This advertisement, even on a first glance, raises red flag on sexist oppression. It is immediately apparent that the portrayal of a naked woman for the sole use to hold a shoe made for men is quite appalling. This advertisement is a blatant use of women as objects for making a product (supposedly) more appealing to a male audience. Specifically, it is unnecessarily sexualized in hopes that it appeals to male perversion and sexual fantasies. Furthermore, the imagery of the shoe directly over the female model implies a level of dominance over the woman and her exposed body. In general, for a simple advertisement for shoes, the use of a nude female model is completely unnecessary. Next, the apparently gentle way the model holds the shoe plays into sexist stereotypes. It shows submissiveness and the antiquated view of women as gentle/fragile and reinforces sex and gender roles. In this sense, the woman can also be presenting the shoe such that the man can fill it and fulfill male roles as breadwinner while the female tends to his whims. Finally, the position of the opening of the shoe is a visual metaphor which portrays the female genitalia in a demeaning way of suggesting women’s roles being solely related to sex and childbearing.
For years, mainstream media has pushed for the use of “sexy models” for the use of selling, often, completely unrelated products. This systemic sexist ideology of “sex sells” ultimately promotes the objectification of women for their bodies while completely discarding the individual. This mentality stems from the systemic oppression of women throughout history, resulting in patriarchal ideals relegating women for childbearing and complacency to men in domestic settings.
My Jammed version of this ad aims to emphasize a few of the messages underpinning the advertisement. The true colours of the advertisement if you will.
Firstly, a minor change to the motto “made by hand” to “made for men” was to emphasize the blatant attempt to appeal by the “sex sells” strategy. Secondly, the addition of a wearer to the shoe reveals the disguised oppression and subordination of women by their male counterparts, into a more overt message. With just the addition of the leg alone, it becomes much clearer what is going on here. While the opening of the shoe no longer directly serves as imagery to portray the female genitalia, the shoe and foot stepping over this region signifies the sexual and sexist oppression that is subjected onto women by society (like the creator of the advertisement and those who approved it for example). The foot also from this perspective can also be seen as pushing the woman down and keeping her down. This signifies the attempts made by mainstream society to keep women out of equal opportunities, pay, and freedoms that men often take for granted. Finally, the handcuffs further emphasize oppression as well as add to the idea that there are many hurdles a woman must face to obtain similar achievements in society. If the jammed version of the advertisement is not something that should be used, the original advertisement is just as guilty in pushing the messages that I simply highlighted in theirs. The makers of advertisements must be more cognitive of the choices they make when portraying messages to their audience. The message in this advertisement only further perpetuates sexist oppression and gives a reason to the viewer to be desensitized and complacent to what is clearly a sexist, misogynistic advertisement.
Westluke. “An Ad for Shoes or Women?” NewsActivist, 17 Sept. 2016, newsactivist.com/en/articles/gendered-world-views-fall-2016-section-17/ad-shoes-or-women.