Culture Jam

  1.  Original Ad

2. Analysis

This American Apparel ad is one of the many ads I have seen that objectifies women. This ad is implying that women are things that can be either open or closed to the public, like a store. The comparison to a store dehumanizes this woman and shows her as something that will not object to any use or abuse that occurs because it is only there for another person’s pleasure. Dehumanizing ads such as this one justify abuse of women by showing them as passive and they reinforce the idea that women are here for the pleasure of men, thus should have no objections when a man wants to have sex. This ad in particular intensifies this viewpoint by explicitly adding a sexual aspect. Since the woman in the image has her legs spread apart, it implies that her body itself is “open” for anyone to enter if they so desire. This takes away all of her agency and shows her as a passive recipient of sex. This creates a narrative where woman have sex done to them and they are not active participants in the act. Thus, women are not only being dehumanized in ads like this, they are also having their sexual agency taken from them. This way of thinking is consistent with the rape culture present today, where women are to blame for abuse and rape because they were “asking for it”. In rape culture, if something is labelled open that translates to an automatic “Yes I want sex” and absolves the abuser of responsibility. Ads like this may claim to be empowering and motivation for women to embrace their sexuality, but I do not see this. If that was the case, then women would be depicted as enjoying their bodies and sexuality for their own pleasure, which would not require them to be “open”.

3. Jammed Photo

4. Jammed Explanation

In my jammed version of the ad, I replaced the word Open with Human because I wanted to emphasize the dehumanization of the word open in the original ad. One of my goals in choosing this ad was to simply draw attention as to how commonplace objectification has become in today’s culture. The fact that ads such as this one are still being produced should be shocking but unfortunately, they are simply an accepted part of our rape culture that places little value on women. The jammed version highlights that the woman in this picture is not an item that can be open or closed, but a human being with her own desires and opinions. It seems silly that simple and evident truths such as “women are humans too” still need to be highlighted, but ads such as this one demonstrate that somehow women are still being viewed as objects. In my jammed version. the word human (as opposed to the word open) clearly emphasizes that this woman can wear anything she wants and be as revealing as she wants, but she is still a human and not some kind of sex toy that has no objections to sexual encounters. The sexual element of this ad makes the jammed version even more powerful. Women who wear “provocative” clothing, such as a tight bodysuit like the one the model is wearing in the ad, are often dehumanized even further. The narrative becomes one of blame, where women are shamed for wearing certain types of clothes. My ad counters this notion by providing the stark and unfortunately required reminder that no matter what a woman looks like, she is a human and deserves respect.