I spent a day last week off work due to stomach flu , so I was catching up on talking cats, Jezebel.com gossip and other wonders I don’t usually have time for during a work day. While I was busy investigating the glory of the Internet, my Mom sent me a link to the website of a chicken slaughterhouse. My Mom’s a law professor and doesn’t usually spend her days trawling the Web in search of places to kill the farm animals she doesn’t have. But one really does not have to have the least bit of an interest in poultry to find this site, or rather its banner, “amusing.”
You can keep rubbing your eyes and it won’t go away. This chicken slaughterhouse in North-western Poland thought it’s a good idea to advertise its chicken killing services by having a “hot blonde” in a bikini pose surrounded by chickens (which will presumably have their heads chopped off at any minute). I don’t know about you, but by golly, I wouldn’t want my chickens killed anywhere else now that I’ve seen this.
This obviously isn’t the first loosely food-related disturbing ad I’ve seen, but one other especially stuck in my mind. My husband and I were on a trip to Southern Ukraine (he was working and I was being the awesome supportive partner), when walking in Yalta we bumped into this:
Aha, this woman is pretending to perform oral sex on a dead fish and the caption says – “fresh fish in the menu.” Apparently fresh enough for an attractive women to want to become sexual with them. NOT! We obviously had to stop and take a picture, because seriously – I didn’t think that there’s any good reason to ever mention “fish” and “fellatio” in the same sentence. It makes for an interesting linguistic experience really.
That women are objectified to sell stuff is not exactly news to anyone, I don’t think. Jean Kilbourne made the famous “Killing us softly” movie about just that, there are websites focusing solely on exposing the objectification and sexualization of women in printed advertising, and try google imaging “objectification of women in advertising” (I did it for you here). It’s pretty mind blowing – who would have thought women’s breasts can even be used to sell hamburgers? Or that placing a bottle of perfume on a woman’s vulva will make anyone want to buy the stuff? Or that sticking a gun to a woman’s head is a good attempt at raising skateboard sales? Or maybe making milk look like ejaculate on a woman’s face will increase our calcium ingestion? There’s a lot of feminist discourse around this topic, but half of the time I just think this is plain disgusting. I don’t need to consciously think of the perils of the objectification of women to look at these images and think that their creators have some serious issues they should probably work through on a psychoanalyst’s couch (and get some homework reading on gender while they’re at it). To put it in plain English: these ads are disturbing, disgusting images and why would anyone want to use them to do anything else but scare people off?
Of course the short of it is this: sex sells. And what says sex more than a woman’s crotch or parted red lips? And some ad designers lack the sophistication to come up with more subtle allusions. Or maybe they just think that the sexier the commercial the more they will sell? Either way I don’t think we should put up with it. If you have a few spare minutes today maybe you’d like to email the chicken slaughterhouse (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell them what you think of their ad. They’re based in Poland, but I’m sure they know some English and will be mightily impressed to get messages from abroad…
A recovering scientist, healthcare analyst and junkie of all things gender and women's health