The sexual exploitation of women is especially predominant in advertising, which is impossible to escape because ads are omnipresent. Thin, barely clothed bodies appear in magazines and on the backs of buses. Intimate close-up shots of smoky bedroom eyes belonging to a woman wearing only lace negligee stare down at passerby from high billboards. Pelvic shots and chiseled bodies come through the television and the computer. They are in every clothing store and adorn the pages of weekly sales circulars.
The mechanism used in these ads is quite simple: Attractive bodies are employed to grab attention and simulate desire, which advertisers hope will then be transferred to the product. Buy the beer, get the girl. In this way, women’s bodies are equated with commodities, presented as rewards of consumption. By instructing men to regard women’s bodies as objects, ads help create an atmosphere that devalues women as people, encourages sexual harassment, and worse (Jacobson and Mazur 1995:84).
Often times the women portrayed in these ads are not even whole. The pictures show only legs, torsos, or an open mouth with rouge lip color provocatively placed atop a glass bottle. This reduces women to collections of parts, something less than human. This objectification and sexploitation has changed the rules of society and along with it the attitudes of men and women have changed.
Just as simple films relying on crude jokes and violence are perfect for the global marketplace, since they require little translation, so is advertising that relies entirely on image. Bare breasts and phallic symbols are understood everywhere. As are the nude female buttocks featured in the Italian and German ads for similar worthless products to remedy the imaginary problem of cellulite. Unfortunately, such powerful imagery of[ten] pollutes the cultural environment (Kilbourne 1999:72).