Objectifying women’s bodies in advertising not only harms women, it also harms men’s ability to relate and connect with women in healthily.
Blender is a concept store in Istanbul similar to Colette in Paris or Dover Street Market in London that also has a butcher shop in it.
Advertising Agency: Rafineri, Istanbul, Turkey
Creative Directors: Ayse Bali, Murat Cetinturk
Art Director: Can Guven
Copywriter: Gorkem Yegin
Photographer: Koray Birand
Published: April 2010
The Impact Of Objectifying Women’s Bodies
A young woman gazes seductively at the camera while her very thin naked body is sliced into pieces of meat. Meat hooks hanging from the ceiling pierce each piece of her in an empty room. Rafineri advertising agency titled the ad, Butcher Shop and made it for the Blender Concept Store of Istanbul, Turkey. The store is a unique hybrid of a clothing store and a butcher shop. This ad epitomizes the problem with the objectification of women in advertising, which not only hurts women; it also hurts men in ways not typically discussed. The ad invites the viewer to “come and choose a piece to satisfy your appetite”. The ad portrays the woman as if she is merchandise to be bought, consumed, and discarded. Instead of a whole and complex human being.
It is unclear what this ad is communicating about the store. It is hard to figure out what they selling or what audience they are trying to appeal to. Maybe that is the point. Unfortunately, though, ads such as this one, are known to hurt women tremendously. They lie to them as if all they have to offer are the physical parts of their bodies. It is demeaning to women on so many levels.
The Harm To Men
Ads like this one are damaging to the emotional and physical well-being of women. Rarely talked about in public, is another sinister consequence of objectifying women. It is that objectifying women’s bodies is also damaging to men. Advertising agencies make these many of these ads to appeal to heterosexual men’s innate desire for the female body. The media bombards boys with images of objectified women since birth. As they grow and mature the media constantly tells and shows them how they should perceive women through these images.
Men, like all people, generally desire healthy relationships. Unfortunately, images of objectified women have harmed their ability to relate to women on an equal and humane. On some levels, boys and men do not even know how to see women properly. The media habitually tells people to focus on women’s bodies. To focus on their breasts, buttocks, and legs. The Blender ad completely reinforces those distorted perceptions. The ad detaches the woman’s body parts and presents them as individual pieces. The woman in the ad is not a whole person, but a collection of sexualized body parts. As a consequence, when many heterosexual males pursue women, they largely do it for sexual conquest. They consequently ignore the concepts of friendship, companionship, and intimacy.
Disruption To How Men And Women Relate
At the core, men do want intimacy as well. Many of them are not sure how to go about it because they are not taught how. The Media and Western culture teach boys how to “get laid” instead of how to respect women. The vast majority of relationships based on sexual conquest end in hurt, disappointment, and loneliness. These sexual conquests also hurt the women on the receiving end of them. They often leave them feeling used or abandoned.
As a result, men become frustrated and disappointed with their inability to relate to women in healthy ways. There have been studies that show how looking at these sexualized advertisements causes harm. Studies such as Dr. Tom Reichert’s study, A Test of Media Literacy Effects and Sexual Objectification in Advertising. In that study, he states, “devaluations of one’s— and one’s partner’s—attractiveness, attitudes supportive of aggressiveness toward women, trigger gender stereotyping and gender role expectations, and distorted body image.” This horrific ad by Blender further accentuates this destructive and painful cycle.
Objectifying Women’s Bodies Encourages Sexual Violence
In the ad, the young woman is chopped up and hangs from meat hooks. Her head looks towards the viewer. The young woman’s finger rests seductively on her lips. Her gaze is an attempt to entice the viewer to go and use her. One of the creepiest aspects of this ad is that in reality, a woman in such a situation would be dead.
It is as if whether she is dead or alive it does not matter. She is yours to use as you see fit. The most striking feature of this image is how her body is literally sliced up into seven pieces. And in between the pieces, you can see her “raw meat”. In conjunction with that imagery, each piece of her body is pierced by meat large hooks and suspended by chains. This extremely violent image also appeals to many men’s tendency towards violence against women.
The tag line of the ad is also very disturbing as well, “The concept store with a butcher shop”. The words “butcher shop” below the image imply that brutal violence has been committed against her body. Yet after such violence, she still looks very sexy. They make violence look sexy and seductive in this ad with absolutely no consequence to the woman. The model looks like she enjoys being cut into pieces and hung from hooks for men’s pleasure. The fact that each slice of her body is clean, with no blood, and they look meaty and alive; the image completely trivializes violence. The ad reduces her to nothing more than an object to satisfy hunger, especially sexual and violent hunger. It tragically eroticizes sexual violence against women.
Such ads reinforce the lie that women are pieces of meat for them to use and abuse. This advertisement completely loses the fact that women are equal human beings and are more than a body. This psychological damage this could do on an impressionable young man is immense. Objectifying women’s bodies sets him up for complete failure and hurt in his relationships with women. As the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people”. Unfortunately, too many innocent women are often at the receiving end of the damage that has been done to young men’s perception of women.
Studies have shown that the sexual victimization of women portrayed in porn, non-porn films, and music videos increases supportive attitudes toward sexual violence. Despite this fact, the effects of sexual violence in advertising have not been extensively studied. There still is evidence that exposure to advertisements that are sexually and violently objectifying women’s bodies produces anti-woman attitudes. Dr. Juslie Stankiewicz and Dr. Francine Rosselli’s study, Women as Sex Objects and Victims in Print Advertisements, make it clear that ads such as Blender’s create environments that allow negative attitudes towards women to flourish. Attitudes such as women are objects and that men are always sexually aggressive.
We should not place the blame for such ads solely on men or women. But instead at all those involved in its production. Women and men are both guilty of objectification of their fellow human beings. To successfully sell products, adverts such as Butcher Shop are not necessary and should be avoided at all costs. There are countless other clever ways to display and sell products that will not hurt men and women in the same way sexual objectification and violent advertisements do.