only proving to be lucrative because female-body advertising paved the way. Women’s bodies sell everything from perfume, to condoms, to alcohol, to car tires, which begs the question:


“Do media ideals really affect women?”


I felt pretty affected in London, England, when I took a late bus back to my flat, sitting at a window seat. We sat briefly at a bus stop waiting for others to load or leave the bus, but that was long enough for a few drunk guys on a ‘lad’s night out’ to throw their beverages at my window and yell obscene phrases. 


I felt pretty affected in Okoboji, Iowa, when I took a late afternoon walk around the neighborhood surrounding the summer camp I worked at, and had a white pickup truck full of gentlemen slow down and follow me on the street until I took a shortcut through some stranger’s backyard. 


I felt pretty affected at a concert when a strange man started sliding his hands down my back. 


I don’t consider myself to look or act terribly different from any other woman on campus. I don’t think I experience an outrageous amount of harassment compared to any other women my age. I think I’m more aware when I experience it then some women are, or that I’m less likely to make excuses for them when I encounter that behavior. 


I’m not dissatisfied with my appearance. I’m dissatisfied with how some people believe they have the right to treat me, or my sister, or my best friend. Overall, I’m happy with how men (and women) treat my friends and I on this campus; I think we have a really considerate student body. 


But while I don’t want to say, “this never happens to guys on campus”, I have to stop and think about whether I’ve heard the same complaints from my male friends. I don’t know or any stories of my guy friends being harassed by a drunk woman in devil’s horns in downtown Des Moines, like a close friend of mine delt with. No one slows down on campus roads to yell out their in the dead of winter, criticizing my male friends’ clothing choices. I haven’t heard of groups of women throwing glass bottles at a male bus-rider behind a window. 


I don’t want to say I disagree with last week’s editorial, but I’d like to point out that women have put up with mistreatment (and the ensuing, distasteful advertising) for a bit longer. I’d like to ask that instead of just ignoring the advertisements, or even harassing companies providing the media, we move to identify and stop mistreatment of any person in everyday life. 


You can’t lobby to build human decency. But when one campus works in unison to erase the idealization of each other’s bodies (such as the ladies working on Project P.R.E.T.T.Y), imagine what can happen when we all graduate and spread out in the world, continuing to share what we learned at Simpson about each other. 


Watching that change come about, I would feel pretty affected. 

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